Subaru BRZ Review

Subaru BRZ Review

What does this Subaru have in common with the rally pedigree Subarus we’ve come to know and love? Well, it’s blue and the similarities pretty much stop there.

The Subaru BRZ is a total 180-degree direction change for the brand and the vehicle is unlike anything Fuji Heavy Industries has ever produced.  At first glance you may think it’s a Toyota 86 with a couple of add-ons. You’d be right, but think of the BRZ as a more refined, precise driving tool.

Comparisons to the 86 are inevitable and the little Toyota has received much love on a global scale. The BRZ however is like discovering your girlfriend has an exceptionally pretty sister and you weren’t told about her until you’d already made a commitment. I would go as far to suggest the Subaru brand has more prestige and snob value over Toyota…

Speaking of pretty, the BRZ is a great looking little thing. Coupled with go-faster bits like an STI front lip, a boot-mounted wing and a rear diffuser (complete with massive exhaust tips), the BRZ is eye-catching and I found myself becoming the target for cellphone-wielding onlookers. I guess the World Rally blue paint helped a little too.

Subaru BRZ engine

It has the same 2.0-litre flat-four motor as its Toyota cousin, but Subaru has fitted a sports exhaust, which gives it a little more power. The result is a delicious sounding toy car, which should hit 100km/h in under 8 second, thanks to 147kW and 200Nm driving to the rear wheels. ‘Rear wheels? What is the world coming to? ’ Yes, this is a Subaru that doesn’t have all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive plus an excellent chassis and a rev-happy motor makes for a fun driving experience. That’s what the world is coming to.

The 86 is marketed as a tail-happy sports car and while I personally haven’t experienced its sideways demeanour, there are more than enough YouTube videos to get some idea. The BRZ is a little different. Don’t get me wrong, you can get it properly sideways and get the Tokyo Drifter in you grinning like mad, but this thing feels very precise and darts around twisty and tight roads. You can always switch the stability control to sport, which affords the driver some rear-wheel slip but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered.  Read: scared.

Fun to drive, yet economical

Thanks to a great chassis and suspension setup, the BRZ is a delightfully entertaining drive. Some people would suggest it’s a little too hands-on and involving, but if you’re after a vehicle that’s relatively attainable and cheap to run, the BRZ will make you happy. Speaking of cheap to run, the BRZ is impressively light on fuel. During the few days of enthusiastic ownership, the BRZ went through fuel at a stately 9.1L/100km.

It follows a simple recipe. This would be a rev-happy motor, six-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive and a coupe shape. Mazda’s MX-5 has successfully cornered this market for many years now, and it’s about time a few other choices were added to the mix.

Subaru BRZ cabin

It may be simple in engineering terms, but thankfully the cabin is quite high-tech. You’re getting some decent kit in the BRZ and there’s none of that worry you’re being short changed when it comes to specification. There are some heavy-duty leather racing seats which are heated, dual-zone climate control, USB ports, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, trip computer and one-touch electric windows.

It may be small in dimensions, but the cabin isn’t as cramped as you’d think. Subaru may have fitted back seats with seatbelts, but in reality these are only really suitable for the littlest of people. Me? I’d use it as an extra cargo area. The boot isn’t that small either, but the only problem is the position of the spare wheel. It’s a great idea to fit a full-size spare to offer owners peace of mind, but unfortunately it’s in plain sight and a nuisance when you’re packing suitcases.

Subaru BRZ price in South Africa

You can get yourself a Subaru BRZ for only R389 900.

Subaru BRZ Review conclusion

Subaru’s BRZ is not too silly a price either. Your R389 900 gets you a fun to drive little sportscar that’s less compromised than you think. You have enough gadgets and features to keep you happy and when you’re driving enthusiastically, it’s not going to drink you out of money. The downside though is the hot hatchback.

For similar money you’re treading on five-door turbocharged family hatches, which simply decimate the BRZ in straight-line performance, while offering sensible practicality. It’s not a good place for a little sports car to be and as good as the BRZ is, it’s far more logical to purchase something like the Ford Focus ST or Renault Megane RS265 if you have a family. Single petrolheads however can rejoice, this car has your name on it.

Why you should: Fun to drive, surprisingly light on fuel, a proper sports car for the masses, Subaru badge offers more exclusivity than its Toyota counterpart

Why you shouldn’t: Snug cabin, can be a little too involving and hands on.

It would be better if: it had more power. That chassis is just so good.

Competitors worth checking out: BMW 1-Series, Volkswagen Scirocco, Maxda MX5Toyota 86

Subaru BRZ gallery