Subaru have sensibly launched just one variant of its BRZ coupe locally, Robert Barry spent a week getting happily acquainted at the wheel of the GT.
It’s completely different to any model offered by Subaru, indeed its name, BRZ, is an acronym for Boxer engine, Rear-wheel-drive, Zenith. And yet this classically styled sports coupe, with a long nose and short tail, which was jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota is set to become a desirable icon.
Restricted supply has meant that Subaru New Zealand is only now able to let dealers order stock for their showrooms, last year’s allocation of 12 cars were instantly snapped up by eager customers in December, leaving others to wait patiently.
Both the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86 are manufactured at Subaru’s main plant in Gunma, Japan. The 2-litre horizontally-opposed boxer engine was co-developed between the two partners, with Toyota adding its D-4S injection system which uses both direct and port injection.
The naturally aspirated boxer engine has a power output of 147kW/7,000rpm and a torque rating of 205Nm/6,600rpm. It sits as far back into the engine bay and as low as it possibly can to endow the BRZ with a 53 percent front to 47 percent rear, weight distribution.
This weight distribution couple with the engines low centre of gravity and the remarkable chassis provides the BRZ with a similar fun-to-drive character as that other iconic sportster, the MX-5.
As with all boxer engines, the BRZ its power develops further up the rev range, and low end torque is non-existent, you need a good dose of throttle to launch the car off the mark from a standing start, lest you stall and embarrass yourself. I did this a number of times.
A different grill and headlight assembly differentiate the BRZ from the Toyota 86. The BRZ's grill is hexagonal in shape, compared to the Toyota's trapezoid. The BRZ features a wraparound of LED parking lights in the headlight assembly, while daytime running lights are integrated into the bumper as are the fog lamps.
The headlamps of the BRZ are self-leveling xenon units with washers that are activated when the driver uses the windscreen washers to clear the screen.
Unlike it’s Toyota cousin which is now offered locally in more than five different model grades from the 86 RC to the TRD GT86, Subaru only offer just one BRZ model, the GT, to its customers.
Those Subaru customers can opt for a six-speed automatic with manual mode, and paddle shifters on the steering column, however our test car arrived with the delightful short throw Aisin six-speed manual gearbox. A torque sensing limited slip differential is standard on the manual cars. (Check this fact with Subaru)
The BRZ GT has generous specification with leather and alcantara upholstery, heated front seats, a height adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone climate controlled air-conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, cruise control, multi information display and smart key push button stop/start.
It has a very simple Bluetooth hands free calling set up and a double DIN stereo with six speakers with a USB/auxiliary audio jack for MP3 players.
But more importantly the BRZ is set up for driving enjoyment, not necessarily out and out acceleration, (although zero to 100km/h is possible in 7.6 seconds), but its superb handling and road holding coupled with strong brakes allows you to merrily scythe through corners leaving larger, heavier and more powerful cars in your wake.
For really dynamic drivers a sport mode on the electronic stability control system allows a greater degree of tail out driving before intervention kicks in. The system can be turned off completely for circuit work, but even with the VSC switched on the BRZ will slide its tail around a tight corner, switching to the Sport mode just makes it a touch more exciting, but grip and power out of the corners is assisted by the limited slip differential.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the ride quality for such a nimble handling sports coupe fitted with low profile tyres on 17-inch alloy rims, it’s not uncomfortably firm and doesn’t rattle your fillings when the car traverses judder bars, speed bumps and the like, however it doesn’t like potholes .
Although billed as a 2+2, with both of the front seats at their furthest rearward setting, there is not a lot of leg room, if any, for rear passengers. One friend who is 182cm tall, gamely sat lengthways across the back seat for a short journey. Watching him trying to clamber out again was akin to a Mr Bean moment! But then you don’t buy a sports car to carry passengers.
Body type 2-door Coupe
Engine type Flat four, double DOHC
Engine capacity 1998cc
Max power 147kW/7,000rpm
Max torque 205Nm/6,400rpm
Fuel consumption 7.8L/100km
C02 emission 180g/km
0 to 100km/h 7.6sec
Air conditioning Dual zone climate
Satellite navigation No
Cargo cover N/a
Boot capacity 225 litres
Wheel type 17-inch Alloy
Spare tyre Full size
Estimated running costs
36 months, 60,000km
Servicing to 60k: $1,972
Total Tyre cost: $1,204
Residual (30%) $14,697
Indicative final figure $49,062
The running cost model is used for illustrative and indicative purposes only. Adrenalin Publishing Limited accepts no responsibility or liability should any costs indicated in the model change from those published. All residual values are based on a calculated 30 percent as a financial instrument and are not the expected or indicative resale values.