It’s not often that the entire Australian motoring media agrees on the merits of a particular vehicle but such has been the case with the new Subaru BRZ. This exciting and affordable two-door coupe has gained rave reviews from just about everyone who’s driven it, although sadly very few members of the public, and so potential buyers, have had that opportunity and won’t have for some time.
High global demand meant that barely BRZ 200 models made it to Australia. Of these around 50 were allocated to dealers as demonstrators meaning that demand was always going to heavily outweigh supply and all available cars were sold in just over three hours when they went on sale in July this year.
Explore the 2012 Subaru BRZ range
BRZ is built at Subaru’s Ota plant in Japan as a joint venture with the company’s part-owner, Toyota, and it competes directly against its identical twin, the Toyota 86.
The division of labour between the two companies makes a lot of sense with Toyota looking after the product planning and styling while Subaru in charge of its engineering development and production.
With so few cars available Subaru adopted the unusual strategy of selling the BRZ exclusively over the internet and with national driveaway pricing – $37,150 for the manual and $39,730 for the automatic. 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.
Standard equipment includes 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.
Those that were lucky enough to purchase a BRZ will soon be able to dress it up with a range of performance parts and accessories that were shown with an STI concept car at the Sydney motor show and which will be on sale progressively from November.
These parts include front, side and boot lip spoilers, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports muffler, push start switch, instrument panel trim, black wheel nuts, rear under diffuser and flexible tower bar.
The BRZ breaks new ground for Subaru in that it has rear-wheel drive – all its other Australian models have all-wheel drive.
Power for the BRZ comes from an all-new 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed petrol engine that generates 147 kW of power at 7000 rpm and 205 Nm of torque at 6600 revs. We’ve always loved the throaty sound of the Subaru ‘boxer’ engine and so were quite happy to sit and enjoy this aural prelude before setting out on our test drive.
Equipment levels are high with standard safety equipment that includes dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and a retractor brake pedal. It comes with a five-star ANCAP rating.
The Subaru coupe certainly looks the part with its low-slung styling and short overhangs. The front is dominated by a large, hexagonal grille with sweeping headlights and the rear is tall and square with an additional brake light positioned between twin large tail pipes.
Too often otherwise enjoyable driving cars are spoilt by cramped interior space but although it’s necessary to hunker down into the driver’s seat, once settled in the seat is firm but comfortable and there’s plenty of leg and headroom.
Although there are four seats the rear pair are basically there for emergency use rather than for long-distance travel. The boot is quite small although the rear seatbacks do fold flat for extra storage space. Surprisingly for a car where space is at a premium BRZ comes with a full-size spare wheel.
Weight minimisation is paramount with performance cars and the BRZ’s combination of high tensile steel in the body and aluminium bonnet and wheels has kept its weight down to 1256 kg (manual) and 1278 kg (automatic).
As expected in a car of this type, the ride is firm with plenty of feel for the road yet comfortable enough for an extended trip. Steering is precise and direct with excellent driver feedback.
Both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions were specifically developed for the BRZ. Our test car had the manual, a delightful short-throw unit which is fast and smooth and just asks to be used frequently.
We’ve left the bad news until last because, despite ongoing pleading with Subaru’s head office decision makers, the worldwide popularity of the BRZ means that there could be a wait for up to a year before the next shipload arrives in Australia.
Price: from $37,150 (manual) to $39,730 (automatic)
Warranty: 3 years
Engine: 2.0-litre horizontal four-cylinder petrol, 147kW/205Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual or automatic, rear-wheel drive
Thirst: 7.8L/100Km, 181 g/km CO2