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New BRZ is a first for Subaru

Created on 13/09/2017 @ 11:15

Test Drive by Graham Breeze

A Subaru without four-wheel-drive just doesn’t seem right - but that’s just what you get with the updated BRZ sports coupe.

It’s the company’s first dalliance with rear-wheel-drive and the 2.0i SE Lux Auto on test has been updated from top to bottom and that means inside, outside, under the bonnet, suspension and even safety levels.

Outwardly the changes are subtle rather than dramatic, despite Subaru’s claims that this is an all-new model. Yes, it’s a little wider with a slightly lower stance and an aerodynamic spoiler, but probably the most noticeable change sees the introduction of stunning 10-spoke alloys.

Inside the BRZ has been dragged into the 21st century with the introduction of a 6.2 inch colour multi-function display unit, better quality materials have been used and I was particularly taken with the new and smaller leather steering wheel.

The fascia update was long overdue and is a big improvement over the previous unit but is still not up to the standard of rivals in this 2-plus-2 sector which includes Mazda MX5, Peugeot RcZ  and Audi TT.

The guys at Subaru say BRZ was built to deliver a linear driving feel, ensuring that the car responds exactly as the driver intended and to make this happen the suspension, engine and drivetrain have been refined to further enhance handling and driving experience.

And I think they can justify that claim. It’s been a long while since I drove the outgoing model but if memory serves well the new model is more stable with the rear-driven axle not totally dominating and providing a much more stable feel at speed.

Those who know a little about engines will appreciate that inside the Subaru hallmark Boxer engine the strength of the cylinder blocks has been increased, the valve stems have been buffed and polished, the camshaft is lower friction and the weight of the rocker arms has been reduced.

Add those changes together and you get a more responsive, fuel efficient engine which averages 40mpg on the combined cycle, has a top speed of 130mph and gets you to 62mph in just 8.2 seconds.

Redesigned dampers have reduced some body roll on bends and that keeps vibration levels down too, while engaging the new “Track” mode improves overall stability to give that extra bit of sporty performance.

Hill Start Assist has been introduced to help with uphill starts or downhill reversing and a next-generation advanced airbag system added which uses upgraded sensors for a greater level of safety.

The front seats are comfortable enough and there’s all the steering adjustment you need to find the right driving position but even the smallest kids would find no leg room in the back of this 2-plus-2 and don’t plan to go golfing as there’s not enough room for the clubs in the boot.

It’s questionable whether this Subaru is value for money because with the Sat Nav system fitted it will set you back £27,680 – though does any two-seater really get judged on price? I doubt it.

Standard equipment includes, power windows, remote controlled central locking, keyless entry, centre cup holders, 12-volt power outlets, boot upper floor storage, dual-zone air conditioning, Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, voice recognition system, Bluetooth and paddle-shift gearchange.

Safety levels are high with airbags all-round, side door reinforcement beams, steering column support beam, ABS and Brake Assist systems, alarm and engine immobiliser and the Track mode function.

Will Subaru’s first venture into the rear-wheel drive market be a success? Only time will tell but there’s a lot of competition in the sector and questions will be asked about if the changes are revolutionary enough.


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