After driving the Toyota 86, it is now time to explore its sister car — the Subaru BRZ. Both Japanese sports coupes are the results of a joint development effort between Subaru and Toyota. This pair of twins was born to parents Fuji Heavy Industries (owner of Subaru) and Toyota Motor Corporation (who has 17 per cent stake in FHI).
During the development stages, Subaru was in charge of the engineering and the manufacturing, and Toyota headed the product planning and designing. Final production is done at Subaru's plant in Ota-city, Gunma Prefecture. So yes, both the BRZ and 86 are thorough Japanese-bred.
They are largely similar, except for aesthetic variations such as the bumper, grille, side vents, alloy wheel design and cabin trim. For example, the BRZ's front bumper has a hexagonal grille whereas the 86's grille is more of an inverted trapezoid. Mechanically alike, they share the same parts although each has different tuning for the steering and suspension, hence feeling different.
Referring to 'Boxer-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith', the BRZ is only the second RWD car that Subaru ever built. The first one was built in 1954 (the Subaru 1500). Although it is a Boxer engine from Subaru, the naturally aspirated two-litre FA engine represents the partnership between Subaru and Toyota (both their names are etched on the engine cover) with Subaru's horizontally opposed boxer configuration and Toyota's D-4S direct-injection technology.
The flat-four unit musters a maximum of 200bhp at 7,000rpm and 205Nm at 6,400rpm. The peak torque's rev range is pretty short between 6,400 and 6,600rpm only, so low to mid-range speeds were not as perky. Still, I enjoyed the sporty drive, engaging the BRZ in Sports mode for quicker and sharper response, complete with some growling due to Subaru manipulating the airbox for a sporty induction noise. Having been tuned slightly differently from the 86, the BRZ has a stiffer suspension which makes it more weighted, keeping it planted to the ground, hence giving more confidence round the corners.
There are two six-speed transmissions for the BRZ — stick-shifting manual or the torque converter based automatic. The one I drove here was the automatic version, which is stated for a zero-to-100 sprint time of 8.2 seconds, 0.6 seconds more than its manual equivalent. You can switch to manual mode and use the paddle shifts to select your gears manually if you prefer to have more control.
The inside of the BRZ is identical to the 86's, simple and uncomplicated with a blend of Subaru and Toyota features, though I feel there's more Subaru in there than Toyota. There are two seats in the rear but I didn't feel very comfortable sitting in there so most of the time I used it for storage, since the boot is quite tight too. You can fold down the rear seat if you want more boot area though.
It is understood that the demand for the BRZ is very high in the region. That's not surprising as the industry has been waiting for a new sporty performance coupe to be launched to try and bring the aftermarket scene to life again. In Singapore however, being positioned in Category B of the COE premiums (1,601cc and above) puts the BRZ in an unfavourable spot, otherwise it should and could sell like hotcakes.
Subaru BRZ — Technical Specifications
Engine: 1,998cc 4-cylinder BOXER in-line 16-valve DOHC
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max Power: 200bhp at 7,000rpm
Max Torque: 205Nm at 6,400rpm
0-100km/h: 8.2 secs
Top Speed: 210km/h
Price: S$179,800 with COE
Distributor: Motor Image
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.