Friday, November 24, 2017

Devon test drives a Subaru BR-Z (Used)

Toyota GT86 – Frontansicht, 17. September 2012, Düsseldorf.jpg

If you think you're suffering from double vision you're not alone. The Subaru BR-Z and Scion FR-S are nearly identical and share many of the same components. Both are built in the same factory and use the same 2-liter four-cylinder engine. Only differences are a few cosmetic tweeks and slight tuning to the suspension. But is that enough to tell them apart? Let's find out! 

Performance: Only engine on hand is a 2-liter horizontially opposed flat-four which produces 200hp. It doesn't sound like a lot, but for the money it's quite enough. You'll have to rev the engine hard to get the most of it but when you do you'll really love doing it. The manual gearbox makes the BR-Z more enjoyable to drive rather than the automatic which seems to sap more of the already limited amount of power and torque the engine has to offer.

On the road: The BR-Z has a firmer suspension than the FR-S, which makes it more fun to drive through bends and corners. Since it's a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, you can really kick out the rear in corners more than in a front-wheel-drive car. This is where the appeal of rear wheel drive starts to kick in. It's just a hoot to drive and push hard. The steering is slick and the feedback is excellent. It doesn't feel as tail happy as the FR-S but we wish that there was a bit more oomph to really make it more of a joy to drive. Refinement isn't a strong point for the BR-Z. The transmission is clunky and road noise will be an even bigger issue.

Behind the wheel: The driving position is spot on for a sporty feel. The chunky steering wheel offers plenty of grip when pushing through on bends and corners. Most of the controls and dials on the dash are simply arranged and feel somewhat easy to navigate.

Space & Practicality: There's plenty of space in the front but the rear seats are next to useless. Headroom and legroom are far too tight for adults and the foot space is even tighter. You're better off using the rear seat for luggage space rather than for passengers. The boot offers decent amount of space too.

Equipment: The BR-Z comes with a decent amount of kit standard for the money. You get air-con, cd-player and central locking. Voice-activate navigation system and Bluetooth both come standard as well. You'll have to step up to the top of the range to add keyless start and a leather trimmed interior. The base trim seems more of the bargain deal which is the one you're better off with to keep costs down.

Buying & Owning: The BR-Z is priced a bit higher than the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro. Both however don't offer the fuel efficient engine that the BR-Z has and neither of the two are as fun to thrash as the BR-Z is, which should help add to the appeal of the car. It feels more fun to drive in bends too which makes it more of a bargain when you think about it. Fuel costs will be low but insurance costs maybe a bit high due to the sporty nature of the vehicle. Resale value should hold up well considering that Subaru owners tend to keep their vehicles longer.

Quality & Safety: Subaru is known for its rock solid reliability record and that is no exception in the BR-Z. Everything feels well built and long lasting. It isn't as classy as some of the more expensive rivals but it serves its purpose well. There's a decent amount of safety kit too. Stability control is standard as well as seven airbags to protect you in the event of a crash. Anti-whip-lash headrest are standard as well as a good security system to keep theft at bay.

The Subaru BR-Z is slightly more fun to drive than the Scion FR-S thanks to slightly sportier handling. This is where the differences between the FR-S and BR-Z end. Both vehicles are nearly identical but it makes really no sense to have two of the same vehicle without one having something different from the other. We think that the Subaru counterpart should at least offer a turbo engine or a more powerful engine option to really go with the already tossable chassis. You'll have to thrash the engine to keep the momentum going which is something you can't really say about the Mustang and Camaro. One thing you can't say about those two cars is that the running costs will be cheap due to the fact that it is a four-cylinder and it's better on gas compared to the six-cylinders in the Mustang and Camaro. It's a lightweight coupe with rear wheel drive and a low starting price. It's not perfect but it makes sense. We just wish it had more power. 

Devon's Pick: The Premium trim is all you'll really need. The Limited Trim really isn't worth the extra money unless you have to have keyless start and a leather interior. We say that the less you spend the better, unless there is a power upgrade included. 

Likes: Most fun to drive compared to FR-S. Fuel efficient engine with a tossable chassis.

Dislikes: You'll have to thrash the engine more than you'd like. Interior feels cheap. Without the badge there is no way to tell it apart from the FR-S.

Devon M

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