Subaru BRZ: The anniversary is over

Riley Riley

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What is it?

We always find it odd driving and writing about a car that is already sold out.

In this case just 150 examples of the Subaru BRZ 10th Anniversary Edition were offered and Subaru has confirmed all 150 of them were snapped up in just over a week.

Of course you can still buy a BRZ, but it won’t come with the special blue paint job, nor will it have the special trim and decals that mark the 10th anniversary of the BRZ’s arrival here in 2012.

Toyota did something similar with the GR86, but in its case, just 86 cars were offered and they too have gone.

That’s right, it has been an entire decade since the launch of the ground-breaking coupe.

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What’s it cost?

The look is at once familiar but somehow different, instantly recognisable for what it is.

It’s finished in WR Blue, with black 18-inch alloys and crystal black door mirrors.

There’s a black BRZ badge, but no 10th anniversary badging on the boot lid. You get a cheap sticker fixed to the rear window instead.

Inside, there’s a numbered badge and commemorative 10th Anniversary logo embroidered on the inside of the doors.

Our test vehicle was #10 of 150 and will presumably be offered for sale as a demonstrator at some stage.

Blue stripes mark the artificial suede and leather trimmed seats, with contrast stitching for the seats, armrests, steering wheel, shifter and handbrake.

The aircon controls and centre console buttons are also finished in black.

BRZ 10th Anniversary Edition is priced from $43,090 for the manual, or $46,890 for the automatic version of the car.

Yes. The price has crept up over the years, but the BRZ still represents excellent value for money for those who take their driving seriously.

No changes have been made under the bonnet for the anniversary edition and there’s still no turbo to hurry things along.

A larger 2.4-litre flat four produces 174kW of power and 250Nm of torque, with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Based on the S version standard equipment includes smart key access with push button start, LED headlights with automatic height adjustment, vehicle dynamics control, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control air conditioning, active sound control to enhance engine sound inside the cabin for a more engaging driving experience.

Driver and front passenger seats are also heated.

A new 7.0-inch, customisable digital instrument cluster sees the all-important tacho take centre stage, along with a digital speedo, reminder of the gear you’re in and the current speed limit.

It’s all you need really, with smaller info screens either side — but for some reason the right screen had a brownish tinge.

A larger 8.0-inch central touchscreen boasts Bluetooth, voice control, satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, six-speaker audio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity — and two USB sockets.

Inputting a destination is more difficult than it should be because of the screen size, the size of the letters and sensitivity of the screen.

Safety remains something of an issue. The car hasn’t been tested by ANCAP yet and would probably not achieve five stars, at least the manual version that we’re driving wouldn’t — not this time around.

While it has seven airbags, a reverse camera, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor, automatic emergency braking is absent and so is lane keep assist — all of which you get with the auto.

BRZ is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 12-month roadside assistance, with service capped for 5 years/75,000km. 

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What’s it go like?

The 10th anniversary edition looks the business, finished in striking world rally blue with black mirrors and wheels, along with an integrated rear spoiler and dual pipes emerging from under the rear.

The manual gets 22kW more power and 38Nm more torque, while the auto fares a little better, with another 27kW and 45Nm. 

The extra power makes little difference, but the additional torque is welcome, especially as peak torque kicks in 2700 revs lower in the range.

Both transmissions get power to the ground through a Torsen limited-slip rear diff.

The dash from 0-100km/h in the manual takes less than 7.0 seconds.

With a 50-litre tank, fuel consumption for the manual is a claimed 9.5L/100km (auto 8.8L/100km). We were getting 8.8L — oh, and it takes 98 unleaded.

Automatic variants see the addition of Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight Driver Assist package for the first time.

The body has 60 per cent more front lateral bending rigidity and 50 per cent more torsional stiffness than its predecessor.

Aluminium materials have been used extensively for the bonnet, front guards and the roof, helping to keep weight down despite additional equipment.

The impressive ride and handling are underpinned by power-assisted rack and pinion steering, independent MacPherson front struts and double rear wishbone suspension, with 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.

The brakes are unchanged but have been recalibrated.

Personally, we’ve always preferred the Subaru version of the sports coupe.

They churn out one BRZ to four 86s, or at least they used to, and as such the BRZ is likely to be the more collectable of the two.

And, trust us, it will become collectable, just like British sports cars of old like the MG roadster.

Stepping into this car straight out of a high performance Audi, the differences are immediately noticeable — less power of course (a lot less) and more cabin noise (a lot more).

We didn’t miss the power which goes hand in hand with the size and weight of the car, or power to weight ratio as it is known, but the din inside the cabin was another thing altogether.

It is unfortunately a reflection of the pure driving experience (and the Michelins), which puts the driver close to the road and close to the magic that makes it all happen– you’re at one with the car if you like.

Our test vehicle was the six-speed manual version.

Once you master the clutch and get a feel for the gear change, BRZ is a snack to drive — and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d never buy a Golf GTI with DSG either. Sure, it may be quicker, but the drive experience is nowhere near as engaging.

Being a manual, however, you miss out on the EyeSight safety items and that means no adaptive cruise control, no auto braking and no lane-keep assist or lane departure warning. 

Ah, well . . . One day, when everything is fully automated, take comfort in the fact that manual versions like the one your grand dad used to drive will be highly-prized.

BRZ is not the easiest car to get in and out of either, but it doesn’t require the gymnastics that a Toyota Supra does.

The seats are a bit narrow too and better suited to fit young people rather than fat-bottomed oldies.

The indicators are annoying as well because it is too easy to fully activate them rather than get three quick flashes.

It wasn’t too long ago that it didn’t have one-touch blinkers.

Whipping the BRZ into a right hander, we felt the rear start to step out before it was caught by the electronics, and right then we knew we were in for some fun.

The larger engine and small increases in power and torque that it brings have made a remarkable difference to the way the car performs, even though it was okay to start with.

The extra torque has plugged that hole you sometimes fell into without enough speed and revs on the dial.

With no turbo to boost bottom end response, BRZ loves and needs to rev and does so all the way up to 8000 rpm.

Having said that, we were surprised how tractable the car remains in top gear as we slogged up a steepish hill.

Sitting low to the ground you feel like you’re going fast even when you’re not, and with a short wheelbase, low centre of gravity and some sticky rubber, it’s capable of taking corners at speed.

The chassis is communicative, leaving the driver in no doubt as to where the car is and what it is doing on the road.

Steering likewise is sharp and direct and it sometimes feels as though the car starts to turn into corners before the driver has initiated the process.

Good stoppers are an essential when it comes to hard, corner to corner driving, allowing braking deep into bends.

Get everything right and it feels great.

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What we like?

  • Purity
  • The colour
  • It’s a manual
  • Predictable dynamics

What we don’t like?

  • Small boot
  • Noisy inside
  • Feels downmarket
  • Back seat for show only

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The bottom line?

BRZ remains fun and affordable.

In years to come this car will be sought out by collectors.

In the meantime, you have the opportunity to enjoy old school driving wrapped in a modern envelope, with electronics to back you up just in case. 

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Subaru BRZ 10th Anniversary Edition, priced from $43,090
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 5/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 8/10

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