Road test: Subaru BRZ S adds some extra shizzle
THIS week was about me. Doesn't happen often these days so I was quick to luxuriate in it. Usually I am happy to pick up a an SUV or large sedan - after all a growing Little Pet Shop collection which seems to accompany us on every outing demands the latest in space and comfort that the top manufacturers can offer.
But when a stunner like the Subaru BRZ S creeps into the mix you can feel the pulse quickening and the thrill of excitement is difficult to ignore.
It is easy then to turn a deaf ear to the groans from the back seat bemoaning squashed legs and cramped conditions, it is easy to not hear the complaints of not being able to open windows and being too low down to see out - just press that red start button and listen to the engine purr instead.
Have to drive around the school car park for the 333rd time looking for a spot - happy to. Have to put up with P-platers craning their necks out of cars at the traffic lights - glad to oblige. Have to take the scenic route home to put the BRZ S through its paces around tight traffic circles and impossible corners - here to serve.
Yep, this week was about me and I loved it.
Okay, so obviously room is at a premium so don't expect to stretch out and settle in. While most consideration has been given to the driver with even long legs fitting nicely in the forward space under the dash, your seat still has to sit far back on the rails to ensure comfort making the back seat a squashy prospect even for little feet. The boot is not really going to hold anything of much consequence although you can get away with a small overnight bag or a couple of bags of groceries.
The alcantara seats are well proportioned, stylish and offer adequate enough support to hold you snug during speedy adventures around sharp corners and both the steering wheel and Sports package gearstick feel nicely weighted and firm to the touch.
The cabin appearance is less sporty than you would expect which is a slight disappointment but our biggest gripe is with the poor quality audio system and cheap looking aftersales Bluetooth addition which have no place in a car with this price-tag.
On the road
If you were expecting this S pack-enhanced BRZ to be sporting a turbocharged engine than you would be sadly mistaken. There has been no change to the powerplant performance offered by the original car with the naturally aspirated flat-four boxer engine continuing to do a sterling job.
The BRZ S definitely looks faster than it is and needs some urging from standstill before the throaty roar actually becomes an indication of speed.
Along the straights and at full steam on the highway it is a goer but not especially so and in fact it is not until you are negotiating hairpin bends or tight corners that you will really appreciate the talents of the BRZ S.
It is so beautifully balanced, thrills at being challenged and really kicks out its bottom when pushed hard. This is car that demands to be driven and you will need some skill if you are to get the most out of it.
What do you get?
Apart from the lowered suspension, 17-inch black STI alloys and external additions likes underside spoilers and one for the bootlid, the BRZ S does not really better the inclusions list offered by the first edition. It is fairly well equipped with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, Bi-Xenon headlights and multi-function display.
If you want sat-nav, parking sensors or reverse camera you will have to pay more. Safety features include anti-lock brakes, EBD and brake assist, stability and traction control as well as dual front, side and curtain airbags with knee protection for the driver.
So the BRZ S is no family wagon. This is a car with fun on the top of its list and it is the driver's driver it will attract.
Still though it could do with sensors and reverse camera as standard especially in a car approaching the $50,000 mark. The lower front spoiler makes it even harder to negotiate high driveway lips and speed bumps.
There are a few good contenders in the market to satisfy your desire for something sporty. Aside from the BRZ's twin the Toyota 86 GTS (from $35,490) there is also the Peugeot RCZ (from $58,990), Mazda MX-5 (from $49,890), Renault Megane RS265 (from $51,640) and the Hyundai Veloster (from $31,990).
Official figures stand at 7.8 litres per 100km and although we used more than a litre more on average our main aim was performance not economy. Subaru offers a three years unlimited kilometres warranty, free 12 months roadside assist and free scheduled servicing for three years or 60,000km.
The BRZ S with its modern add-on package is all about looks.
The car sits lower, the 17-inch black alloys are branded and the body kit which consists of a black boot spoiler (in black), side skirts, front spoiler and rear diffuser reinforces an overall feeling of sportiness.
What matters most
What we liked: Balanced ride, sporty looks, throaty roar.
What we'd like to see: Reverse camera and sensors as standard, perhaps a turbo engine.
Warranty and servicing: Subaru offers a three-year/unlimited kilometres warranty with 12 months roadside assist and a three years/60,000km free scheduled servicing.
Model: Subaru BRZ S.
Details: Two-door rear-wheel drive coupe
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Engine: 2.0-litre, boxer four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 147kW @ 7000rpm and peak torque of 205Nm @ 6600rpm.
Consumption: 7.8 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 7.1L/100km (auto).
CO2: 164g/km (m), 181g/km (a).
Bottom line: From $45,145 for manual and $46,925 for the auto.