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February 11, 2014

Review: 2014 Subaru BRZ M/T

Photos by Ulysses Ang
I always respect car manufacturers that come up with products that do exactly what they are engineered to do. With a name that means “Boxer Rear-wheel drive Zenith”, the Subaru BRZ may not have the catchiest nameplate out there, but as the pinnacle (or zenith) of sports cars is concerned, it delivers, and delivers beautifully. Above everything else in the market now, no other car delivers the same thrill, the same sense of connectedness, the same unadulterated driving experience as this sports car.

In the past few years, I’ve driven my fair share of Toyobaru siblings, the 86 in both base MT and Aero AT trims as well as the BRZ in AT guise, but it never, ever gets tiring. Each time you snug into the low-slung cockpit, you can’t help but crack a smile at how this car manages to get almost everything right (the exception being the god-awful radio). No other car looks designed solely with pure handling in mind. Mind you, the list of luxury features isn’t long, but it comes with everything to expedite driving.

With a keyless entry with push button start/stop, there’s no need to fumble around for keys. Simply tug the handle, hop in, and push the large “Engine Start” button and you’re on your way to driving thrills. The seats are the most supportive you’ll see in a mainstream production car. Yes, they’re designed for smaller body frames (thank the aggressive side bolsters for that), but the ideal driving position is achieved in less than 15 seconds of fiddling with the various levers of the 6-way adjustable seat. After that, everything else follows from the perfectly positioned shifter and pedals, the simple yet nice-to-grip steering wheel to the highly-legible gauges to the brilliant all-around visibility. In short, no other car comes close to matching the Subaru BRZ’s man-machine interface.

The directness of the Subaru BRZ’s design is also found in its running gear. There’s no turbocharger, no dual clutch transmission, no fancy four-wheel drive system; only a high-revving normally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to a 6-speed manual driving the rear wheels. With just 200 horsepower and 205 Nm of torque, the BRZ may seem underpowered, but considering the bantam 1,253-kilogram curb weight, it’s just right. It won’t win any drag race and it’s not designed to do so; but show it a proper race track or a curvaceous canyon road, and the BRZ can keep up with the best of them.

Credit the extraordinarily low center of gravity, the directness of the steering, and the responsiveness of the suspension. Interestingly, the BRZ is available in both manual and automatic transmission models for the same P 1,928,000 price tag, and while the 6-speed automatic is best for everyday driving, nothing can beat the directness of the 6-speed manual. The shifter feels very manly with heavy but precise notching between gears, while the clutch needs some good left foot effort, but remains modulated. It’s not tiring to do the three-pedal dance, even when you’re stuck in a two-hour commute, but this set-up’s more rewarding on weekend fun runs. For highway warriors, the BRZ is equipped with cruise control as well.

In terms of the BRZ’s looks, everything’s already been said. To reiterate, it’s slightly different than its Toyota 86 twin thanks to Subaru’s unique front-end treatment. It looks plain and straight-forward, but that’s why there’s a wealth of aftermarket body kits and rims to dress up and personalize the BRZ to your liking. And though some people prefer the 86, I personal adore the BRZ, especially how it ties in nicely with the rest of the Subaru line-up. It looks mighty good in the trademark WR Blue Mica too. The subtle rear spoiler with its boomerang shape also comes as a no-cost option, further setting the BRZ apart the sea of 86.

After spending close to a week with the Subaru BRZ, it’s easy to conclude that it’s a surprisingly capable and confident everyday driver. With the exception of its low height (which causes taller traffic such as trucks and buses to run precariously into your lane), there’s little else to complain with the BRZ’s livability. The firm ride’s a given, but it’s no different from, say, a WRX STI. It has no difficulty tackling driveways, humps, and what have you. In its stock height, the BRZ enjoys 129 mm of ground clearance—higher than most sports cars in its class. And thanks to its short overhangs, there’s little need to maneuver sideways through inclined road surfaces. However, it’s worth nothing that you’ll still need to exercise care with bump stops as the previous borrower of this particular BRZ demo unit realized the hard way. The manual dictates a 98-octane unleaded diet but Subaru distributor, Motor Image Pilipinas, says the BRZ performs just as well, if not more consistently, on local 95-octane fuel. And it sips the premium stuff at no less than 9.35 km/L in city traffic—a commendable figure given this is a sports car, after all.

Priced at P 1,928,000, the Subaru BRZ commands a premium over its Toyota twin. The caveat though is that the moment you try falling in line for an 86, expect to end up with a bill north of P 2-million thanks to Toyota dealers’ “strong urge” to kit up your 86 and take in in-house financing with a low downpayment even if you just wanted to get a Plain Jane 86 in cash. With Subaru, the BRZ is priced exactly as advertised whether you want it in manual or automatic, Satin White Pearl, WR Blue Mica, or Lighting Red. What’s more, Motor Image Pilipinas is joining the aftermarket bandwagon, offering the STI front chin spoiler and side skirts as part of the BRZ’s accessories catalogue. Though, I’d still prefer my BRZ only with a spoiler and in WR Blue Mica, exactly like the demo unit, it’s good to hear they’re doing their best to move more of this sports car. I’m still trying to convince the wife (and the dog) that I want one, but for the singles or the married without children out there, there’s absolutely no excuse why you shouldn’t consider the Subaru BRZ.

2014 Subaru BRZ
Ownership 2.0 M/T
Year Introduced 2012
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 F4
BHP @ rpm 200 @ 7,000
Nm @ rpm 205 @ 6,400-6,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Unleaded / 95~
Transmission 6 MT
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 Leather/Alcantara
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
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. What happened with the speed bump? Damaged undercarriage?

  2. Sorry but this car is not my type. Its to weak for my liking. Its suited more for "older" drivers that wants to have fun. Actually, I'm not sure locally, but in the west facts will show that a huge chunk of buyers of the 86 and brz are around 50 of age! :)

    1. Its slow when compared with other "sports cars" but most of the time I'm sure it will be driven in traffic and highways filled with slow ass SUVs. Plus its also fuel efficient.

  3. Would you mind upping the resolution of the car photos for car reviews? And also adding a bit more photos? Great, intuitive car site BTW.\\

    1. By having around 20 photos, that's actually a lot. As for the size...each photo has been upgraded already to 1024 x 683. Older posts only had 800 x 533. Depending on loading times, I may consider larger photos in the future :-)

  4. Never get tired of reading your articles. Great article mate how I wish I can afford one haha. Someday maybe, sa ngayon kayod lang haha.


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