Fun that’s fe­ro­cious

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIVE THINGS - Craig Duff

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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