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Subaru BRZ (2012 - 2021)

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 88

The BRZ was a Subaru like no other before it, launched back in 2012 as part of a joint project with Toyota to breathe new life into an affordable rear-wheel drive coupe market that was once so vibrant. This car doesn't need to be concussively quick, for the real joy in driving it comes through the tactility of its controls and the purity of its handling. It's much rarer than its badge-engineered cousin, the Toyota GT86, but the pure rear-driven driving experience it offers is much the same.

Modelsword count: 8

3 dr Coupe [2.0] - (sE, SE LUX)

Historyword count: 316

Subaru has a performance heritage - but not in sportscars. The Fuji Heavy Industries brand earned its stripes in the forests of the World Rally Championship where its renown 4WD technology brought victories for legends of the sport like Richard Burns and Colin McRae. The roadgoing result was the Impreza WRX STi rally replica, loud, lary and appearing with big exhausts and a whaletail spoiler in a supermarket carpark near you next Friday night. But by the end of the 21st century's first decade, with the modern appetite for cars of this kind wearing thin amongst well-heeled enthusiasts, Subaru needed a purer approach to performance. It needed a car like this, the BRZ. If you're after something that'll meet your need for speed, then this is about as far away from a rally replica as you're ever likely to get, its engineers proudly trumpeting the absence of 4WD, turbocharging and sophisticated electronics, ironically the very things that prior to the BRZ's launch in 2012 this Japanese brand had promoted to performance people for so many years. A change in philosophy then? Not really. It was more that the idea behind this car wasn't all Subaru's own. It came about as part of a joint project with Toyota, who wanted a return to the affordable sportscar market but didn't have the production or the development capacity for it. Subaru provided both, creating what they saw as a sportscar in the classic sense - rear wheel drive with a front-engined layout, a low centre of gravity and a high-revving engine. Having helped to perfect the recipe, Toyota supplied the exterior design and production began at a purpose-built plant, both of this BRZ and its near-identical Toyota counterpart, the GT86. That car always had a much higher market profile but a unique after-sales package means that this BRZ often proved a better real world choice. It sold until 2021.

What You Getword count: 560

For us, there was always something just that little bit more appealing about the looks of this BRZ in comparison to its Toyota GT86 stablemate - and we can't quite work out why, for apart from a slightly different front grille, the aesthetics of the two cars are exactly the same. Maybe it's just that we see Subaru as a slightly cooler brand. Whichever of the two you choose, the look is equally dynamic, with short front and rear overhangs, bolstered wheel arches and a muscular lean-forward stance that leaves drivers in no doubt of this car's low centre of gravity. It's all part of a purpose-driven mission emphasised by the hawk-eye-style headlights, the neat rear spoiler and distinctive 17-inch alloy pushed deep into the four corners of the body to improve the handling balance. Even more important though, is the stuff you can't see. One of the fundamentals in the design of the BRZ was to keep weight down and, thanks to fastidious attention to engineering detail, this car manages to tip the scales at a mere 1220kg - that's less than something like a tiny Renaultsport Clio 200 hatch. Of course, there are reasons for this and one of them is that inside the cabin, heavyweight, high quality soft-touch plastics are mostly notable by their absence. So don't jump out of a Volkswagen Scirocco or Audi TT into one of these and expect to be impressed. For the same reason, noise insulation has been skimped on too, something you may not thank the designers for over a long motorway journey. But then, this isn't a car you perambulate around in feeling superior about your slush-moulded dash top. And for us, what's right in this cabin far out-weighs any perceived lack of quality. For a start, the ergonomics are well nigh perfect, everything ideally placed and falling instantly to hand. There are lovely six-way adjustable sports seats and also knee-height padded panels on the door and the side of the centre console to keep you comfortable during hard cornering. The steering wheel's just the right size, untroubled by multi-function buttons that might distract you from power-sliding pleasure, and through it you view a large digital display complementing the clear analogue rev and speedo dials. This is a place where driver distractions have been kept to a minimum, the designers even using a specially developed low-gloss material finish for the dashboard to reduce glare on the windscreen. Behind you, this being a 2+2 coupe, there are a pair of tiny seats - of the kind that motoring journalists without kids tend to moan about but which we always found quite useful, even if only to throw a jacket on to. And if you do need to use them, seating someone back here for a short trip is a lot more realistic than it would be in a comparable Audi TT or Peugeot RCZ. A lot of the time though, you'll probably have them folded flat, for doing that transforms the boot capacity from fairly compact - at 243-litres - to really very spacious, the total 1270-litre seats-flat capacity apparently enough to accommodate a trolley jack and four race-ready wheels and tyres: ideal for track days then. You also get a bit of under-floor storage if you get a car whose original owner unwisely did without a full sized spare wheel.

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Category: Coupes

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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