Over half a century ago the late and legendary Colin Chapman, when talking about performance in cars, said, “Simplify, then add lightness”. If around today he would no doubt be delighted by the Subaru BRZ. The BRZ was born from a desire to develop a sports car which was built only to the mantra of sheer driving pleasure. Thanks to this unwavering determination, Subaru have certainly achieved their aim. It’s a pocket rocket.
All too often car makers suffer from a trepidation of purpose. They introduce exciting concepts to the world, only to water down the final result. Not so with the BRZ. It was conceived and built for the pleasure of driving and for no other reason. Once bitten forever smitten, yet it remains a mystery why this sports tourer is so overlooked by the motoring public.
It serves no purpose to review this car here. It is not new – although there’s a new one coming – and the internet has all you can eat from the road test menu since the introduction of this little automotive gem. It is more important to concentrate on what the driver will get from the experience.
In this autonomous era of connected cars and driverless shuttles the car you see in the images is a kind of dinosaur for sure, but it’s a raptor; a car that has teeth and one that will bite the unwary and unruly. Anyone can bury their foot to go fast; that’s the easy part. Not mightily quick but full of enthusiasm, the Subaru BRZ serves up a package of thrills that will sate the soul of the adrenaline junkie. It’s not fear that you need, it is a cool nerve and a mastery of the controls. That Zen state when hands, eyes, feet and machine are in total harmony.
Driving this sweet car over a long period reveals to the pilot levels of driving pleasure long thought lost. The BRZ drives with all components in perfect concord. It is almost totally neutral and with the boxer engine set low and driving the rear wheels there’s an almost total absence of roll, pitch or dive.
The delectable steering, despite having electric assistance, is superb. The virtually perfect weighting has been engineered to deliver real old-school sensations back to your hands. What a joy it is to have some ‘feeling’; none of your one-finger twiddling here. On the go there’s certainly a need to keep the revs humming high but there’s no sense crowding the red-line, just short-shift and prepare for the next corner or the next overtake. The right gear at the right time. You have to work at it to get the best from the Subaru BRZ but isn’t that the point?
Driving into the dusk after a long day on the road, the colours of the countryside compound into a single dense blue-green. A flick of the headlight switch turns near-night into true night, the beams cutting a swathe through the hedgerows and picking out the driving line ahead. The experience changes, the car doesn’t.
The tyres, straight off the Toyota Prius, work well and on the standard wheels serve to add comfort to the ride. They perform with good grip but there’s a limit to their patience and tolerance and will encourage the BRZ to snap out of line. They are meant to. This is the challenge of this sporting motor – it makes you appreciate why good driving matters.
The feelings we get when driving well are the feelings we get with any pleasurable experience. Good driving is an obsession and it doesn’t always have to be fast driving either. As with other things in life it is possible to get enjoyment from the act as much as the outcome.
We live in a nasty world of violence and grey-suited government so why shouldn’t we have some fun? Inside the Subaru BRZ it’s your world with your rules. What’s outside doesn’t matter, it’s all about the charge and the buzz.
Obviously there are other rules too. Save top speed for the track. This is where the BRZ scores. At what point on UK roads can you hurtle into the void at supercar speeds? You can’t. Instead, do yourself a favour and find a twisting, turning de-restricted road and this small sports car will deliver the goods at seventy miles per hour. Driver rewarded every special time. We’ll see what the new model brings. Geoff Maxted