What's the used Subaru BRZ coupe like?
Motoring journalists have moaned for a while now about the limited number of drivers’ cars available. The sort of car that handles really well, is fun to drive, and doesn’t cost the Earth to buy or run. For too long, they said, there hasn’t been much to choose from. Until, of course, the Subaru BRZ was launched.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine isn’t overly powerful; with a non-licence threatening 197bhp, and fuel economy can be quite good, if you refrain from thrashing it. When you do, you’ll need to rev the engine out to get to peak power. It’s quite fun to do so at first, but you soon realise that it isn’t quite as fast as it sounds. It doesn’t have that much torque at low engine revs, which means you have to change down more often than you would in some of the BRZs rivals, many of which have turbocharged engines that need only a slight prod of the throttle to generate meaningful acceleration.
The handling is excellent, with accurate, direct steering that’s a pleasure to use. Grip levels are fine in the dry, but it does have its limits in damp or rainy conditions. This is because the BRZ is fitted with narrow tyres that don’t have a huge amount of grip in difficult conditions. The BRZ is supposed to be a little bit playful on the limit, with a number of different stability control settings to keep you safe should the back-end start to step out of line. That’s okay if you like that sort of thing, but it can be a little unnerving to begin with.
Given that it is a sports car, the ride is surprisingly well sorted. It is still firm at low speeds to limit unwanted body roll, but it manages to soak up the bigger shocks from speed bumps, potholes and motorway expansion joints very well. Combined with the excellent front seats, you can find yourself getting quite comfortable in the BRZ, until the road noise starts to irritate, especially on broken bits of tarmac where the roar is very noticeable. The BRZ is a light car, which comes at the expense of some sound deadening. Rivals, such as the Audi TT, are rather more refined.
The interior isn’t a BRZ strong suit either. It does get plenty of equipment, but the quality is less than stellar. Some of the finishes aren’t that pleasant to the touch, and many of the switches feel like they’ve come from a car built in the 1980s. The digital clock certainly does.
Space is at a premium in this car. The back seats are best used for short trips only because legroom is in short supply. The boot is a reasonable size and would cope with weekend luggage for two, but the opening is rather small and limits its ability to hold taller objects. If you want a fast, practical car, then the Volkswagen Golf R has seating for five and a hatchback boot, with a much larger opening.