BRZ makes argument for your dollars
Subaru’s BRZ Inazuma is the latest special-edition version of the brand’s two-door sports coupe which, in case you didn’t know, offers sportscar bang-forthe-buck on par with a $3-case of dynamite.
In Inazuma Edition guise (Inazuma is Japanese for lightning, if you’re wondering), core BRZ traits are enhanced with targeted upgrades to brakes, suspension and appearance.
Drivers get a familiar flat-four engine that loves spinning fast, a fantastic six-speed stick and nearly perfect weight distribution.
Then the Inazuma Edition adds a slick spoiler, black trim, special wheels and tires, Sachs premium dampers and powerful Brembo brakes.
Also, it’s very yellow — from the vivid yellow paint, to the yellow accent stitching, seat panels and even interior door grab handles.
Occupants sit low and deep in the cabin, without feeling too cramped. There’s decent athand storage, including cubbies and door pockets and proper cup holders.
Folks sitting up front won’t find this too hard a coupe to board or exit, though rear seats are a different story.
You can physically fit an adult into them, but they might be more comfortable walking home in the rain.
As a package, BRZ Inazuma makes a compelling argument for your dollars — just under 33,000 of them, in the case of this top-dog model.
For the money, one thing sticks out further than anything else in separating the BRZ from competitors. From the ground up, it was designed to be a genuine sports car, not a hopped-up version of a high-volume commuter model, like a Honda Civic Si or Mini Cooper S.
This shows up massively in the driving experience.
The uncompromised design means BRZ is small, lean and light with little concession for things like cargo space or a big rear seat.
It’s rear-wheel drive, too, where most sporty compacts aren’t, so you can talk drifting with your pals.
And, with the Inazuma Edition’s enhanced brakes and suspension improving stopping power, brake system durability, and handling stability, and finding a sports coupe better set up for weekend track days, right out of the box, will be a toughie.
Move fast if you want one though: at writing, only a few dozen copies of the limitededition BRZ Inazuma were left unsold.
Many words describe what you feel when driving this machine hard, including frisky, feisty and eager. It’s easier to explain what you DON’T feel though: drive the pants off of it, and you never feel like the car is struggling with its size or weight, or like you’re bothering it.
The steering is so quick, you only need millimetres of movement at the wheel, but also heavy enough that it doesn’t feel all anxious or twitchy on the highway.
Pitch it around some fast corners, and BRZ Inazuma seems to say “all right, cool, we can do that!”
There’s no body roll, no drama, no plowing. Spin the two-litre engine to its growling 7,400 RPM redline and it sounds like it loves it. If you have a pulse, you’ll be smiling ear-to-ear as 205 horsepower surge into action as the revs climb.
Brake hard and she shuts down from speed right now with minimal fade and confidence to spare. The steering, shifter and clutch all have no slack. The balance is tremendous — brakes are perfectly matched to the power. The steering is expertly tuned against the handling and character of the vehicle.
Nothing overwhelms anything else, and as aggressively as you’d care to drive, it just never feels out of its element. BRZ responds with that immediate urgency to your commands that you just don’t quite get with a souped-up Civic.
With the Sachs premium dampers, the added handling performance comes with minimal compromise to comfort.
Some vehicles that handle this well ride like a trash-can full of rocks. Here, you’ve got ride quality that’s comfortable enough for use any day.
Further, though horsepower output is modest, you do get to smash a few good redline gearshifts before you’re in demerit point territory. It’s also amusingly good on fuel.
Gripes? Wind and road noise levels at speed are generous, rear seats are basically useless, and if you’re not somewhat fit, you’ll probably wish it was easier to get into your seat. Worst of all, the central command touchscreen looks like it’s from the forties.
End of the day, though, here’s an authentically satisfying sports car driving experience that doesn’t cost too much, is easy on fuel and loves being driven hard.
If you feel like there just isn’t enough sports car in your life, this thing will fix all of your problems like a packet of Peter Popoff miracle spring water.
Justin Pritchard is an automotive consultant and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).