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Subaru BRZ review

Proper sports cars, ones built from the ground up to be genuine sports cars, are rare and expensive. Not in the case of the Subaru BRZ, though. This Japanese purpose-built performance coupé is affordable and attainable.  

Subaru has managed this accomplishment by keeping the BRZ simple – it’s small, light, has a moderately-sized engine and a manual gearbox  


Does the Subaru BRZ look familiar? Like you’ve seen it already, but with a Toyota badge? Don’t worry, you’re not going mad, the Subaru BRZ is – save for a different bumper – the same car as Toyota’s GT86.

That’s no bad thing, both the BRZ and GT86 are fine-looking cars. They’re well proportioned, with their relatively long bonnets reflecting their front-engined layout. Their eye-like lights and curves make them look pretty too. While certain details reintroduce some toughness – the rear wing, diffuser and twin chrome tailpipes, for example.

blue subaru brz

What's it like to drive?

Right from the very start of the Subaru BRZ experience, you know it’s going to be a great car to drive. Plonk yourself into the low seat and you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you, steering wheel in the perfect position and the gear lever right where you expect it. Maybe not the best car for granddad, though. 

It also combines a tough I-can-take-on-anything attitude, with a nimble lightness – an unlikely pairing, but one that highlights what an engineering masterpiece the BRZ is. 

The BRZ’s engine doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the car’s energy and capabilities. It makes a dull noise and you need to be very deliberate with the throttle and revs to make the little Subaru go as fast as its looks might suggest. Still, the whirring engine doesn’t ruin the top-notch work of the chassis and suspension. The BRZ is still thoroughly entertaining to drive. 

subaru brz side

Right from the very start of the Subaru BRZ experience, you know it’s going to be a great car to drive.


The car isn’t quite what you’d expect inside. The materials are cheap and the infotainment is dated. The whole interior feels like it’s been designed as a toy – the fake carbon fibre trim parts, the simulated leather and imitation aerospace switches would be more appropriate on a gaming simulator, not a real-life car. 

It’s almost echoey, too – the sparse cabin amplifies the noise of the engine. It’s exactly what you want in a sports car, admittedly, but it isn’t something that’s appealing in every single situation and can become tiring.  

subaru brz interior

The highlight once you’re inside the BRZ is its seats. With their winged shoulder supports, they look great, And, thanks to some notable bolsters and Alcantara centres, they really keep you in place while you’re driving seriously. Unlike many sports seats, however, they’re really soft and squishy, making them deeply comfortable. 

Despite the seats, the BRZ’s chintzy interior is disappointing. Yet, it isn’t so bad that you can’t live with it. The plastics and vinyls are hardwearing and, when you’re enjoying the car’s best attribute, how it drives, you just don’t spend that much time worrying about whether the leather is real or not. 


The Subaru BRZ was designed with track days in mind, as it can carry a spare set of wheels and tyres in the boot, for those real petrol-heads who want to be Lewis Hamilton for a day. 

This means that the BRZ is practical and spacious – a set of replacement wheels and tyres takes up an enormous amount of room. 

It achieves its big load space by allowing you to fold down its rear seats. Yes, the Subaru BRZ is a four-seater – it has two back seats suitable for children and teenagers. When they’re folded down, the boot and rear cabin provide a wide and long space – it’s just not very tall. It is deep enough for a suitcase or golf clubs once laid flat or, of course, a wheel on its side. 

Reliability and running costs

Amazingly, many of the attributes that make the BRZ a great sports car – its low weight and simplicity – actually make it an affordable car to run. It’s great on fuel – drive it like a performance car and you’ll still see over 30mpg. Drive it carefully, however, and the Subaru could do over 40mpg. 

Its basic mechanical package means there’s nothing too complicated and troublesome, and it’s a very reliable car. This simplicity also means that it’s no more expensive to service than a regular small family hatchback

What we love

The Subaru BRZ is not a flash sports car. You don’t get a fancy badge, a luxurious interior or wild performance figures to quote to your friends – it’s just not designed to impress other people.  

What you do get is a car that’s been expertly developed to feel poised and balanced, to feel energetic and characterful. Its sole purpose is to keep you, the driver, entertained.  

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Town and country drivers



So what if the BRZ misses out on an exotic engine, sumptuous leather and super-fast acceleration times? It’s fun to drive, has space for the kids and their gear if you need to drop them off at their friends’ sleepover, and it’s affordable. For everyday thrills, you can’t fault it.

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