The Subaru BRZ.
The Subaru BRZ.

Subaru BRZ road test: Hot coupe races out the door

EXPECTATION can be partnered with extreme pressure.

Meeting anticipation can be difficult when hopes are lofty. Luckily the Subaru BRZ has broad and muscular shoulders.

Since its launch last year, plaudits have been falling at the BRZ's tyres.

Honours have been shared with Toyota's 86 - the two Japanese carmakers joined forces in the sports car's development.

It broke Subaru's all-wheel drive mould, creating a rear-wheel drive coupe, but in the process reinvigorated driving excitement.

And Australians answered the call. Proving if you built it, they will come…or click. The BRZ was made available for sale online and the initial batch of 201 sold out within three hours. An additional allocation has boosted numbers, but the BRZ wait is still about eight months.

Comfort

There is little doubt of its sporting characteristics. Sitting low, climbing in and out of the BRZ can take some effort.

Bucket sports seats up front are wonderfully supportive in all directions and keep you nicely planted.

The driver has manual seat height adjustment along with telescopic steering wheel movement.

A small leather-clad sports steering wheel and the red on black dials colour scheme resonates with the driving experience, in a cabin which is basic yet functional. While you have the likes of dual zone air conditioning and the option of heated leather seats, there are no trinkets or gimmicks attached to an array of buttons.

The driver has a good road view, with the air con and stereo within easy reach.

In the main binnacle are two major gauges, the speedo on the left and tachometer in the centre. The speedo can be difficult to see but a digital velocity read-out in the tacho is vital if you want to keep your licence.

On the road

Nothing short of outstanding. The BRZ is wonderfully balanced and a joy to drive.

The steering is direct and beautifully weighted which leaves you hankering for the next bend.

Changing direction at speed can be done with confidence and the stability control enables enough fun before stepping in if things begin to become too ambitious. The BRZ's grip is remarkable and tenacious as it hangs onto the bitumen.

There are five stability control settings that allow the traction control (to stop wheelspin) and stability control (to stop skids and slides) to be turned off and to different levels independently.

Acceleration figures are not astonishing, more than seven seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint, but it feels quicker.

Yet there is no need for any neck-snapping prowess every time you stomp your foot. The four-cylinder boxer engine has ample dexterity and its transmission partner, a six-speed manual in our case, has wonderful short shifts.

It does its best work between 5-6000rpm (with the redline at 7200rpm), although from 2000-3000rpm it'll pull well.

Given this is a sports car, the suspension set-up is firm so you do feel the bumps.

There is some road noise at various speeds, and while it does allow you to hear the engine note the exhaust soundtrack doesn't quite match the sporting characteristics.

What do you get?

The standard goodies include 17-inch alloy wheels (full size spare), daytime running lights, dusk sensing self-levelling Bi-Xenon headlights, dual zone climate controlled air-conditioning, keyless entry and push button start, CD stereo with USB connectivity and auxiliary jack, leather-wrapped steering wheel/gear shift and park brake, paddle shifters (auto only), black trim with red stitching and sports pedals.

There is a range of accessories for extra bling, but probably the pick of the bunch is the boot cover and leather trim. Safety is five-star, with stability control, anti-lock brakes and seven airbags.

Other options

Of course there is the Toyota 86 GTS ($35,490), or the convertible Mazda MX-5 ($47,280), Mini Cooper S ($45,500) and the Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo ($31,990).

Practicality

Don't expect to be hauling the family or a full complement of friends. Rear seat space is limited, with restrictive leg room. We managed to fit in two child seats with easy access to the anchorage points on the back parcel shelf.

The boot is small, but the one-piece rear seat folds to allow for a handy space.

It's really an environment for two up front, and there are two cup holders in the centre console along with bottle allocations in the doors.

Running costs

Official consumption is about eight litres for every 100km, and our test was consistent with that figure - but the BRZ does run on premium unleaded.

Insurance may need some investigation, but being non-turbo it shouldn't be prohibitive.

Servicing is also free for the first three years.

Funky factor

It looks as good as it drives. The BRZ is a handsome little coupe, with the dual exhaust pipe, lowered stance and sleek lines. It's a crowd pleaser. While there are seven hues, our pick would be the vivid Subaru blue.

 

What matters most

The good stuff: Outstanding handling and grip, raw driving experience.

What we'd like to see: Bluetooth audio streaming and integrated into the sound system, one in our garage.

Warranty and servicing: Warranty covers three years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing is required every nine months/15,000km. It's free for three years/60,000km.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Subaru BRZ.

Details: Two-door four-seat rear-wheel drive coupe.

Engine: 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed Boxer generating maximum power of 147kW @ 7000rpm and peak torque of 205Nm @ 6600rpm

Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

Consumption: 7.8 litres/100km (m) / 7.1 (a).

CO2: 181 (m) / 164 (a)

Performance: 0-100kmh in 7.6 seconds (man), 8.2 (auto); top speed 226kmh (m), 210kmh (a).

Bottom line: From $37,150 (m) $39,730 (a) drive-away.


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