Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ A/T

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Blame EDSA traffic, but driving a sports car isn’t a fun aspect anymore. The thought of having to squeeze a low-slung car in-between two buses is enough to send chills down your spine. And then, you have to consider the limited visibility, the discomfort of the firm ride, and the claustrophobic feel of the tight interior. Thankfully, not all sports cars are built and engineered the same way; there’s one that’s specifically designed to be driven every day, one that doesn’t compromise on practicality or comfort but feels like a shot of adrenaline every time you get behind the driver’s seat. This is the Subaru BRZ—the perfect antidote to the humdrum of everyday driving.

Before talking more about this sports car, it’s good to talk first about the proverbial elephant in the room: yes, the Subaru BRZ is a twin of the Toyota 86. Built as a corporate partnership between the two brands, Toyota took the lead with the design and overall packaging while Subaru dealt with the engineering and drivetrain. In short, if neither manufacturer entered into the partnership, this car wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Moving on, Subaru has still managed to implement changes to differentiate and actually make it better than its Toyota sibling.



Though the BRZ shares the same low-slung shape and long hood, short rear deck proportions as the Toyota 86, Subaru designers have imparted several design cues that actually make the BRZ look sportier and better tied in with the rest of the Subaru line-up. First, the headlamp cluster is more angular and features Subaru’s new trademark “hawk eye” LED park lights. They also integrate the turn signal indicators as well. Second, the front grille on the BRZ is also wider and larger with a more prominent hexagonal shape reminiscent of Subaru’s turbocharged performance cars. It also manages to integrate the plate holder better, achieving a cleaner look than the Toyota 86. Third, the front fog lamps are more recessed; tucked in at an angle that creates a classier wedge-shaped front end. Over at the sides, the faux fender vents look well-proportioned to the rest of the car compared to the one that houses the 86 logo on the Toyota. Lastly, the BRZ’s standard rear deck spoiler balances the sportiness and maturity equation very well, and some people have actually said it creates a Porsche-like vibe to the rear-end. Nice compliment indeed.

Like its exterior, the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86 share the same interior meaning it requires some good wiggling to get in and out of. Still, it’s surprisingly comfortable and roomy, if only for two. The BRZ’s interior is laid out in a very straight-forward manner with all the instruments, controls, and switches within easy reach. The build quality is top-notch with well-wearing plastics and leather dotting the entire cabin. There are some minor styling changes done to the BRZ’s cockpit which can easily pass unnoticed. First up, the gauges on the BRZ are more direct to the point: don’t expect any stylized fonts, carbon fiber background print, or black-on-white numerals for the tachometer. Instead, what you get are white-on-black numerals that glow red with matching red needles. This makes the gauges much more legible and easier to understand. The seats too have been leveled up by using Alcantara/leather with red stitching. This red stitching is duplicated on the steering wheel, shifter, shift boot, and parking brake. Not as welcoming a change is the center panel that switches carbon fiber for a silver aluminum trim that’s not only more scratch prone but doesn’t match the rest of the control bezels which have retained their carbon fiber finish. The BRZ also loses the 86’s unique frameless rear view mirror as well.



Despite the loss of the frameless rear view mirror (which does wonders to rear visibility), the BRZ still has one of the best all-around visibility compared to any sports car around. Normally, sports cars have tremendously bad blind spots, but the BRZ offers a clear view of the road from every angle. The bulging fenders upfront are pretty handy when trying to slot it through tighter spaces such as parking or in-between two buses on EDSA.

Now comes the interesting part: the performance. Despite sharing the same engine and drivetrain as the Toyota 86, the Subaru BRZ comes with its own unique tune that brings a different, more habitable character especially on Philippine roads. Though they share the same 2.0-liter direct-injected Boxer engine as the 86, Subaru engineers have kept the better sounding exhaust for themselves. Push the start button, and your ears are met by this deep and joyous rumbling. Keep the right foot planted and this hair-prickling growl goes all the way to its 7,400-rpm redline. This differentiated exhaust tuning probably didn’t do anything to improve the BRZ’s straight-line acceleration figures (0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds), but it does make the Subaru feel faster which matters a lot when you’re stuck puttering on EDSA 99 percent of the time.



In terms of handing, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 behave quite similarly when driven up to a certain point. After that, the Subaru’s unique suspension tune makes itself known: it’s noticeably less tail happy and therefore more forgiving to drive. Knowing quite well that its loyal customer base would be accustomed to its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive set-up, Subaru made the front suspension firmer and the rear suspension softer resulting in the BRZ’s slight tendency to understeer. In turn, this means the BRZ behaves in a far more neutral manner when driven with anger around everyday streets, not having to worry that the tail will snap out when pushed too hard. In addition, this suspension set-up results in a sharper, more positive steering wheel. Compared to the 86, the BRZ turns quicker into a corner and will simply bite into the road the harder you push. In other words, the BRZ feels much more confident to drive every day, especially for those whose driving ability isn’t as honed as a race driver’s.

Some purists shy away from driving a sports car with an automatic transmission, but given the Subaru BRZ’s 6-speed automatic (which is shared with the Toyota 86 and in turn, related to the Lexus IS F’s), you wouldn’t want anything else. Though the two-pedal set-up means you’re slower to 100 km/h by 0.6 seconds, it’s perfectly adaptable for everyday driving. It’s highly responsive, adaptable yet smooth. It’s simply God-sent given Metro Manila’s snarling traffic. The automatic transmission doesn’t seem to faze the BRZ’s fuel economy figures as well registering 8.54 km/L in city driving (an equivalent Toyota 86 M/T does about 9.62 km/L for example). And when you need to “gunnit”, it will oblige. For example, Subaru BRZ owners who track their cars on the Batangas Racing Circuit say that the difference between the two transmission options is actually negligible.



Sports cars are typically reserved for that special occasion such as weekend fun runs. But why drive it once a week or heaven forbid, once in a blue moon when you can drive it every single day? It’s like eating out of a paper plate and using plastic utensils when you’ve got the finest china stored in your cupboard gathering dust. The Subaru BRZ makes every day driving such an exciting experience and it doesn’t come with any of the usual negatives commonly associated with driving a sports car. It’s predictable, comfortable, roomy (for two), and has useable luggage space. It’s also got surprisingly good ground clearance as well. For all intents and purposes, it’s a twin of the Toyota 86, but the Subaru BRZ proves itself to be a more sorted package: it’s safer, more predictable at the limit, and considerably more exclusive given its P 1,928,000 price tag. And those differences make it the silver bullet against everyday boredom.



Differences with the Toyota 86:

CATEGORY SUBARU BRZ TOYOTA 86
Exterior
  • Tapered front headlights with "hawk eye-shaped" LED park lights.
  • Angular front bumper with "smiling" hexagonal grille. Larger "blacked out area".
  • Turn signal lights are integrated in the headlamp cluster.
  • Side fender marker is fuller with faux ducting.
  • Rear spoiler is standard equipment on all BRZ models.
  • Arrow-shaped front headlights with "eyebrow-shaped" LED park lights.
  • Sharper looking front bumper with "frowning" hexagonal grille.
  • Turn signal lights are located on the front fog lamp cluster.
  • Side fender marker is smaller and has "86" badge.
  • Rear spoiler is standard only for 86 Aero and TRD models.
Interior
  • Steering wheel has Subaru logo.
  • Gauges have white lettering with plain background. Red lighting when headlights are turned on.
  • Rear view mirror is standard-type.
  • Center panel is silver with other controls finished in carbon fiber trim.
  • Seats are combination of leather and Alcantara.
  • Floor mats are secured with twist lock and has words, "Subaru".
  • Steering has "86" logo.
  • Gauges have more stylized lettering with "carbon fiber" background. White lighting with red needles when headlights are turned on.
  • Rear view mirror is frameless type.
  • Center panel is carbon fiber along with other controls.
  • Seats are combination of cloth and Alcantara (except 86 Aero which uses leather and Alcantara combination).
  • Floor mats are secured with twist lock and has words, "86".
Other Equipment
  • Dual automatic climate control switches to "fresh" at certain conditions (European spec).
  • Subaru BRZ has heated front seats.
  • Dual automatic climate control maintains re-circulate function at all times.
2013 Subaru BRZ
 
Ownership 2.0 AT
Year Introduced 2013
Vehicle Classification Sports Car
The Basics
Body Type 2-door Sports Car
Seating 2+2
Engine / Drive F/R
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration NA
Layout / # of Cylinders Flat 4
BHP @ rpm 200 @ 7,000
Nm @ rpm 205 @ 6,400-6,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Unleaded / 98~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,240
Width (mm) 1,775
Height (mm) 1,425
Wheelbase (mm) 2,570
Curb Weight (kg) 1,253
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Tires 215/45R17
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Alcantara/Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
CD
MP3
Aux
USB
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls No

24 comments:

  1. Great review! even though BRZ is supposed to be the same with 86 it feels much more different. As expected with Subaru. By the way can you review the Kia Optima 2.4 ex? thanks sir!

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  2. Very subjective review with a lot of bias to Subaru.

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    1. Agreed. Uly also just made a positive spin ("tuned for everyday driving") about the fact that the BRZ actually has the softer, less-sporty stock suspension compared to the 86, which contradicts the Subaru fanboys' assertions that the BRZ would have the sportier, "track-happy" handling (read the fanboy posts before the BRZ was released in other local car forums).

      Also, the interior in the 86 looks better with the sportier-looking white on black dials & red-illuminated needles & consistent carbon-fiber surface treatment instead of the boring, unremarkable black-on-black scheme on the BRZ.

      Externally, the 86 also looks better apart from the LED DRL design, which I would grant looks more distinctive on the BRZ. Examples: The side gills aren't ricey fake air vents like on the BRZ but looks elegant with the unique chrome boxer 86 logo. The front grille pattern also looks better with the stylized "T" pattern instead of the generic-looking horizontal slats & wide black bra on the BRZ.

      In short, the BRZ is priced too high for minor differences, some of which aren't even clear advantages. But I have to say the same for the 86 Aero variant, that ricey "sampayan-type" rear spoiler is just uncalled-for. A simpler, ducktail-type trunk spoiler like on the elegant TRD part would have sufficed. Best option is just to get the non-Aero variant and just kit it out with TRD or 3rd-party upgrades.

      - TM from Mot***cars.com Forums.

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  3. I've always wondered if there are differences between this 2 cars. At first, I thought that the only difference was their logos but thanks to this article I was enlightened.

    If I were to choose between the 86 and the BRZ. I would still choose the 86. Toyota packaged it very well and tied it with the ever infamous 86 (old school) but mind you I'm a deep fan of Subaru's impreza.

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    1. Well, that's the beauty. Since both Toyota and Subaru are offering the 86/BRZ twins, customers, in the end, have the choice :-)

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  4. Sir Ulysses, so all-in-all, which is a better buy? Which is more worth it? 86 or BRZ?

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    1. Personally, if I had the money, I'd put it down on the BRZ. Yes, it's more expensive for what's technically the very same car, but I'd gladly cough up a bit more cash for the exclusivity. Plus, I really like the way the suspension's tuned for more usable everyday driving. Undoubtedly, if I had to track the car, I'd choose the 86 but for Manila streets? BRZ. Wish they'd put more standard equipment on it though.

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    2. Uly also just made a positive spin ("tuned for everyday driving") about the fact that the BRZ actually has the softer, less-sporty stock suspension compared to the 86, which contradicts the Subaru fanboys' assertions that the BRZ would have the sportier, "track-happy" handling (read the fanboy posts before the BRZ was released in other local car forums).

      Also, the interior in the 86 looks better with the sportier-looking white on black dials & red-illuminated needles & consistent carbon-fiber surface treatment instead of the boring, unremarkable black-on-black scheme on the BRZ.

      Externally, the 86 also looks better apart from the LED DRL design, which I would grant looks more distinctive on the BRZ. Examples: The side gills aren't ricey fake air vents like on the BRZ but looks elegant with the unique chrome boxer 86 logo. The front grille pattern also looks better with the stylized "T" pattern instead of the generic-looking horizontal slats & wide black bra on the BRZ.

      In short, the BRZ is priced too high for minor differences, some of which aren't even clear advantages. But I have to say the same for the 86 Aero variant, that ricey "sampayan-type" rear spoiler is just uncalled-for. A simpler, ducktail-type trunk spoiler like on the elegant TRD part would have sufficed. Best option is just to get the non-Aero variant and just kit it out with TRD or 3rd-party upgrades.

      - TM from Mot***cars.com Forums.

      Delete
  5. Sir Ulysses, do you know when they will release the Forte 2014 here? I heard that it has 178hp with a 2.0 engine. Will it go above 1.1M?

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  6. One thing predictable about local car reviewers that I have seen from many years of reading their reviews is that they inevitably give glowing reviews to products from 2 manufacturers: Subaru & Mazda. :P

    I can understand (mostly) the glowing reviews for the recent Mazda releases (the combination of beautiful "Kodo" design language & truly-innovative Skyactiv Technology really puts them above the hoi-polloi & downright ugly-looking Hondas & boring Toyotas) are well-deserved, but I still struggle (mostly) to understand the fanboyism for Subaru. Any car manufacturer can attach a turbo & a 4WD drivetrain to any car if they wanted to. Boxer engines aren't special, and their perceived advantages are overstated and their disadvantages conveniently ignored. Their recent designs are either generic-looking or downright ugly (examples: Impreza, XV & Forester). Granted they are not as atrocious as recent Hondas, but they aren't inspired either.

    - TM from Mot***cars.com

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    1. i have to disagree. the impreza might be ugly but the wrx sti 2014 is on the way and it is such a badass looker! as for the xv and forester, i think it is a case to case basis :) i see alot headturns when an xv passes by and people asks what kind of car is it and who makes it. i think because it is unique. as for the forester it looks lika a mini prado lalo na sa front to side. beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. also, yeah anyone can put a turbo and 4wd boxer engine, but why wont they? because subaru is somethin else lol. #justsaying

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    2. Subaru is still japanese. An expensive japanese at that.

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    3. Very simple really. A turbo & a permanent 4WD drivetrain that cannot be switched off if not needed is a fuel guzzler. To get an improvement in FC, Subaru had to use a noisy & non-linear, rubberband-feeling CVT tranny. As for boxer/flat-cylinder arrangement engines, the lowered center of gravity is overstated, same with the balancing of vibrations, and the fact that duplication of the mechanicals on top of the cylinders which are on either side of the engine block are conveniently ignored. In short, it's harder to work on, harder to add components in because the block is wider and takes up more space in the engine bay, the added revolving parts on either side of the cylinder blocks make it more prone to mechanical failure.

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    4. THIS GUY IS A KIA FANBOY.. :P

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    5. @Anony Sept 1, Subaru is Japanese yes, but to say its more expensive than the other brands is false. I have lived here in Osaka for 3 years now and they are just at par with Toyotas and Nissans here in terms of pricing. Forester XT on the other hand is very nice IMO, I'll have that anyday compared to a brz or an 86. They can eat my dust too while at it. Hehe

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  7. basically, its still toyota 86... scion FRS and subaru BRZ...no matter what you say, its still toyota 86...just like hyundai santa fe and kia sorento...

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  8. Been reading reviews about these cars lately and a lot would say that the BRZ is a driver's car. It turns well on curves and you feel in touch with the road. Some car reviews even compared the Subaru BRZ with the Porsche on corners. They say the BRZ is that good. I will have to see this for myself as we just bought a subaru BRZ..

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  9. i want to test this car's power..not that i want to drive it..i want to take it on a 1on1 drag race or on a track..

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    1. You'll be severely disappointed on how the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ performs on the drag strip. With a 0-100 km/h time of around 7 seconds, it's not exactly fast--it can be outrun by even a Honda Accord. The 86/BRZ is about the purity of handling.

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  10. Do they offer a Sat Nav option/LCD display at the center console for this car here in the Philippines? For me a car like this is incomplete without that tech. I think other countries have it as a standard. I know I can use smartphones to do that navigation thingy. But having a basic CD player/Radio audio system on a sports coupe like this with a 2M price tag is ridiculous.

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    1. http://www.carguide.ph/2012/09/motor-image-and-subaru-lays-out.html

      Look at this article about BRZ's October launch last year. The 3rd paragraph says that Mr. Luyun, "admit that it will be priced higher than its sister car, the Toyota 86, but will feature more luxury amenities and a longer list of standard features. It will be sold locally in both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic guise. Reports indicate that the Subaru BRZ will be priced at P 1,928,000 for both manual and automatic variants."

      I mean, REALLY? MORE luxury amenities and LONGER LIST of STANDARD FEATURES? I looked up at ayosdito.ph and found car dealers advertising their BRZs with no LCD displays. And I even checked MotorImage's website and looked up at Subaru BRZ's features, yet it does seem to have a basic 6-speaker audio system ONLY.

      I'm not furious about BRZs not having an extra options, touch screen LCDs and what-not. I'm furious that the market are selling overpriced BASE models here in the Philippines. A base BRZ at $25,000 should be Php1,075,000 only actually. I honestly don't know how the system works in terms of pricing imported products and stuff. But does it really need to be about 90% more or double than the actual price? I don't think so and it saddens me.

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    2. Unfortunately, the BRZ and the 86 share the same exact radio. It's a single CD with USB and aux.

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    3. I wish that would you compare the hyundai veloster and honda cr-z

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    4. I wish that would you compare the hyundai veloster and honda cr-z

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