Subaru BRZ

IT’S A BIT unfair to Subaru’s BRZ that its Toyota counterpart hit Oz more than a month before it did. After all, the joint-project coupe is both Subaru-powered and Subie-built, meanwhile it was the Toyota that snatched all the glory (and headlines).

And though the $37,150 BRZ ($39,730 auto) appears more expensive than the Toyota, that pricing is drive-away, and includes more equipment than in a $29,990 base 86. In fact, it’s not far short of a $35,490 top-spec 86 GTS, and also includes servicing for three years/60,000km.

The big question remaining is: do the minor mechanical differences have a noticeable effect on the way the front-mid-engined rear-driver handles?

Not at all surprisingly, all the praise heaped on Toyota’s 86 is transferrable to its Subie sister. Officially, the only mechanical difference between BRZ and 86 is a pair of 10-percent-stiffer front coil springs in the Subaru. The impression from driving it is that the differences are subtle, not significant. The Subaru turns in a bit more incisively, with a fraction less body roll, before settling into a flatter mid-corner stance. Ride quality is a bit less compliant than in the 86, though the BRZ remains comfortable. There’s not much in it.

The precise, feel-rich electro-mechanical steering remains the highlight, the lightweight, rear-drive chassis beautifully balanced, and capable of almost infinite angles of attack. Meanwhile, the 147kW 2.0-litre boxer is a willing partner that spins with gusto and delivers its best when the big hand says 12 (or 6000rpm).

In the end, the decision between BRZ and 86 won’t be based on price or whether one brilliant coupe sparkles more brightly than the other. Rather, it’ll come down to brand preference, or which one buyers can get their hands on first.

Read the full report on Subaru’s BRZ in Wheels September, on sale August 15

Check out our BRZ galleries here.

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