brz
brz

Subaru BRZ: Auto or manual?

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What is it?

At a time when gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs are dominating sales in Australia, it’s great to see that Subaru has introduced the next generation of its neat little BRZ coupe.

And it’s a proper sports machine, in that it’s driven by the rear wheels — not the front.

More about that in a moment.

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What’s it cost?

The original design was very successful, so Subaru has been smart in sticking to a similar shape.

But it’s not just about looks, the new model not only looks great but is also more aerodynamic.

All the vents, fins, and spoilers are functional, working to reduce turbulence.

Subaru BRZ has an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and built-in satnav.

The speakers provide good quality sound during normal driving, but can be drowned out on rough roads and concrete motorways.

The Subaru stereo camera-based EyeSight safety system is now part of the BRZ equipment list.

Active safety functions include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and reverse emergency braking.

The BRZ has no fewer than seven airbags — front, side, and head, plus a driver’s knee bag.

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What’s it go like?

The Subaru flat-four boxer engine is a larger 2.4-litre unit, up by 20 percent in capacity over the previous 2.0-litre model.

The result is 174kW of power and up to 250Nm of torque.

Transmissions are a six-speed torque converter automatic or six-speed manual.

Both have been revised from their predecessors, not only to handle the extra power and torque — but also to provide smoother shifts.

Unusually, we were given two cars to test back-to-back — manual and automatic.

Drive is to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential.

This is the only Subaru that doesn’t have all-wheel-drive, which is a major selling point of the company.

Seems like Toyota had the most powerful argument about this.

Official fuel consumption is 9.5L/100km for the manual and 8.8L/100km for the automatic.

We averaged 10.0L/100km in the manual and 9.3L/100km in the auto.

It needs to run on premium 98 RON unleaded which is often costs 15 to 20 cents more per litre in our home areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast – it’s a major rip-off.

Unusually these days BRZ has a full-size spare wheel.

It’s pretty handy if you’re considering track days and need to carry extra spares.

Cabin storage is rather limited, again because this is quite a small coupe.

There’s only a single drink holder in the manual due to tight space in the console which is taken up by the gear lever.

Automatic models have two centre console drink holders.

There are small bottle holders in each door.

A split-folding centre console box houses a 12V outlet, while USB ports are located under the climate functions.

The boot volume is just 201 litres as measured by Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) standards.

This standard is generally regarded as more accurate than the SAE measurements used by most car makers.

The two rear seats are all but useless for adults, but it’s hardly a complaint considering this is a small sports coupe.

Kids can travel in them but if you’re planning to do so frequently, make sure to take them along on your test drive before deciding to buy a BRZ.

I’m tall in the body and found the headroom to be less than I prefer, but I didn’t have the driver’s seat set as close to the floor as I normally would.

If you’re considering buying a BRZ to drive on track days, the problem could be exacerbated by a crash helmet.

As I’ve said before, try before you buy and don’t forget the skid lid.

The sales guys at the dealership may find it odd when you turn up for a test drive, or perhaps see it as a compliment to their car.

The front bucket seats provide comfort for normal, day-to-day use and have good lateral support for hard driving.

Even driving the BRZ on sealed country road it feels nice and solid.

One bumpy dirt roads it’s perhaps stiffer than passengers would like.

The driver has the steering wheel to help support them which makes it better.

We didn’t drive on the dirt as the BRZ isn’t likely to be sold to anyone who lives in that sort of country.

The larger engine has consistent torque through the rev range and this helps to provide a notable jump in responsiveness.

The engine’s smooth and quiet at in normal driving speeds.

It’s only when you get up to higher revs that it has the definite beat of a boxer engine.

Owners love that.

Tyre noise is low on smooth roads but can become quite noisy when roads are moderately rough.

You certainly feel the sounds rise, but it’s acceptable for a sporty car.

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What we like?

  • Looks
  • Handling
  • Extra power
  • More aerodynamic
  • Easy on fuel
  • Still affordable

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What we don’t like?

  • Lack of headroom
  • Lack of crash helmet room
  • My old knees aren’t sports car friendly
  • Takes 98 RON unleaded
  • Only one cup holder in manual

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The bottom line?

Subaru BRZ is something out of the ordinary these days – which is good to see in these times of gas guzzling pickups and SUVs.

It has excellent handling and plenty of poke from the engine, particularly with a manual gearbox sitting behind it.

Manual or automatic transmission, which would I prefer?

Simple; automatic for city and suburban running, manual for a nice fang in the bush.

Would I buy on? Probably not, but only because my ageing knees don’t like getting in and out of this low-slung sports machine.

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CHECKOUT: Subaru Forester: Older and some may say wiser

CHECKOUT: Rare treat: Subaru SVX coupe

Subaru BRZ, priced from $38,990
  • Looks - 9/10
    9/10
  • Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
    9/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
    8/10
  • Practicality - 6/10
    6/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
    7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10
Overall
7.9/10
7.9/10

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