|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
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|
2013 Subaru BRZ
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Car|
|Body Type||2-door Sports Car|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Flat 4|
|BHP @ rpm||200 @ 7,000|
|Nm @ rpm||205 @ 6,400-6,600|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Unleaded / 98~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|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|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||No|