Sporting a pleasurable drive
THE BRZ is a Subaru like no other before it, produced as part of a joint project with Toyota to breathe new life into an affordable rear-wheel drive coupe market that was once so vibrant.
This car doesn't need to be concussively quick, for the real joy in driving it comes through the tactility of its controls and the purity of its handling. An experience then, to be savoured.
Apparently, the BRZ's name tells you everything you need to know about this car. 'B' stands for 'Boxer engine', 'R' for 'Rear wheel drive' and 'Z' for 'Zenith' – the ultimate in affordable thrills. Is that what this is? From an early glance at the stats, you might wonder.
There's nothing especially startling here, the 2.0-litre flat-four engine producing 197bhp and 205Nm of torque, enough to get you to sixty from rest in 7.6s on the way to a top speed of 143mph. Plenty of comparably priced hot hatches can match or beat that. But none of them can deliver the driving experience on offer from this Subaru.
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It's a normally aspirated, front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe. Let's start with that. For a keen driver, the recipe doesn't get much purer. Plumb in a boxer engine that helps it to a centre of gravity lower than a Ferrari 458, add a proper mechanical limited slip differential and offer a six-speed manual gearbox with three beautifully spaced aluminium-plated pedals in the footwell and you have what most would agree is a very good start. Even from this point it would have been easy to get things wrong. But Subaru didn't. On the contrary, the BRZ is so right in so many ways it's almost as if the hand of Porsche has worked upon it. There's a simplicity to its controls, a delicacy and tactility to the steering and the pedals that offer the keen driver so much.
For me, there's something just that little bit more appealing about the looks of this BRZ in comparison to its Toyota GT86 stablemate – and I can't quite work out why, for apart from a slightly different front grille, the aesthetics of the two cars are exactly the same.
More important though, is the stuff you can't see. One of the fundamentals in the design of the BRZ was to keep weight down and, thanks to fastidious attention to engineering detail, this car manages to tip the scales at a mere 1220kg – that's less than something like a tiny Renaultsport Clio 200 hatch.
Let's be clear about this: the Subaru BRZ is a very special car. Better indeed than any true World Rally Blue Subaru optimist could hope to expect. It has a beautiful simplicity that speaks of paring back to the essence of driving purity, including just enough of what you need and nothing that you don't.
Like its Toyota GT86 design stablemate, this is a hero car for our times, one that rewards the properly talented driver without making the less proficient feel clumsy or unworthy. Of course, you've to pay for your pleasures.
Come to think of it. 'Everything Taken Care of' sums up the sporting remit of this car rather well. When it comes to affordable sporting pleasure that almost anyone can enjoy, everything really is.