Gentle upgrade for

rarest Subaru

Subaru BRZ, front action
Subaru BRZ, front action 2
Subaru BRZ, rear action 2
Subaru BRZ, rear action
Subaru BRZ, rear full static
Subaru BRZ, front seats
Subaru BRZ, gear lever
Subaru BRZ, dash detail
Subaru BRZ, dashboard
Subaru BRZ, rear seats
Subaru BRZ, engine

WHEN did you last see a Subaru BRZ? If the answer is 'never have' you are not alone.

This is a very rare car on British roads. The question is; does it deserve to do better?

A thorough but subtle revamp of this sporty 2+2 aims to keep the car on the radar of anyone looking for something different and entertaining at the same time.

When it arrived in 2012 the BRZ (and a Subaru-built Toyota version called GT 86) was aimed at drivers who put driving pleasure above luxury.

With deliberately smaller wheels and tyres, for instance, it encouraged you to let your inner racer enjoy wet road corners at sensible speeds.

The interior took a no frills approach to the business of going quite quickly with a grin on your face as you appreciated the purer driving pleasures of something that didn't have to use a shopping trolley hatchback as starter.

For those buyers who really got it, the BRZ was pretty nigh perfect - and go hang the low rent feel to fixtures and fittings. Enjoy instead the way the gears snick through the gate and the steering wheel reacts to the smallest prompts.

Well, now comes a BRZ with a little more attention to what you see, rather than what you appreciate on the move.

The oily bits remain essentially unchanged except for some detailed fettling of things like camshaft and valve stems (now buffed and polished, for goodness sake) and power remains as before at 197bhp from its 2.0 litre flat-four engine.

That means a top speed of 140mph and 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, with tailpipe emissions of 180g/km. That brings a stinging £800 first year's road tax with the new VED bands from April - up from £230 - and £140 annually thereafter.

Little altered too is the suspension, save for modest changes to springs and dampers aimed at reducing body roll, cutting vibration and improving the ride. If that implies the engineers got this bit right from the start, you'd be correct.

Fuel consumption is 36.2mpg in the official test and the BRZ became one of a rare breed by showing a better figure (37.0mpg) after the test drive.

The BRZ is outgunned by a host of hot hatches in a straight line and its engine needs to be revved hard to produce something approaching a sporty response, when Subaru's engineers hope you will switch off the radio and enjoy the noise from under the bonnet.

But no hot hatch can completely cast aside its high build and tall engine when a corner arrives. The BRZ was built low to start with and its flat-four engine keeps weight closer to the road, helping make this a car to enjoy on twisty routes.

The latest revisions inside the cockpit will help when you take your eyes off the road ahead. There's more leather and mock suede to help lift the ambiance, along with a new 4.2 inch touchscreen multi-information display which will tell you your steering angle, brake force, lap time (!) and power curves. Should you want to know.

This latest BRZ now comes in just a single well equipped version, priced at £26,050. That makes it usefully cheaper the equivalent Toyota GT 86 and it lacks for little, with standard spec taking in heated front seats and a smaller steering wheel than before, with audio controls included.

Bluetooth is not fitted as standard and is only available with the optional satellite navigation system at an eye watering £1,500 extra.

Outside, modest changes front and rear are aimed at making the latest BRZ look wider than before and it becomes the first Subaru with full LED headlights. New alloy wheels complete the makeover.

There are a couple of seats in the back but they're so close to the ones up front there's nowhere for passengers' legs to go. The boot is big enough for two, and the back seat folds for extra luggage capacity.

But you won't be considering a BRZ for its boot size. It remains one of the most direct ways to connect a keen driver to an interesting road this side of a stripped out semi-racer.

And you'll still go a long way before you see another.


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