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Subaru BRZ: Put simply, the simple sports car is back

POSTED BY admin ON 23 April 2012

A CLOSED up parking lot in Singapore isn’t the best place to sample one of the most anticipated cars of the year, Subaru’s first rear-wheel drive sports car, the BRZ.

Yet, Motor Image managed to make the most of it and squeeze in a short autocross circuit, which allowed members of the media from around the region to get a brief feel of the BRZ’s talents.

There is much expectations riding on the BRZ, this being the twin sister of Toyota’s 86 sports car, the spiritual successor to the famed Corolla AE86 of the 1980s.

The BRZ’s press release is littered with many figures – 197hp (200PS) and 205Nm of torque generated from a high-revving naturally-aspirated 2-litre boxer engine, 1,250kg spread with a 53:47 front-rear weight distribution, a slippery drag coefficient 0.26Cd, and the lowest CO2 emissions for a 100PS/L naturally aspirated engine at 164g/km.

Delve a little deeper and you would find that Subaru carefully avoids mentioning its 0-100km/h and top speed figures.

Independent tests place those missing figures closer to 6.9 seconds and 230km/h respectively, which is what you could extract from a modern hot hatch.

And from the straight line acceleration test, we could gather that the BRZ would have a tough time dropping the likes of a Volkswagen Golf GTI. If you are one who defines its worth by figures, then you would be sorely disappointed by the BRZ – it isn’t fast.

What it does lack in straight line performance might not be its forte, but it more than makes up for it in sheer driving pleasure and fun.

When we put the BRZ through its paces on a slalom course, it is then when it starts to show where all that years of development and vast resources from Toyota went.

Its near perfect weight distribution means that the BRZ’s turn-in is immediate, whereas the accurate steering allows you to point its nose exactly where you want, and the chassis just pivots around the driver as it glides through each successive bend.

Thanks to Subaru’s boxer engine, the BRZ’s centre of gravity is said to be located just 460mm from the ground, which Subaru claims as the lowest of any current production car.

Doesn’t sound like much but that gives it excellent cornering stability, even though its shock absorbers allow for a bit of body roll, the roll never dictates or detracts the BRZ’s level of grip even if you turn up the speed and tighten your lines.

Even if you exceed its envelope of grip, the BRZ would understeer slightly with the electronic safety net culling as much of the understeer as possible.

Switch off the stability control safety net and you can get the BRZ into ridiculously easy and controllable power slides, though we had to say that its comfort-spec tyres helped in getting the rear out.

Even with the tail slithering out, the BRZ’s limited-slip differential keeps the slide predictable and the car obedient to your corrective inputs.

If anything, our brief time with the BRZ has shown us that it does live up to the spirit of the Corolla AE86, and breaks the performance car mould of speed and excessive power outputs.

In an age where fast performance cars would require you to be going fast in order to extract any fun, the BRZ reminds us that chassis finesse, superb balance and lightweight is the more endearing way of having it.

Specifications of the Subaru BRZ

Engine: 1,998cc 4-cylinder horizontally opposed FA20

Max power: 197hp @ 7,000rpm

Max torque: 205Nm @ 6,400 – 6,600rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Acceleration: 0 – 100km/h: “Less than 7 seconds”

Top speed: 230km/h

Price: S$180,000 in Singapore (expected to be above RM250,000 in Malaysia)

Motor Image has plans to introduce the BRZ in Malaysia in the fourth quarter this year to drum up hype ahead of the Subaru XV crossover launch. The BRZ is expected to sport a price tag in the “Above RM250,000” range, and will be only available in the highest specification (S in Japan).

Read about Motor Image’s plans for Malaysia here.

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