Back in 2012, Japanese manufacturers Subaru and Toyota came together to create two of the most exciting drivers’ cars of recent times: the BRZ and the GT86.
The recipe was simple: pair a light, agile chassis with rear-wheel drive, a limited-slip diff and an engine that offers just enough power to have fun – while keeping the end product affordable.
All but identical bar subtle styling cues, they were hailed as being among the best-handling cars of the decade.
Development costs were shared between the two firms, though Subaru did most of the heavy lifting by taking the lead on development, testing and production, with Toyota overseeing project planning and design.
Buyers may find it difficult to choose between them, but our tip for future classic stardom is the BRZ, which is the rarer of the two and seems a more appropriate home for the boxer ‘four’ – a development of the FB20 and EJ20 units that powered the famed Impreza.
Somewhat controversially, the BRZ is yet to receive the kind of power that made the turbocharged Impreza such a hit, but Subaru’s reluctance to build a full-fat STI model at least stays true to the original concept.
Power output is rated at 197bhp, with 151lb ft of torque, which is enough to propel the BRZ to 60mph in 7.5 secs and on to a 135mph maximum.
But while the spec sheet won’t win you many games of Top Trumps, it only tells half the story: the BRZ is far more engaging and rewarding to drive hard than much quicker (and more costly) opposition.
Part of the reason is fantastic balance – 45:55 weight distribution is achieved by mounting the flat-four low and well back in the chassis – and slim 215-section tyres help, too, as does a kerbweight of just 1242kg.
The result is a car that’s easy to drive hard and communicative at the limit, with initial understeer easily turned into progressive oversteer with a squeeze of the throttle.
The drivetrain, too, is reassuringly well-engineered, with an audible clack from the snappy gearbox – though it feels smoother once it has warmed up.
Two trim levels are available, SE and SE Lux; the major difference between the two is the latter’s leather seats, but the sports buckets in our SE test car were supportive and comfortable.
The rest of the cabin will be familiar to anyone who’s owned a Subaru – well built and functional – though the dash display is new, with a large rev counter taking centre stage.
The Subaru BRZ is a car that appeals to enthusiasts, so most on the secondhand market will have been cherished.
If you’re tempted to buy new, however, we’d suggest speccing your car in WR Blue Pearl – a take on the shade that adorned the World Rally Championship Imprezas that made the firm’s name in the 1990s.
- Engine 1998cc boxer ‘four’; 197bhp @ 7000rpm; 151lb ft @ 6500rpm
- Transmission six-speed manual, RWD
- 0-60mph 7.5 secs
- Top speed 135mph
- Mpg 36.2
- Price £26,525