Subaru BRZ – The Enthusiasts’ Car of Choice?
Often compared to the GT86 it shares a few genes with, what exactly sets the BRZ apart?
I would argue that the Subaru BRZ is the enthusiasts’ car of choice compared with the Toyota GT86. That might sound contentious, but maybe I like playing devil’s advocate?
Hand on heart, I think the BRZ is a sports car in the traditional sense. It’s a rear-wheel-drive machine with 200 horses pulling under the lid. Sure, the car is naturally aspirated, and some would like to see a turbo fitted, but this all makes the petrol-powered BRZ even purer.
Okay, the same goes for the GT86, but Subaru is a niche car brand in Britain – Toyota is not. As part of the deal when Toyota and Subaru came up with the BRZ/GT86 plan, Subaru agreed to sell the BRZ in lower volumes. This further bolsters my certainty that it will be a collectors’ car in a couple of decades’ time.
I recently took a drive in Subaru’s 2017 BRZ Sports Coupe. It’s had a few changes that further strengthen the BRZ as the driver’s fun motor of choice. The car’s profile shows off the Subaru’s low centre of gravity, while beefy wheel arches give the 2+2 a strong posture. The wheels are now a 10-spoke aluminium design and the rear of the BRZ shows off reshaped taillights. There’s also a new pedestal spoiler to enhance aerodynamics. Inside, the BRZ’s steering wheel feels nicer in the hand than ever, wrapped with soft cross-stitched hide. That may not seem like a change worth mentioning, but after hooning around tight turns in the Cotswolds, my hands expressed some serious gratitude.
Available in just SE LUX trim in Britain, and costing only £26,050, the 2017 Subaru BRZ is now even more likely to be a car lusted after by enthusiasts. Most BRZs will get driven hard – they need to be to get the best out of them – but the few that are pampered will end up as museum pieces in 20 years’ time. Trust me, Subaru has long basked in its legendary motorsports status, and there will be more basking in glory to come.
Even the BRZ’s moniker – standing for ‘Boxer’, ‘Rear-wheel drive’, ‘Zenith’, validates the Japanese company’s devotion to driving enthusiasts. The aspiration behind the Subaru BRZ was to produce a stripped back sports car, offering the most clean-cut handling possible – and Subaru pulled it off. Yes, the identical GT86 does a similar job, but it’s all about emotion, folks. The word ‘Toyota’ just doesn’t get the juices flowing like the word ‘Subaru’ does. After all, it was Subaru that provided the Boxer engine – the fundamental element under each car’s bonnet. The 2.0-litre Subaru Boxer lump can be fixed low and shoved back in the chassis which creates that low centre of gravity and helps dish out the weight 53% front and 47% rear.
The Subaru BRZ is best driven with the six-speed manual ‘box. You must work it hard to get from 0-62mph in 7.6s, but that’s all part of the entertainment. With the BRZ and the GT86, it’s not so much about out-and-out power, it’s about the way you feel when you dart from bend to bend with utter poise and precision. Few driver’s cars come close, particularly at this price point.
So, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 are among the most pleasurable and inexpensive rear-wheel-drive motors to be launched in modern times. The mechanical parts are indistinguishable, but each make has adjusted the steering and suspension of their 2+2 for a distinctive feel. Their cost is one and the same, but picking which one to have is easy. It’s the BRZ every time.
It goes back to the fact that Subaru is a niche marque in the UK. And it looks the dog’s danglies in blue – all it needs are those fabled gold wheels and you’ll have a car you’ll always cherish. And when, one day, you’re told a care home awaits, you’ll be able to flog your BRZ to the drooling collectors who’ve been pestering you to sell for years.
At least if you part with it, the money will mean you can afford the care home. Now there’s something to look forward to!
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