Expert Reviews

UK Drive: Subaru BRZ

Wednesday 16 November 2016

UK Drive: Subaru BRZ

When you really boil it down, the Subaru BRZ is quite an old-school car. There aren’t many high-tech features adorning this rear-wheel-drive sports coupe, yet in this day and age that’s a rather refreshing approach.

The BRZ shares practically everything other than its Subaru badge with Toyota’s GT86. It features the exact same naturally-aspirated, 197bhp 2.0-litre boxer engine that sends power to the rear wheels through a slick six-speed manual gearbox. So while the car’s basic layout might be nothing new, it’s one that massively appeals to the driving enthusiasts this car targets.

Looks & Image

While the BRZ and the GT86 might be twins, they aren’t quite identical. The BRZ boasts a slightly more rounded front end, while its daytime running lights are in a different location to the ones found on the GT86. The strakes on the Subaru’s front wings are also marginally different.

Regardless of which car you opt for, you’ll certainly be in one of the more eye-catching vehicles on the road. The BRZ, like its GT86 sibling, sits low to the ground like a proper sports car, with a long bonnet extending outwards from the cabin.

The cabin is a fairly basic affair, with cheap plastic and scratchy paneling making up the majority of the surfaces in the BRZ. That said, though, chances are you’ll be so enthralled by the car’s driving experience that you won’t really notice the car’s Spartan interior.

Space & Practicality

As you would likely expect, practicality isn’t going to be amazing in a two-door sports car. The BRZ is by no means cavernous, but there is plenty of room for two people to get themselves comfortable. Thanks to a 243-litre capacity, the boot isn’t too short on space either.

While there are two back seats, you would be hard-pressed to fit an adult in them. Children will fit at a pinch, but will likely tire of being in the back very quickly. The BRZ, then, is more suited to use as a two-seater.

Behind the Wheel

How this car drives is its main selling point. The 2.0-litre engine delivers a 0-60mph time of 7.4 seconds, which might seem slow for a sports car, but this is more than made up for by BRZ’s fantastic dynamic abilities.

While the car may not boast the fastest 0-60mph time, thanks to the absence of a turbocharger, the manner in which it accelerates up the rev band is a pleasing experience. Power delivery is smooth and predictable, and above 4,000rpm the car starts feeling rather quick. It also makes a decent noise, too, which is fed into the cabin through a special tube, enhancing the BRZ’s drive even more.

Thanks to its rear-wheel-drive set-up, the BRZ is also incredibly balanced through the corners. A low seating-position brings you that much closer to the road, making the BRZ feel as though it is an extension of your body. It’s also quite eager to stick its tail out as well, which only adds to the fun.

However, by far the most impressive aspect of the BRZ is its steering. It feels hefty and meaningful, and translates all of the little bumps and indiscretions in the road surface through to your fingertips.

The six-speed manual gearbox, once it has warmed up, is also fabulous. While it has quite a long lever, the gate it shifts through is tiny, making for very quick gear changes. In the right conditions, the properly mechanical feel of this gearbox makes it a joy to operate.

Value for Money

Prices for the entry-level BRZ SE start at £22,495, while the better-equipped SE Lux costs from £23,995. You get climate control as standard, as well as cruise control and red contrast stitching on the upholstery. The £1,500 extra you’ll pay for the SE Lux throws in part-leather upholstery and heated seats, but that’s it really.

You can specify satellite navigation and Bluetooth by opting for the touchscreen infotainment system, but it isn’t really worth it. The BRZ is meant to be a simple yet brilliant driving machine, so we would leave it that way.

Who would buy one ?

If you want to get your hands on a car that provides bags of driving fun, the BRZ demands your attention. Its simple, yet engaging nature makes it an incredible exciting car to drive, and more than makes up for its basic and stripped-back interior.

It pays to remember that the Toyota GT86 is equally as capable, so this is also worth considering. Bear in mind that a deal with Toyota has ensured that the GT86 will sell in greater volumes than the BRZ in the UK, so if you want a car that’s slightly more exclusive, opt for the BRZ instead.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Subaru BRZ SE

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol (197bhp)

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, 140mph top speed

Economy: 36.2mpg (combined)

Emissions: 181g/km CO2

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