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On the road: Subaru’s new BRZ
might think you know every last detail about the BRZ. Between Subaru and
Toyota, there’s been a blizzard of multimedia. Enough concept cars, prototype
sneak previews and track tests to broach your download limits.
you don’t know it all. Because this is a road car, and here we are for the
first time on the actual road.
does it live up to the hype? Of course not. Unless it had been styled by da
Vinci and engineered by Brunel – and for good measure had Newton quietly bent
the laws of mechanics in its favour – it’d never have been as good as they said
it would be.
oh my, it comes close.
quick recap. It’s a low-built, short-overhang, long-wheelbase rear-drive coupe.
But the centre of mass is even lower than everyone else’s cars of that type,
because it has a flat-four engine. And actually the flat-four is even lower and
far further back than with other Subarus, because (since it’s RWD-only) there
are no front driveshafts or diff in the way. There’s a limited-slip diff. It
uses comparatively narrow tyres, so its 200bhp is enough.
whole thing is a recipe for agility, low roll, tossable handling and general
so it turns out. The first few mountain hairpins or wet roundabouts verify that
pivoting into a corner is the most natural feeling in the world. The front
wheels are always happy to carve the exact track you request. Then you can poke
the back end out and feel the hero. And unlike some rear-drivers, the BRZ’s
magical balance and progression means it’s a cinch to gather up again. The low
roll makes it marvellously tidy through S-bends.
a road car needs more from its suspension and steering than a track car does.
The steering needs to be direct and progressive, so you can pour the car into
an uneven or unknown bend. The springs need to absorb bumps and keep the tyres
evenly weighted so you don’t hop about.
the BRZ is brilliant there too. All the steering lacks is a bit more feel, to
tell you how much grip the tyres have left. But in this car more than in most,
you don’t miss that because the rest of the car’s reactions are so accurate and
faithful. You get the information from other sources.
200bhp two-litre is enough engine. Just. In this age of turbos, it does seem
very light on torque between 3000 and 4000rpm. You have to revise your whole
style of driving. Change down. And again. Rev its little spuds off, make sure
you keep getting flashed by shift-up light as you zero in on 7500. That way
happiness lies. For a flat-four, it doesn’t sound as charismatic as it might,
but it’s always smooth enough that there’s no pain in sticking with those epic
though all of that might seem, this is a road car and you’ve got to be able to
live with it. And though it’s firm, the ride is OK because you sit so low and
so far from the wheels, there’s very little pitch and rock. The seats are
brilliant and the legs-forward driving position spot-on. Everything quietens
down decently at a motorway cruise. It’s easy to see out of, and the boot’s a
decent size. If the front passenger slides forward, there’s even space to jam a
grown-up in behind. Though there’d be human rights issues if you kept them
there for more than 10 minutes.
it looks good. Very good actually – bigger, more grown-up and less delicate
than in pictures. A serious car.
a serious laugh.