So we test drove the Toyota GT86 back in 2012, we felt it was a good driver’s car but the interior let it down. We got the chance to have its twin brother the Subaru BRZ for a whole week to see if it changed our minds.
The Subaru BRZ costs £23,995. For that money you get a 1230 KG, 197 BHP, 205 Nm of Torque and a 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds.
Now you may be thinking ‘Pfft I can get a hot hatch with better specs than that for £19k’ and yes you would be correct. However the BRZ is rear wheel drive, and this commands a premium in the front wheel drive world we live in today.
Personally I would ALWAYS have the Subaru over the Toyota. Yes they are exactly the same – bar the front bumper and the small trim pieces on the front wings – but when someone asks you what car you drive…exactly!
It’s a good looker, bold and masculine. There are things we would change, like the very eBay style ‘Lexus’ lights. But overall it’s a small, perfectly formed 2 door coupe.
After spending much longer with the Subaru we have to confirm our original suspicions…it is a SUPERB driver’s car!
This car will improve anyone’s driving, you can learn so much about car control from this platform.
Power wise the Subaru BRZ will never set the world alight, but its one of those cars (along with the Swift Sport) that teaches you that insane power and torque figures aren’t needed.
The BRZ is the type of car you have to work with, you have to find a flow to get the best pace and speed out of it. Miss a gear or don’t change down for an overtake and you get bogged down in the lower end of the rev range, but heel and toe just before the red line and you will have what seems like unending pace.
That’s another thing the Subaru will teach your average Joe driver, heel and toe. The pedals are so perfectly placed that it makes it a doddle to brake, blip the revs then change down.
For best results regarding driver development it’s best to set the VSC to Sport, this will let you get the behind out at junctions and allow you to venture into that scary world of wheel spinning action. When you have found your feet you can then hold down the traction control button to fully disengage all the safety…
The relatively low torque and skinny Prius tyres mean that when you do go it alone with no electronic safety net, you have a very controllable car.
Grip in the dry is still very good, you have to rev quite a lot harder to unsettle the rear out of a corner, in the wet however you simply have to turn and accelerate as normal to get the rear wheels sliding around.
But what’s so good about the BRZ is the progressive way you lose that grip, you don’t have 500 Nm of torque ready to kick in at a moment’s notice. So you don’t have that fear of it flinging you off into a hedge!
It just ever so slowly ends, meaning it’s a doddle to correct and control.
Now when you don’t want to be a hooligan the BRZ does a fantastic job round the twisties.
Leave traction control on, and keep the red line bouncing off the rev limiter down your favourite B road you will be in heaven. The way the rear sticks down and grips into the corners is superb, even when trying too hard and getting on the power a bit early in a corner the limited slip diff keeps you from sliding off the road sideways.
Suspension setup is firm but not crashy, it’s as a pure thoroughbred driver would want it. Easily compliant enough for longer journeys, but hard enough to have fun with.
Braking is sharp, with nice pedal feel. It’s well-modulated giving progressive force all the way to the floor.
Steering is very good for an electronic setup, it’s well weighted and very accurate, it has to be one of the best cars in terms of feedback and precision that we have driven.
Now for the interior…
We absolutely LOVE the seats! Previously we had only sat in the 2k premium jobbies in the GT86, the standard ones in the BRZ are easily up to the job. They are just so tightly hugging, even up to your shoulders, you are held beautifully in the corners.
And the rest? Plasticy…very plasticy. The stereo isn’t great either, turn it up toward the top end and it distorts like hell. Oh, and you have to use a rather strange phono AND USB lead to plug your iPod into…just for the extra 90’s feel.
If im paying £24k for a car, I expect a slightly better interior that this. Take any of the current hot hatch crop, even the plastic Fiesta ST has smarter innards than the Subaru.
Without doubt there isn’t a driver’s car out there for this kind of money. The only real alternative is the Mazda MX5, but you have to put up with a drop top if you want to go there…
The Subaru BRZ will teach you bucket loads about grip, car control, balance and new driving techniques. For this reason alone it’s worth the £23,995.
Subaru BRZ – Thoroughbred driver’s car, it will teach you a lot!
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter