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Agressive, not offensive! Test drive of the Subaru BRZ STi

Agressive, not offensive! Test drive of the Subaru BRZ STi

The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 is perhaps the most unique collaboration in recent decades. Subaru is well known for its boxer engine and all-wheel drive. Toyota is well known for losing its soul and excitement with concentration on cars designed for A-B use. Subaru's lack of all-wheel drive and Toyota's injection of excitement with not much of a difference between the two has a lot of people talking... and giving their opinion. Here's mine.

When I approach the Subaru BRZ S a smile grows on my face. Shining silver with the black S kit including black STi wheels, it looks aggressive but retains good style unlike the Toyota GT86 Aero styling. STi Docklands expert Dale asks if I'd prefer manual or auto. Manuals are fun and pretty straightforward. Automatic transmissions in sports cars are a great option for suburban and city driving in thick traffic. I was keen to experience how the automatic performs its changes up and down so I chose it.

I press the red STi start button and the engine barks into life. The burble of the optional STi exhaust suggests I'm in for fun. Dale gives me a quick overview of the drive settings; Sport, VSC and TCS and then I'm on my way. I've never been more interested in driving an auto transmission. It’s common knowledge the BRZ is Toyota's 86 and to add to this, the transmission is Lexus technology.

The burble of the engine and exhaust excite me. The seating position is low and looking out across the bonnet with bulging front wheel arches I get the impression this car means business. The seat is completely comfortable and holds my lanky frame well. One of the most annoying situations is trying to hold yourself into a seat when cornering at high speeds. This seat design alleviates this concern.

Subaru BRZ STiSubaru BRZ STi

Left foot on the brake pedal, slot the gear selector into D and across into Manual, let the handbrake off and I'm up for some fun. Rolling on automatic idle speed out of Subaru Dockland's car park and it is evident the suspension is tight. At car park speed it’s difficult to assume the level of performance this car holds. I sedately accelerate out of the car park for the U-turn (hairpin to any car enthusiast) on Lorimer St. An immature feeling tries to give me reason to speed into the turn, use the handbrake, steering and accelerator pedal to slide the car around. But I'm a responsible citizen and I don’t know the car yet so this kind of fun will have to wait.

Getting comfortable and confident with this car comes as quickly as the tacho needle moves through the rev range. Side, rear and forward visibility is fine. The way this car is designed; chassis low to the ground, seating position on the floor and extensive legroom makes it a great driver's car.

The engine is responsive and has good power through the rev range. It just wants to keep going. On these urban roads I have to keep myself disciplined. Downshifting as I slow to come to a stop at the red traffic lights, the throttle blips. A real aggressive grunt! It’s an exciting sound and it turns heads too.

This little sports coupe would not be seen as a family car but I wanted to take the wife and kids for a drive. Having a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old means fitting the child seats. Yes, they do fit! Forget the idea of taking a pram or stroller though as the boot is far too small. The kids love the ride and more specifically the little quarter glass between B and C pillar they think was designed with them in mind.

Subaru BRZ STi

 Subaru BRZ STi

The kids are now left behind at Grandma and Grandpa's. Time for touge, the Japanese word for 'mountain pass', through the hills between Selby and Cardinia Reservoir. The car lends itself well to the twisties. I'm not taking any risks on the public road; no big commitments in braking or cornering speed. Steering is responsive and direct. Balance is fine and settled on the undulations of the roadway. The engine? Yeah, still fun.

Anybody who says these cars are seriously underpowered are those kind of people who need power in a straight line because they don’t understand how to commit to a corner. People without an understanding of driving skill. This engine is well balanced and responsive. It’s in tune with the chassis. It would feel at home revving hard highly committed through corners. It needs to run - rally, hill climb, race track. Its awaiting competition.

Blog posted from Macleod VIC, Australia View larger map

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