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Subaru BRZ 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the2015 Subaru BRZ, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Sports cars generally hit the wall a couple of years after launch - and not because they've been pinched by ram-raiders. Enthusiasts buy early in a model's life, after which the vehicle enters a sales slump.

Not even a CarsGuide Car of the Year is immune from the trend, with sales of the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins down by 25 per cent and 38 per cent respectively year to date.

Value-adding is one way to delay the inevitable and power boosts are another. Subaru has opted for the former, launching its 2015 BRZ with minor interior tweaks, improved suspension damping and drive-away pricing - $37,150 for the six-speed manual or $39,730 for the six-speed auto.

There's also a special edition pack the company says represents up to $9040 of bolt-on bits for $3500 more. The basics of the BRZ are unchanged: 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine and rear-drive, the customary layout for getting around a succession of corners rather than straight-line speed. In that regard, it's a spiritual successor to the Mazda MX-5, their common trait being the ability to be tuned well beyond the factory-specified outputs.

DRIVING 

Subaru and Toyota may have collaborated on the twins but sit behind the BRZ's wheel and it smells and sounds like a Subaru. No surprise really, given the car is built by Subaru and the 2.0-litre boxer engine is the same as in an Impreza, albeit capped with at Toyota-derived cylinder head and direct fuel injection.

The engine redlines at 7400rpm and most of the accelerative action takes place not far off that. Peak power kicks in at 7000rpm; maximum torque is just 400rpm below that.

The high-spirited engine favours a manual gearbox to keep it spinning up where it provides a solid shove in the back. The six-speed auto is OK but it's primarily for those who have bought the BRZ for its style rather than its substance.

Learn to work with the BRZ's strengths and this two-door coupe is a delight. It is sluggish off the mark by sports car standards but once under way, few can match its nimbleness, thanks to the light weight and quick-revving flat four.

This is all about the drive, from the direct steering to the lift-off oversteer that demands commitment to a corner. Serious drivers will replace the tyres, given they're the first thing to let go when the going gets serious. Even the regular rubber encourages high corner speeds and the natural chassis balance means it is easy to bring the car back into line.

The driving position is brilliant, the gearshift falls directly to hand and the display - rightly dominated by a tachometer - is clear and easy to read. That's the best bit about the interior. The downside is dated tech: old-school radio, no standard satnav and Bluetooth that rates as an antique.

You have to pay an extra $1500 to match the 86 GTS's colour touchscreen satnav as well as premium heated sports seats. Forget about the rear seats. As with most 2+2 sports cars, the rear pews are primarily there to store luggage, especially as the uncovered full-size spare occupies a large area of the boot.

Verdict

Forgive it the sins of a spartan interior and the BRZ is still a loveable larrikin with the inherent characteristics to keep a motoring enthusiast smiling. Not the quickest kid on the block but one of the cheekiest.

HOW TO AVOID THE BLING STING 

The moral of the BRZ special edition is don't pay full hook for accessories and have them fitted after purchase. Subaru says the recommended retail price of its upgraded bling amounts to $9040 on manual models or $7990 for automatic versions.

Wheels apart, most of the cost is in the labour and painting the accessories to match the car colour. The inclusions run from aerodynamic aids to larger wheels and prettier panel appendages but they collectively amount to bling from the company's STI performance arm.

At $9000 it's not a pretty picture; for $3500 it's a cheap way to dress up what is already a good-looking sports car. In terms of practicality the additions vary, ranging from a rear underbody diffuser to 17-inch wheels, short-throw manual shift mechanism with STI-branded gearknob, STI front side and rear spoilers, push-button start switch and GT stripes.

Pricing Guides

$26,990
Based on 18 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,290
Highest Price
$34,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,880 – 26,990 2015 Subaru BRZ 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs
Premium 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $19,290 – 27,990 2015 Subaru BRZ 2015 Premium Pricing and Specs
Premium Hyper Blue 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $31,990 – 34,990 2015 Subaru BRZ 2015 Premium Hyper Blue Pricing and Specs
STi SE 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $23,320 – 28,820 2015 Subaru BRZ 2015 STi SE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Pricing Guide

$19,290

Lowest price, based on 19 car listings in the last 6 months

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