There are still genuine sportscars, with a beautiful sounding, high revving engine, a close ratio manual gearbox, terrific looks, superb handling, pure cockpit ambiance, a car which awakens the true driver in you. Well, such a car is the Subaru BRZ. We tested it for you, and how did we enjoy it!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The magic of a thoroughbred boxer engine...
Subaru knows like no other something about boxer engines, and it is therefore with good reason that Toyota clasped hands with Subaru to develop jointly the heart of any (sports)car: a superb boxer engine. It pulls and revs like a thoroughbred, up to its 7400 rpm redline, developing a dramatic stream of power, and delivering equally superb (in gear) accelerations.
The BRZ screams from 0 to 100 in merely 7,3 seconds. It develops 149 kW or 200 HP at 7000 rpm, with 205 Nm of torque over a rev range between 6400 and 6600 rpm. Indeed, the torque figures show it clearly: this engine needs to revved, and kept 'on song' to reveal all its power. So keep jour right hand on the gearlever, if you want to enjoy some sporting driving pleasure. That is where this engine is made for, and that's how this BRZ should be driven. Ok, if you are in a somewhat more sedate mood, just stick into gear and floor it. Thanks to the low weight of the BRZ, its on gear accelerations are still pretty good.
As it is born and bred in Asia, it feels just as well at home in metropolitan neighbourhoods and megacities, and is delightfully untemperamental in slow and dense city traffic. Driving away in bottom gear smoothly with low revs demands some concentration, as either the engine wants to rev up immediately, or has a tendency to stall.
But after a short while, one has found the right balance between clutch pedal movement and amount of throttle needed for those quiet but punchy startoffs. If you feel like cruising on motorways, the BRZ is a true gran turismo indeed. Stable and quiet up to very high speeds, its sporty gearing gives you plenty of extra punch, without the engine sounding fussy or busy even in the higher rev regions. Of course there is the excellent cruise control to keep you relaxed on these lengthy trips.
Consumption depends of course largely on your driving style, and can vary between 10,9 litres in city traffic and 7,9 litres/100 km. On a leisurely cruising trip to Paris we consumed 8,6 litres/100 km.
Cabin ambiance is omnipresent in the BRZ. Its electrical equipment is refreshingly simple, almost vintage. We were also delighted to find a genuine CD player in the classic styled cabin. We also used with pleasure our faithful 7 year old TomTom, which brought us unerringly where we wanted to go, no fuss, with the simplest of inputs. No electronic gimmicks to distract you...
One word of praise is also fitting for the excellent seats, which truly wrap around your shoulders, have ample adjustment range and will suit the smallest as well as the tallest drivers.
Well balanced chassis.
But that is not all. This wonderful engine sits ideally in a truly superb sports coupe, with a state of the art chassis and suspension. The BRZ has been masterfully co-developed with Toyota, who wanted a pur sang successor of the iconic Toyota 2000, and what a masterpiece of balance and sportiness the engineers have delivered.
As said, the engine sits low and spot on the centre of gravity, making the car well set up for predictable, neutral handling. Just know that the weight distribution is near ideal, with 53 % on the front, and 47 % on the rear wheels.
The BRZ just begs to be driven with spirit and abandon, and wants its limits to be tested. Letting the clutch go in bottom gear will let the engine howl, and off you go. The engine revs up eagerly, you flick through the close ratio gears, and enjoy the boxer sound staccato in the cabin. Soon the first bend is looming, and you experience the grip of the brakes, as well as the stability and surefootedness of the chassis.
A flick of the steering wheel, and you steer through the bend with precision, every inch of the track in control. Of course, winding mountain passes or circuit tarmac are home turf for this BRZ, but Parisian roundabouts and boulevards let you also discover the delightful nimbleness of this sports coupe.
The handling is not only agile and precise, this thoroughbred car remains also totally neutral up to very high cornering speeds, and is totally predictable and well balanced in all circumstances.
Remember what we said about the position in the chassis of this low building boxer. Soon one is totally confident behind the wheel of this BRZ, and your driving style improves with every mile.
A true driver's car, with excellent road manners, a thoroughbred engine full of character, mounted in a state of the art chassis which echoes the vast experience of both Toyota and Subaru in making well handling sporting cars. The drivetrain is also a delight with a delightful close ratio 6 speed box, and cabin ambiance, finish and quality of used materials is beyond reproach.
Add to all this the well designed instrumentation, the no nonsense electronics which refreshingly limit themselves to the essentials, and you have a thoroughbred companion which will give you exquisite driving pleasure, every time you push the starting knob...
Hans Knol ten Bensel