Making a sports car using parts sourced from two mainstream car makers
Subaru builds predominantly all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles but what is arguably its most exciting car in recent time has a 2wd layout. The sporty BRZ coupe was co-developed by Subaru and Toyota and is built at Subaru’s Gunma plant in Japan. The BRZ name is derived from three elements; the Boxer engine, Rear wheel drive and Zenith whereas Toyota uses the 86 nameplate that is taken from the former AE86 for its version.
The first shipment of a dozen BRZs arrived in New Zealand in early December 2012 and was already sold before the ship docked at the port. Initially the supply couldn't keep up with the global demand, especially as Toyota was allocated the bulk of the vehicles. Even in Australia all 201 vehicles were sold-out within three hours of being available to order online.
In New Zealand the first 12 new BRZs were delivered to their owners on the 12/12/2012; a repetition of numbers that doesn't occur often. The dozen owners were rewarded with an opportunity to drive their cars on the Hampton Downs race track and received personalised numbered BRZ plates to mark the occasion.
The BRZ is built to one specification only with the choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The sleek body design and low roof-line has resemblance to the early 1990s Toyota Celica and the floorplan as well as the suspension are carried over from the Subaru Impreza and a number of components are sourced from the sporty WRX STI too.
The interior has a classic design with front sport seats that sit nice and low down and have adequate side support. The two rear seats aren’t a practical choice for adult passengers and even small kids will find it a squeeze. The full size spare wheel dominates the boot space but the one piece rear seat can fold flat to free up extra luggage space.
The features that noticeably distinguish the Subaru BRZ apart from the Toyota 86 are the inverted grille, different fog lamp surrounds and the badges.
The new ‘FA’ 2.0 litre Subaru boxer engine was specifically designed for the coupe. The decision to use Subaru’s flat-four powerplant instead of an in-line four or V6 from Toyota’s parts bin was made to lower the coupe’s centre of gravity. The engine is fitted with Toyota’s advanced D4S (direct and port injection) fuel system and the petrol economy is claimed at 7.1L/100km for the auto and 7.8L/100km for the stick shifter while using the recommended premium 98 octane juice. The flat-four motor delivers an effective 147kW of power and 205Nm of torque and it meets the Euro 5 emissions standards. It manages a sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds for the manual and 8.2 seconds with the auto 'box.
The stick shifter provides the more engaging drive but steering wheel paddle shifters fitted to the auto ‘box versions give the driver the option to manually shift the gears up or down and the Torsen limited-slip differential ensures the wheel with the most traction receives all the power.
There is a range of STI performance parts and accessories available for personalizing the BRZ. These include spoiler kits, suspension components, alloy-wheels rims, a quick shift gear lever kit and sports exhaust mufflers.
Echoing the Subaru 'confidence in motion' moto
The BRZ isn't the fastest sports car on the open road, or the most powerful car available on Subaru showroom floors but it quickly makes up for this with its sharp handling. The evenly balanced chassis as well as the low centre of gravity and rear-wheel drive setup are characteristics that define the sports car and make it a blast to drive.
The BRZ is awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating. Passive safety features include seven airbags and active safety features include Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheel rims shod with 215/45 Michelin rubber, leather and Alcantara upholstery, push start/stop button and sport foot pedals.
Pricing kicks off at $48,990 for the manual gearbox option and $49,990 for the automatic transmission version.