SUBARU TURNS HEADS AGAIN
BRZ OFFERS NEW FEATURES AND A PRICE REDUCTION
IT doesn't look that different from the excellent original, but the latest BRZ from the house of Subaru has had quite a few improvements – and a decent price cut – to make it well worth another look.
The neat sports coupe, the sole model in Subaru's line-up with rear wheel drive, is now priced at $32,990 for the sixspeed manual and $2K more for the auto, with respective trimmings of $1230 and $1735.
Power and torque are slightly up by 5kW and 7Nm for new numbers of 152kW and 212Nm, the suspension has been tightened, there's a big touchscreen for the six-speaker audio system, and better and more comprehensive instrumentation, including a clear digital speed read-out.
The latter is pretty important in our 'speed kills' mentality, because the BRZ is a thoroughly pleasant, almost purist, sports coupe and it's very easy to creep up beyond the ever-so-safe 60km/h or whatever other local limit, without noticing.
The car is more of a capable than red hot performer, but it has the character and ambience that invites any driver with more than a drop of Avgas in his or her veins to become one with it and really enjoy the well-sorted car.
The driver sits low, but can still see over the bonnet, and unlike sports cars of yesteryear, which were almost naked as far as comforts and equipment went, the BRZ, despite its enthusiast-orientation, has dualzone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, cruise control, LED fog, head and taillights, even power windows.
It has a boot as well, not very large, but capable of accommodating a wee case and some soft stuff on top of and on either side of the flat-mounted spare wheel, and there's also a back seat of sorts, which is more for onboard storage than grown humans.
The front seats are excellent, the controls nicely placed and the steering wheel and shortthrow gearshift – we had the manual – have a good, quality feel.
The cubby is of reasonable size and the car comes with the bottle and cupholders demanded of modern conveyances.
The four-cylinder boxer engine's brainbox has been tweaked for a bit of extra low down torque, which is nice in slo-mo suburbia.
But the BRZ is at its best on an open winding road, where its pep, grip and balance can be enjoyed.
The sound from the naturally-aspirated engine is also pleasant in its chaff-cutter
way. We never bothered with the audio system.
There's a touch of understeer in fast corners, which can easily be turned into controllable oversteer by lifting off or trailing the brakes midway through, if that's your thing, and the electric-assisted steering, now with a slightly smaller steering wheel, is impressive.
Its quite long wheelbase makes for super stability and there's a track mode you can select if you want to hang the tail out on a circuit or autokhana.
The nearly 1300kg car can run to 100km/h in 7.4seconds and return an average 8.4litres/100km.
Of course it has all the safety guff du jour, but the sweet-handling BRZ should let any half decent driver steer away from trouble in the first place.
Verdict: A real quality sports car at a budget price.
Subaru's BRZ has been given even more appeal.