It’s hard to believe the sporty Subaru BRZ and its Toyota twin – the 86 – are five years old; but as they say ‘time flies when you are having fun’ which is what this sporty coupe does best.
Last year we drove the Toyota 86 GT and now it’s time for a fling in the upgraded for 2017 Subaru BRZ, which gets a styling makeover, a bit more grunt and a price cut.
Let’s start with prices. The ’17 model will set you back $32,990 for the six-speed manual, some $1,230 less than its predecessor and if you opt for the $34,990 self-shifter, you will have bagged a saving of $1,735 over the previous model. Good news.
For that you get Track mode in the Vehicle Control feature, hill start assists, a new 7.0-inch touchscreen, dual-zone air, a reversing camera, keyless entry and start, cruise control, leather shifter and a new-look steering wheel and instruments featuring a digital speedo. There is also red stitching on the cloth seats, power windows and mirrors and a full-size spare. But there is no sat nav, Apple Car play or its Android twin and the six-speaker audio system is pretty basic.
Outside the ’17 model is recognisable by its new bumpers, new-look 17-inch alloys, LED lights all round and blacked out trimmings.
Behind its snout is the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated flat four, but in manual guise it now has 152 kW, (up by five) and 212Nm, (an increase of seven). Not big numbers, but they are reason enough to buy the one with the three pedals.
The low-slung driving position is one of the best going, although it is a free-fall to get down to them. Once inside, the sports pews are comfy and there is a decent amount of leg and headroom. There are cupholders in a lift out holder and a console big enough for a few bits and bobs and a neat cut out to rest your phone in. There are seats in the back but I couldn’t find anyone tiny enough to fit in them, but they do come with two baby seat anchor points. Boot space is just enough for a gym bag or a medium suitcase and the full-size spare doesn’t have a cover.
It’s when you drive up next to a large dog, your eyes level with its undercarriage, you realise how low you sit in the BRZ.
And looking out through the steeply angled windscreen, you see the tops of the guards and get the feeling that the road unfurls in front of you like a video game.
To get the most from the flat four, it needs to be rowed pretty vigorously with a corresponding and at times, high level of cabin noise. The clutch tends to bite on takeoff, due to the near straight leg driving position and takes some getting used to but once underway slicing through the six-speed gearbox needs nothing more than a bit of snappy wrist action.
Adding to your sensory workout, the steering is super communicative and precise. And while the tyres afford a reasonable level of grip, it’s not hard to get them to chirp on exiting corners.
The ride is always firm and at times hard, but on the flip side, it scythes through bends with plenty of composure. The Subaru BRZ is such fun behind the wheel, you drive out of your way to find roads that aren’t straight.
Although the BRZ isn’t overly powerful, the sublime chassis gets the most from every single kilowatt to deliver an engaging and rewarding driving experience worth every cent of its very reasonable price tag.
You can spec your own Subaru BRZ on the Subaru website.