SUBARU’S rear-wheel drive BRZ sports coupe is a real head-turner thanks to its roaring engine and elegant styling.

The changes to the 2017 version may be subtle rather than earth-shattering, but are nevertheless sufficient to elevate the car’s appeal to the next level.

The crisp coupe styling that has come to define the BRZ is still very much to the fore.

But a noticeable change comes in the form of a wider and lower front end, which lends the vehicle a more imposing and aggressive stance.

The car’s face sports an eye-catching hexagonal grille, smartly-sculpted headlights and short front overhangs.

The BRZ is arguably even more dynamic in appearance when viewed from the rear.

Here, you’ll find that Subaru has hit upon the perfect blend, with a new-look spoiler, redesigned LED light clusters and twin exhaust pipes combining to create a stylish silhouette.

The sporty appearance is rounded off by 10-spoke alloy wheels.

While it might be fun to look at, the real entertainment begins when you get behind the wheel.

With its light and tight chassis, the car feels nimble and grips the road with confidence-inspiring ease.

The fact the BRZ is fitted with a Torsen limited slip rear differential for improved traction enables a spirited driver to fully appreciate the car’s front-engined rear-wheel drive set-up.

Meanwhile, body roll in the corners has been reduced due to a redesign of the dampers.

Combine that with a low centre of gravity, and you’re looking at a car that offers very precise handling for the driving purist.

Under the bonnet, the power is provided by a 2.0 litre horizontally-opposed (Boxer) engine.

The four cylinder 16-valve petrol engine provides 200ps at 7000rpm. This automatic version of the BRZ is capable of going from a standing start to 62mph in 8.2 seconds, although the manual version performs the same sprint a little quicker.

The acceleration through the six-speed automatic box is smooth and responsive, but drivers who want greater control over the revs can use the paddle shifts to change up or down and maximise the engine’s performance in the higher rev range.

For a car primarily designed to be sporty, the BRZ’s engine strikes a decent balance when it comes to fuel economy, with official combined figures nearing the 40mpg bracket.

The interior of the BRZ, which had previously attracted some criticism, has been given a significant refresh.

The instrument clusters have been upgraded, making them easier to read, while a new 4.2-inch LCD multi-information display offers a wealth of information about the car’s performance.

There’s also a smaller steering wheel than before with a better grip, and the cabin’s improved feel is completed by the upgraded stereo and the Starlink infotainment system with 6.2-inch touchscreen.

Theoretically, there’s space in the back for passengers, although I wouldn’t envy anyone trying to sit directly behind a 6ft driver.

In some ways, it might be more realistic to think of it as a two-seater with a row of storage behind the front seats for bags or coats.

Oh, and if you wondered what BRZ stands for, you’re probably not alone. The answer, it seems, is that B stands for ‘Boxer’, as in the punch-counterpunch motion engine that powers the car, while the R stands for rear-wheel drive. Sensible so far, yeah? The Z is arguably a little more subjective, standing for ‘Zenith’, with Subaru stating that it demonstrates its “commitment to providing driving enthusiasts with the best tool for the job.”

Names aside, there’s no doubt that this is a classic driver’s car in the true sense, born out of an admirable desire to build a back-to-basics sports car. The BRZ is available in one trim called SE Lux with either a manual or automatic gearbox, priced from £26,050.


Subaru BRZ SE Lux auto

PRICE: £27,995 on the road
ENGINE: 1998cc four-cylinder, four-stroke ‘Boxer’ petrol
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
PERFORMANCE: Top speed of 130mph and 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds
ECONOMY: Fuel 39.8mpg combined and emissions of 164g/km


SPACE: ***
VALUE: ****