Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
I can see why there are so many of these on the streets, whether it the Subaru BRZ or the Scion FR-S. The key to the perfect sports car was always a low stance, wide body, rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission, and aero bits sticking out everywhere - and this BRZ has got it all in addition to a feathery price-tag.
Designed by Toyota and engineered by Subaru, the BRZ was hailed as a performance bargain that wouldn't break the bank. B for boxer engine, R for rear-wheel drive, and Z for zenith. With this killer recipe, sales sky-rocketed in 2012. Models flew off the shelf and waiting lists for the BRZ were out the door. In 2014 the numbers have slowly dwindled, despite Subaru saying they are totally happy with their sales. And they thought hey, what better way to boost up that line graph than to launch some limited edition models. In my mind it was a malicious ploy to make us drool until the BRZ STI arrives (fingers crossed), but lo and behold, the Aozora Edition. Exclusive to the Canadian market, there are only 200 being produced, 100 in World Rally Blue Pearl, and 100 in Crystal White Pearl.
The keys to the latter were waiting for me at Subaru's head office in Mississauga, Ontario. In a rush to commute downtown for work, I quickly hopped into the BRZ and took the 401 east towards the congested Don Valley Parkway. With the highway exit coming up, I realized I wasn't in the right lane. I down-shifted to third gear and sped up to overtake a 2007 Toyota Camry hovering to my right. And guess what, he sped-up too, rejecting my abrupt maneuver. We were neck to neck, when the driver in the Camry suddenly hammered the throttle and sped on by. I was okay with that, until I realized my right foot was planted on the gas pedal the whole time. It is here I would hashtag, #roadrage #overtakenbyacamry
It is clear that the Subaru BRZ isn't the fastest in the herd, nor is speed its strong suit. What is it good for then? And what's so special about this Aozora Edition that Subaru has spewed out to us Canadians?
The additions are purely cosmetic. For starters, the BRZ Aozora wears some new STI-badged front, side, and rear skirts, making the car very low to the ground - careful of those speedbumps. An additional underbody cover is placed beneath to improve the drag coefficient, the brake calipers are painted bright red, and they are also caged in a 17-inch black aluminum alloy wheel stamped with the STI logo. In Japanese, Aozora means "blue sky" and the interior is true to its name. The ocean hue wraps everything from the alcantara seats to the parking lever. Ironic how there isn't a sunroof. The center console dons a knee pad, and the rear-view mirror goes frameless, reminiscent of the Cadillac ELR we drove a few weeks back. Also exclusive to the Aozora is a red STI engine-start button that sits in the center console, awaiting a push. And yes, it looks as if it were designed to launch a nuclear missile. Now count how many times I said STI in this last paragraph. One too many, and the same goes for the Aozora. It's like buying a Coach purse and slapping Gucci stickers all over it.
200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque isn't something to brag about from the 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder BOXER engine. Power is lacking in the higher gears, and you'll need to spend most of your time in the bigger RPMs (around 5000) to squeeze out every ounce of mechanical juice. The BRZ needs a turbo or two to make up for the hollow torque, but it's safe to say that even with the absence of power, the BRZ is still a mighty fun car to drive. Where the BRZ shines is in the corners and this is where the RWD setup comes into play. Thanks to a light curbweight, low center of gravity and a winged spoiler, the BRZ feels incredibly planted and thrashes into bends without too much over-steer.
Yet, the gas pedal has too much filler when you press down, and takes a good push to get an engine response. Revs are not as quick as a WRX but the snail-pace acceleration will be soon be forgotten when this amazing chassis works its magic. The brakes are great, and the clutch is exceptionally smooth (we were worried after the daunting clutch from the WRX STI). The BRZ's short-shift gear lever makes clean transitions between gears, resulting in a sensible gearbox for those first learning how to drive a manual car. The exhaust note is a typical 4-cylinder wind-up. It doesn't scream, but delivers a decent enough audio presentation to match the aerodynamic looks. On a good note, the BRZ has got to be one of my cheapest gas fill-ups in the past few months. 91 octane, a full tank, and it only cost me $56. That tank lasted me an entire week!
The Aozora interior on the other hand, is a collage of many ideas. Flip switches like a Mini, a bottom-to-up speedometer like an Aston, and a short-shifter like an S2000. Aside from that and the blue hues, one of the first things you will notice when hopping into the BRZ is how flat and perpendicular the steering wheel sits to the floor. I'm fairly used to steering wheels angled upwards for a cozier grasp, but the BRZ forces you to sit straight and up-right. Not a bad thing, and the lack of buttons or knobs on the wheel is a refreshing sight.
The sport seats with alcantara inserts are comfy, just be wary not to spill anything on it, it might be hard to wash off. The side bolsters are incredibly snug, and the handbrake is raised for easy access. Plush leather is laid down on parts of the door and console, with faux carbon-fibre panels enriching the plastic-y dashboard. The sport-tech DIVX display is functional, but certainly not the best in the industry (beats the XKR-S at least). The touchscreen is buggy at times, and the screen prompts have to be pressed hard for any response. It doesn't help that the buttons are small either, making it hard to multi-task with one hand on the wheel and one on the shifter. I was hoping they would add a second dial for audio and changing songs - no luck here.
The BRZ Aozora is a step forward towards our dream ricer-mobile, but it doesn't quite cut the cookie. We want more than just cosmetic upgrades, why not a turbo for Christmas this year? For a $2000 premium over the standard BRZ Sport-tech, the Aozora feels justified, especially with its limited production number. The looks are stunning, but the performance, not so much. The BRZ can't compete just yet with its rear-wheel drive rivals, the 350Z and Genesis, but until STI pumps out its derivative of the BRZ, the Aozora is the closest thing we've got to it, which is better than nothing. At least it looks like one.
型号 Model: 2015 Subaru BRZ Aozora Edition
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $31,395
試車售價 Price as Tested: $33,376 (including freight, PDI - before tax)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4235 / 1775 / 1285
車重 Curbweight (kg): 1254
引擎 Engine: 2.0L DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder SUBARU BOXER engine
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 200 / 7000rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 151 / 6400-6600rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed close ratio manual transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double wishbone, stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc (294 x 24mm)
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc (290 x 18mm)
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 10.9 / 7.9 (manual)
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Primary HP 215/45 R17