Fun that’s ferocious
1 It is the ugly duckling of the Toyota-Subaru sports alliance
Toyota flogged more than 2000 examples of the 86 coupe last year compared to the BRZ’s tally of 331 sales. There’s no logical reason for so great a difference, given the vehicle is a joint venture — Subaru essentially built the car using Toyota dollars and some technology. It was a good deal for both companies but it negates any subjective perception of the Toyota being a better-built car. So there’s no real reason why it kicks the Subaru this hard. The pricing for the BRZ starts at $32,990 and rises to $34,490, putting both variants in the middle of the Toyota twin’s entry and topspec pricing.
2 The update makes the BRZ better value than ever
The 2017 BRZ adds LED headlamps, a track mode that encourages a little bit of tail-out tyre tormenting, upgraded infotainment and an improved instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch digital display. The base model has a 6.2-inch touchscreen with improved response and better connectivity without being class-leading. The steering wheel has shrunk a fraction and has more buttons, all of which are easy to operate without looking down.
3 There’s more to it than meets the eye
Beyond the cosmetic and aesthetic upgrades the BRZ benefits from an overhauled suspension with new damping, springs and roll bars. It is softer around town and stiffer when it counts. The boosted handling earns the BRZ a track mode for the stability control, which lets the back end wriggle and slip before reining things in. Automatic versions continue with the 147kW/205Nm; the manual has intake and exhaust revisions to lift outputs to 152kW/212Nm. Hill-start assist is standard on both transmissions.
4 Buy the manual
The power boost, in combination with a shorter final drive, should make the manual BRZ marginally quicker. Regardless, it will be the most entertaining, letting owners push the boxer engine to its redline before flicking the shifter into the next gear. It is notchy but precise, so there’s little excuse to find fifth gear when you’re looking for third.
5 This means cheap thrills for sports car fans
The BRZ might have a pair of occasional rear seats but it is a designated sports car intended to go around corners at a faster pace than rear passengers will feel comfortable with. It does that with aplomb and the combination of reduced outright grip, reasonable power and responsive suspension make it a great car to teach the basics of car dynamics.
The BRZ deserves better than sales suggest. It is ferociously fun without being ferociously fast and that margin for error is what makes it such a forgiving drive.