Subaru BRZ 2.0i SE Lux

PRETTY much everyone wants a sports car at some point in their lives but unfortunately for most people they remain a dream.

Ultimately those sought-after marques at the upper end of the market are unaffordable for the majority, unless you're buying one with a fair few miles on the clock.

While car makers don't seem to embrace the concept of affordable sports cars in the way they once did, there are some tempting options out there and the Subaru BRZ is undoubtedly one of them.

Sleek GT-inspired lines, the fact it sits close to the ground, figure hugging sports seats and a relatively small but surprisingly punchy 2.0-litre Boxer petrol engine mean the BRZ offers a lot of fun and a fair measure of style in an impressively affordable package.

Given what's on offer, a price tag of just £26,495 seems a steal and in many ways it is. Not only that but the BRZ will cost you around the same as it did four years ago.

The BRZ was delivered in a joint project with Toyota and is to all intents and purposes identical to the GT86.

Ir reality both cars are essentially Subarus through and through and though some versions of the Toyota are cheaper, the simple one specification option that now applies for the BRZ (you can choose between manual and automatic) means given the equipment that comes as standard it offers better value overall.

The BRZ has been given a refresh for 2017, which is modest rather than major. In fairness it's one of those cars that pretty much got everything right first time round so not much needs changing.

On the outside there's a new front bumper and grille which give the BRZ a wider stance.

There are new LED headlights and the rear lamps have been revised.

Other changes include 10-spoke alloy wheels and a larger rear spoiler.

Under the bonnet, the Boxer engines, which is a horizontally opposed unit of four cylinders, front mounted and driving the rear wheels, has been updated to increase responsiveness and reduce emissions.

In addition new dampers enhance handling and improve ride quality.

The engine has a sweeter note than before and feels sharper overall. To get the most out of it you'll need to work it hard - though in truth that's half the fun of something like the BRZ.

Driving it is a joy with all the right ingredients there to make for a car that is genuinely fun to drive without being too over the top. It goes round corners at speed with precision and ease and all the while you feel as though you're glued to those figure-hugging sports seats.

Performance-wise the BRZ is no Porsche, though given its handling prowess and the fact you are so close to the ground it feels like a real sports car and working that Boxer engine really does deliver thrills a-plenty. It also boasts a top speed of 140mph and a hardly sluggish 0-62mph time of just over seven-and-a-half seconds.

Other changes for 2017 include a more salubrious and modern cabin. You get red stitching and BRZ logos on the fronts seats which add a classy touch.

Subaru instrumentation and switchgear have traditionally tended towards the lacklustre but again efforts have been made to up the ante in the BRZ.

The biggest change is the addition of a 4.2-inch colour LCD multi-information display.

It even has features such as a G force meter, steering angle gauge, brakeforce gauge, lap timer and torque/power curves.

This year's changes also saw an already compact BRZ range streamlined to offer just the SE Lux model, the SE has been dropped.

Perhaps the only drawback with the BRZ is it isn't immensely practical. A 2+2, those rear seats are only really suitable for children. I did contemplate the prospect of fitting three adults in the car. In the end I didn't need to and felt rather relieved.

FAST FACTS

Subaru BRZ 2.0i SE Lux

Price:£26,495

Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 140mph

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 36.2

Insurance Group: 31

C02 emissions: 180g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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