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Subaru BRZ manual 2012 first drive review


Few mainstream cars have the same visual cut-through on the street as the Subaru BRZ. Other drivers see it and the rubber necking starts, or the chasing, or the phone camera comes out. It wears thin after a day or two.

It's Subaru's version of the joint venture sports car developed with Toyota that was designed to cater for a specific market at a sharp price. Such is the appeal of this new, compact rear drive sports coupe that you will have to put your name on an order list before actually getting behind the wheel.


Toyota's near identical 86 starts at an incredible $29,990 plus on roads for the GT, rising $5500 for the better equipped GTS.
Subaru's BRZ is available in one spec' only at $37,150 drive-away with a six-speed auto adding $2600. It will only be sold online and is specified to a similar standard as Toyota's GTS.

Subaru offers the BRZ with three years free servicing along with the three year unlimited km warranty. It has a five star crash rating and plenty to make you feel good about your choice including auto on/off bi-xenon headlights, a full size alloy spare, alloy pedals, dual zone aircon, keyless start, Bluetooth, Datadots and power operated ancillaries.


The only external difference we could see between the two cars side by side is a small faux bumper at the front of the BRZ with attendant grille changes. Everything else looks the same except for minor body hardware and badges.

Which one looks the best? Toss a coin. The same applies to the way the two drive — close your eyes and you couldn't pick it, open them...ditto.

We really like the look of the BRZ (and the 86) inside and out. The Sooby has some minor interior differences and some additional metal look fascia finishes. But the instrumentation is relatively simple and uncluttered and other aspects of the package are impressive. Satnav and leather are optional.


Like the 86, the BRZ runs a horizontally opposed, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder with twin cams per bank and variable valve timing.
The Atkinson cycle (delayed valve closing) engine is quite highly specified in component terms and spins to about 7300rpm. It passes Euro 5 emissions regulations with help from port and direct fuel injection —  yes, a dual, sequential fuel system.

Power output is a handy 147kW with 205Nm of torque — both delivered at the upper rev limits. But it's good enough to propel the 1256kg BRZ from 0-100kmh in a reasonable 7.6 seconds.

The six-speed manual version we drove offers short, sharp shifts with close intermediate ratios to keep you where the power is, adding a sporty feel at the same time. here's a clever engine pipe feeding a raspy note into the cabin for aural appreciation. But you'll need to feed it 98 octane only, due to the high 12.5:1 compression ratio.

The rear suspension is a lift from Subaru's WRX STi as is the tail shaft design and other bits and pieces. Extra traction is provided by a Torsen diff' and there are two modes for the stability control system.


Dynamics are firm and sporty aided by electric steering, stiff springs and dampers and the rigid chassis. Wheels are 17-inch with sporty rubber.
On the road the BRZ delivers reasonable performance and sounds pretty good as long as you are prepared to rev it.

Adequate torque is available in the mid-range for everyday driving. As suggested by the power and torque curves, everything happens above 6000rpm — great for sporty driving. The five mode stability control isn't too intrusive and all dynamic functions are calibrated to be sporty.


Impressive car. It is a viable everyday driver with seats for four at a pinch and a reasonable load space -- expandable with the rear seat back folded (flat). But where's the turbo?

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

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Based on 12 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

(base) 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $17,990 – 22,888 2012 Subaru BRZ 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 12 car listings in the last 6 months

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