We drove the Subaru BRZ: the sports car for purists


Every sporting driver wants it some time or another: a pure, thoroughbred sports car, which handles like a sports shoe, and fits like a glove. A car with an honest, non-turbo, high revving engine, coupled to a manual gearbox, which allows you to unfold all your gearshift talents. A car with a crisp, direct and precise steering, which enhances your talent of always choosing that ideal line.

Well this car exists. It is a joint engineering effort with the talented developers of Subaru and Toyota, all lovers of pure sports cars themselves. The result is a stunning, genuine sports car, which delivers that driving pleasure you always dreamt of. We tested all this for you. Just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel


Already judging from its sleek looks, one immediately sees what this car has been built for. The silhouette is somewhat reminiscent of the iconic Toyota 2000 sports car, and the external dimensions  of the BRZ are indeed hardly bigger. This sleek coupé will seat two adults, and two (much) smaller children will find a place in the back. BRZ means actually B(oxer) R(ear Wheel Drive Z(enith). Toyota markets the same car as its GT 86.

Stepping into the car, one immediately is put in the proper mood. Right in the line of sight sits a large rev counter, and this is indeed the most important instrument for the purist. Inside the dial lights up a digital speedometer, and this is certainly useful, as this BRZ just begs to go.


Feel the experience of pure, classic sportiness

Your right hand drops intuitively on the gearlever, and it is just irresistible to choose a gear right away. You immediately feel the short throw, and how precise the box really feels. Now you push the starting knob and this four cylinder boxer bursts eagerly into life. This BRZ then shoots ahead in bottom gear, and it takes a rather delicate right foot to make your getaway less dynamic. In every gear there is plenty of pulling power, as the ratios are ideally matched to keep the engine “on song” when accelerating. The top 6th gear is sufficiently short to give you impressive accelerations, but below 2500 rpm one is well advised to change down, to enjoy the full potential of this thoroughbred engine.


And a “pur sang” unit it really is. Full power of 147Kw or 200 HP is developed at not less than 7000 rpm, with maximum torque of 205 Nm being available between 6.400 and 6.600 rpm. It likes to be revved, and indeed, power deployment is progressive, as the engine is unblown. This means you are experiencing sporting driving in the most classic sense, and we truly love(d) it.


The purposeful boxer roar is heard every meter you drive it, and it is truly music in your ears. Despite its eagerness to deploy its power, the engine is also utterly docile and flexible, and will potter along without any protest at 1000 rpm, just to allow you that smooth stroll in the small and narrow streets in the historic cities you encounter on your grand tour.


Because a grand touring car this BRZ truly is. Driving on curvy roads and mountain passes is a true delight, and that is precisely what this car is engineered and built for. The boxer engine with its low gravity point, placed almost amidships  in the BRZ, just warrants that ideal weight distribution; this means you can steer with confidence at very high speeds through any corner you encounter, and this BRZ will take you masterfully through it. As an expert driver you have of course changed down to the right gear for this curve, and the engine will rev beautifully to above 7000 rpm when you accelerate out of it. Due to the ideal weight distribution, this BRZ sits nicely on its rear wheels, and they will hardly spin at all, harnessed also by the double wishbone rear suspension and last but not least the Torsen Limited Slip differential, the same one which is found on the Subaru WRX STI.


Of course there is Vehicle Stability Control, to keep you out of trouble if you would get over-enthusiastic. Just note that there is a touch button on the driving centre console, enabling to select VSC and the “sport” mode, which gives the engine and chassis that extra responsiveness, with the engine note still more expressive when it revs up in an eager staccato. Performance leaves therefore little to be desired, with a 0 to 100 sprint time of 7,6 seconds and a top speed of 226 kmh. This is in modern day standards not extremely fast, but behind the wheel, the BRZ certainly feels like it!


The BRZ is also an excellent motorway cruiser. With very good straight line stability, and very low wind noise and tyre roar. The impressive aerodynamics (a Cx value of merely 0.27) let you also enjoy high speed cruising with very reasonable economy and little fuss. The suspension is firmish, but the seats are excellent, and offer good support and comfort on long(er) trips, and of course hold you tight on fast curves…

Economy depends of course greatly on your driving style, but constant speed consumption is quite reasonable. The EC average is quoted at 7.8 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions being 180 g/km.

Purposeful equipment


We just love the philosophy of this BRZ. Just sportiness for the purist, no thrills no fills. An honest radio, with a minimum of available features, but nevertheless with DAB and a CD player, no parking aids or rear view camera, just an USB/Aux connection for your amusement and charge your phone of hook up a navigation device. As the BRZ does not even have a central touchscreen…



If you look for a pure, honest sports car with good looks, excellent handling and a marvel of a thoroughbred boxer which revs beautifully, then this BRZ certainly fills the bill. It is attractively priced, offers very reasonable economy and is sturdy and reliable. But above all, it delivers tons of driving pleasure, every meter you drive it.

It is not the performance itself (Subaru still has the superfast WRX), but it is the way it deploys it, which will win your heart. Yes, the pure sports car still exists. Subaru has it, it’s called BRZ.

Just stay tuned for more Subaru test news soon. We also drove recently the 2 liter Diesel Outback and the 1,6 liter Levorg…

Hans Knol ten Bensel











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