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Subaru BRZ 2012 Review


Rarely have we seen such keen anticipation for the arrival of a new car in Australia as we have for the Toyota-Subaru joint venture sports car, the Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86.

We were one of a small number of motoring journalists that were given a sneak preview of the BRZ during a trip to Japan last year and, along with many keen Australian drivers, we’ve been counting the days till it arrived here.

Well that day has now come...and gone. Because of high global demand, and an 8:1 ratio of supply in favour of Toyota, only 201 models made it here.

Of these around 50 were allocated to dealers as demonstrators meaning that demand was always going to heavily outweigh supply and the remaining models were never going to be on the (virtual) showroom floor - all were sold via the internet - for very long. Even allowing for a system crash caused by the unprecedented demand it took just three hours and two minutes for all to be sold.

The obvious alternative for those who missed out would normally be to switch over and buy a Toyota 86 – the two cars are virtually identical. However all 1500 of them allocated to Toyota Australia have also been sold with at least another 500 on back order.


Subaru opted for national driveaway pricing for the BRZ with the manual selling for $37,150 and the automatic for $39,730. While the entry-level Toyota 86 GT manual is priced at $29,990 that’s before on-road costs and with lower equipment levels than the Subaru so an apples-with-apples comparison brings the two models closer together in price.

We suspect that price will not be a major issue for potential buyers as they anxiously await new stock of this outstanding little car to arrive. Standard features are cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, push-button start and stop, sports seats, front and rear foglights and power folding side mirrors.


Both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions were specifically developed for the BRW. Our test car had the manual, a delightful short-throw unit which is fast and smooth and just asks to be used frequently. The BRZ’s engine is also new, a 2.0-litre boxer with 147 kW of power at 7000 rpm and 205 Nm of torque at 6600 revs.


When the car was unveiled to us in Japan its styling brought universal approval and nothing has changed now that we’ve been able to view it on the open road. The front is dominated by a large, hexagonal grille with sweeping headlights trimmed with daytime running lights while the rear is tall and square with an additional brake light positioned between twin large tail pipes. 

Everything about it looks the part. Inside the BRZ there are four seats although rear seat legroom is very cramped, indeed it’s non-existent when the front seats are all the way back, but that’s to be expected in a car like this and is not a criticism.

Boot space is reasonable although Subaru have gone with a full-size spare wheel which juts through the boot floor meaning that luggage has to sit on top of the wheel. If ever a car needed a space saver wheel this is it.


Standard safety equipment includes ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, seven airbags, Vehicle Stability Control, ring-shaped reinforced passenger cabin, side intrusion bars and retractor brake pedal, and a five-star ANCAP rating.


With so few cars available there wasn’t the usual test drive component at Subaru’s recent BRZ launch in Sydney, however we were fortunate enough to have been one of a handful of journalists who were given a car to drive for a couple of days prior to the launch. And didn’t we make the most of it?

You don’t need to wait for the BRZ’s 17-inch alloy wheels to start turning to enjoy this car. The enjoyment begins as soon as you turn on the ignition and hear the delightful throaty burble that’s characteristic of the Subaru ‘boxer’ engine. It’s not so loud as to disturb the neighbours but just enough to whet the appetite of the driving enthusiast.

On the road the fun continues. This is a superb car to drive with almost perfect chassis balance thanks to its low centre of gravity and rear-wheel drive (Subaru had to bite the bullet there). The combination of high tensile steel in the body and aluminum bonnet and wheels has kept its weight down to 1256 kg (manual) and 1278 kg (automatic) adding to its agility. Steering is precise and direct with excellent driver feedback.


Too often in the past we’ve been disappointed when the pre-release hype for a new car fails to match reality. Not so in this case - if anything the BRZ is even better than we expected.

Subaru BRZ

Price: $37,150 (man) $39,730 (auto) driveway
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol 147kW/205Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man or auto; RWD
Safety: 5 star ANCAP
Dimensions: 4.2m (l); 1.8 (w); 1.2 (h)
Weight: 1216kg (man); 1238 (auto)
Thirst: 6.4l/100km 181g/co2 km (man); 5.6l, 164g (auto)
Spare: 17-inch

Pricing guides

Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $12,800 – 18,480 2012 Subaru BRZ 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 2 car listings in the last 6 months

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