Subaru BRZ 2.0 SE

Lux Auto

Subaru BRZ, front
Subaru BRZ, 2017, front, action
Subaru BRZ, 2017, side, action
Subaru BRZ, 2017, rear, action
Subaru BRZ, dashboard
Subaru BRZ, rear seats

MAKING affordable sports cars for the common man used to be an automotive industry mainstay and British car makers were pretty good at it.

Think back to the glory days of MG and Triumph and the wonderful array of roadsters and coupes that were once available.

Unfortunately these days there isn't much money to be made in this once popular niche, as evidenced by the lack of interest from the reborn MG Motors in delivering a roadster, as many might have expected.

Put simply there aren't many affordable sports cars at all now, with perhaps the Japanese doing the best job of flying the flag.

The iconic Mazda MX-5 is a stalwart and a great survivor and the likes of Honda and Toyota have also kept their hand in.

Subaru's BRZ is another example. In essence it's a classy, sleek and stylish 2+2 coupe that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Toyota GT86.

The reason is that the BRZ and GT86 are effectively the same car. It was the fruit of a joint development project between the two car makers (Toyota has a substantial stake in Subaru) but in reality it was a Subaru project.

It's pitched as a rival for the Porsche Cayman, which might be stretching it somewhat.

True, the BRZ looks like it means business and its sultry GT design lines are very easy on the eye.

The Cayman is in reality much more of a genuine sports car, packing a considerably bigger punch (the 2.0-litre Cayman delivers an extra 100ps) but it's also significantly more expensive at around £43,000.

The BRZ starts at not much more than £26,000 and interestingly prices have remained pretty static for a number of years now.

It is also incredibly light (around 150kg lighter than a Cayman) and in addition has a lower centre of gravity.

Both these elements really do enhance both its feel and agility and maximise the fun factor.

So, while the BRZ's 2.0-litre Boxer engine is modest in horsepower terms in the real world it feels rather lively.

There's a very simple choice as far as the BRZ is concerned - one model, the SE Lux - available either as a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

If you want to maximise performance then go for the manual, which at £26,495 is also cheaper than the automatic, which will set you back £27,995.

With a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 140mph it's sprightly enough.

The automatic is a little more sedate, taking 8.2 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint and it will take you on to a top speed of 130mph.

This time around I tried the automatic and though on paper there's a marked difference in performance terms, it felt far from sluggish and I appreciated the ease of not having to change gear frequently, particularly in an urban setting.

The automatic also offers better fuel economy, lower emissions and sits in a lower BiK bracket.

Not a great deal has changed on the BRZ since its initial launch, though a refresh for 2017 saw a new front bumper and a new grille giving it a wider stance.

Other changes included new LED headlights, revised rear lamps, 10-spoke alloy wheels and a larger rear spoiler.

The engine was also updated to increase responsiveness and reduce emissions and new dampers were introduced to enhance handling and improve ride quality.

The BRZ looks the part and is genuinely fun to drive, with a real go-kart feel as a result of being so close to the ground.

Given it has been developed by Subaru it was been superbly engineered to deliver engaging driving dynamics.

It's hard to avoid going into a corner without putting your foot down and experiencing the thrill as the figure-hugging sports seats hold you firmly in place while you feel the pull of gravity. The revised instrumentation panel even has a G force meter.

FAST FACTS

Subaru BRZ 2.0 SE Lux Auto

Price: £27,995

Mechanical: 200ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 8.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 39.8

Insurance Group: 31

C02 emissions: 164g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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