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The Top Gear car review:Subaru BRZ
For:Sheer grin-inducing fun factor, simple approach brings a connection not often found in modern cars
Against:Engine isn't all that fast which will confuse some
2.0i SE Lux 2dr
What we say:
All is forgiven Subaru, the agile, zesty BRZ is a genuine driver's coupe
What is it?
Subaru BRZ: it stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. No, that’s not a particularly dynamic name, which is a shame - because the car certainly is. Jointly developed with Toyota, the BRZ marks a break from tradition for four-wheel drive stalwarts Subaru. The BRZ instead boasts a lightweight rear-drive chassis, although it does use a Subaru-trademark flat-four engine mounted low in the front. So low, in fact, Subaru says the centre of gravity is lower than a Ferrari 458’s.
Toyota may have done the design and the direct injection tech for the engine, but Subaru has done pretty much everything else. This is very much Subaru’s car, meaning the small coupe duo is most authentically replicated in BRZ guise. A brand new car built from scratch, it’s all been designed to maximise driver entertainment.
The BRZ is not a massively fast car. Developing 200bhp and a meagre 151lb ft of torque, it hits 60mph in 7.6 seconds. It’s light though, and Subaru has at least worked what little torque there is really hard: almost all of it is available before 3,000rpm. This means it picks up well when you put your foot down at low revs and, although it tails off in the mid range, it becomes very keen and energetic in the final 2,000rpm. The noise is suitably interesting too, really smooth and slightly offbeat.
The engine isn’t the best thing about it though. The handling is. The BRZ drives as if in perfect harmony, almost totally neutral and with little apparent roll, pitch or dive. It steers like it has no weight to deal with and, when nearing the limit, you get loads of warning before things get critical. Even the steering, despite being electrically assisted, is impressive: the springy weighting is lovely and it delivers real sensations back to your hands. It’s simply great fun, easily better to drive than a VW Scirocco.
On the inside
Inside the simple cabin, the driver sits low – another benefit of that flat four engine is that the seat can be mounted low yet the driver can still see over the bonnet. It’s this architecture that makes the BRZ feel special, rather than any neat details. Subaru has intentionally kept things plain here, as part of the drive for purity. Some may consider it too plain: for them, we suggest a Scirocco or Peugeot RCZ. They clearly don’t get this.
Oddly, the optional auto is more economical than the manual, which averages a so-so 36.2mpg. There are two trims but there’s not much between them: all the SE Lux adds are leather/Alcantara seats. Either has become even more tempting thanks to Subaru’s recent price cuts: the SE is down to just £22,495. It’s finally become the bargain it always promised to be.