Subaru BRZ (2012) Review
Subaru BRZ (2012) At A Glance
Insurance Groups are between 30–31
On average it achieves 108% of the official MPG figure
Light, compact and agile is everything sports car fans want, and Subaru delivers exactly that with its BRZ, so it should sell in huge numbers. It doesn’t, which is odd given it pretty much ticks every box in for those who like, no, love, driving. The BRZ is stymied for a couple of reasons, Subaru is a tiny part player in the UK market, and the BRZ is available from Toyota dealers wearing its T on the nose and the GT86 badge on the bootlid. Its specification underlines that Toyota’s pinched its sportscar from Subaru, as the BRZ features the company’s well-known boxer engine under the low bonnet, which helps keep things low and level in the corners. If you enjoy driving, it’s worth looking out for a BRZ.
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Subaru might be long associated with asymmetrical four-wheel drive and rugged utility, but the BRZ ditches some driveshafts, sends its meagre power to the rear and isn’t ever likely to cross a field – unless, of course, you get it spectacularly wrong going around a corner.
It does come with Subaru’s other notable technical quirk, a boxer engine. If that means nothing to you then it’s forgivable, but, simply, it’s got an engine that has two sets of pistons working opposite to each other. That means the engine is ‘flat’ – like those in a Porsche 911 - allowing it to sit low in the chassis, to the benefit of weight distribution.
Unlike the Porsche’s boxer engine the one in the BRZ is naturally-aspirated, 2.0-litres in capacity and only has four-cylinders, all of which means it’s got a fairly modest 200PS, which is delivered pretty high up the rev range.
That’s not a complaint though, as the BRZ’s light, and part of the joy of driving it is the need to work with what you’ve got, maintaining speed via the BRZ’s accomplished dynamics. It’s on skinny little tyres, you sit low, right between the wheels and need to work the engine and either the sweet-shifting six-speed manual or the not as appealing, but easier day-to-day, paddle-shifted automatic, pretty hard to get the most from it.
Do that and the BRZ is a hugely rewarding, engaging, enjoyable driver’s car, that is a rare treat these days. There’s none of the meddling ‘driver aids’ you’ll find on more expensive rivals, the BRZ a pared, back-to-basics sports car for those who enjoy the journey as much as reaching their destination.
It might be simple, but it’s not overly compromised. There are a pair of seats in the rear, which might not be able to fit adults but can accommodate small children if necessary, while the boot’s a decent size for a car that puts driver appeal at the top of the list of priorities.
It’s only offered in coupe form, too, which differentiates it from what’s arguably its key rival, and other driver-focussed small car from Japan, the Mazda MX-5. Buying a BRZ is a very deliberate choice, then, one that defines you as someone who enjoys their driving, that even more so if you pick the Subaru over its more common Toyota GT86 relation.
That GT86 and the Mazda MX-5 might be its most obvious rivals, but if you’re in the market for a small hot hatch then the GT86 is likely to appeal.
It might lack their outright firepower, but the fine balance from the chassis and the joy you’ll have on the right road will see you forgive it that.