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Heroic Subaru

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

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DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Apparently, the BRZ's name tells you everything you need to know about this car. B stands for Boxer engine, R for Rear wheel drive and Z for Zenith — the ultimate in affordable thrills. Is that what this is? From an early glance at the stats, you might wonder. There's nothing especially startling here, the 2.0 litre flat-four engine producing 197bhp and 205Nm of torque, enough to get you to 60 from rest in 7.6s on the way to a top speed of 143mph. Plenty of comparably priced hot hatches can match or beat that. But none of them can deliver the driving experience on offer from this Subaru.

It's a normally aspirated, front-engined, rear-wheel drive coupe.

For a keen driver, the recipe doesn't get much purer. Plumb in a boxer engine that helps it to a centre of gravity lower than a Ferrari 458, add a proper mechanical limited slip differential and offer a six-speed manual gearbox with three beautifully spaced aluminium-plated pedals in the footwell and you have what most would agree is a very good start. Even from this point it would have been easy to get things wrong. But Subaru didn't. On the contrary, the BRZ is so right in so many ways it's almost as if the hand of Porsche has worked upon it. There's a simplicity to its controls, a delicacy and tactility to the steering and the pedals that offer the keen driver so much.

Design and Build

The steering wheel's just the right size, untroubled by multi-function buttons that might distract you from powersliding pleasure, and through it you view a large digital display complementing the clear analogue rev and speedo dials.

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 I find quite useful, even if only to throw a jacket on to. 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.

Market and Model

Value can be a tough issue for potential buyers to agree upon. On the one hand with this BRZ you're paying around £25,000 for a car that can't hold a candle to a Kia cee'd when it comes to creature comforts and technology. But on the other, you've an enthusiast's tool that nothing else in the sector bar this Subaru's Toyota GT86 sister car can match.

You also get plenty of equipment included in the deal, most of what you'd want in fact, so check off features like the smart silver and black-finished 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlamps with pop-up washers, front fog lamps, power-folding mirrors, the torque-sensing limited slip different, a six-speaker CD stereo with USB compatibility and an aux-in point, dual-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, aluminium pedals, cruise control and Hill Start Assist on manual models to stop you rolling backwards on uphill junctions. The top SE Lux model also includes lovely leather and alcantara trim for the sports seats and seat heaters.

Summary

Let's be clear about this: the Subaru BRZ is a very special car. Better indeed than any true World Rally Blue Subaru optimist could hope to expect. It has a beautiful simplicity that speaks of paring back to the essence of driving purity, including just enough of what you need and nothing that you don't.

This is a hero car for our times, one that rewards the talented driver without making the less proficient feel clumsy or unworthy. Of course, you've to pay for your pleasures, but Subaru has an Everything Taken Care of after-sales package unequalled in the industry.

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