Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: October 2, 2017
A quick overview of Subaru’s venerable RWD sports car and you’d be hard pressed to spot many changes from the outgoing model. The BRZ received a significant revamp for 2017 including a redesigned front fascia, LED daytime running lights, and a rear deck mounted wing - cosmetic changes that could be easily shrugged off as a weak attempt at maintaining relevancy in the market. A deeper dive on the mechanical changes might further support this notion too. A paltry 5 hp and 5 lb-ft increase from the naturally aspirated 2.0L boxer four doesn’t seem like progress to me.
But it’s the silent changes underneath the skin that make the biggest impact - adding further polish to an already excellent chassis. For one, the dampers have been retuned to offer a sportier ride, and a beefier rear sway bar has been added to improve the car’s already impressive cornering prowess. The engineers at Subaru have also reinforced certain areas of the chassis to increase rigidity, making cornering that much more fun. Still, perhaps the most palpable change comes from the more aggressive final drive in the BRZ. Moving down to a 4.1 final drive ratio allows for faster acceleration and effectively more torque at the wheels.
These developments aren’t unique to the BRZ however. All of them are reflected in the rebranded Toyota 86 as well. Where the BRZ ups its ante to buyers is with the Inazuma Edition, which commands a $4,700 premium over the standard BRZ. Delivering tremendous value to buyers, the only caveat to the Inazuma Edition is your choice of exterior paint schemes...or rather, lack thereof. Subaru seemed to have taken a page out of Henry Ford’s book and produced the Inazuma in one colour only: an eye searing bright yellow.
It’s befitting as the edition takes its name from the Japanese word for lightning. All of that lightning is contrasted by matte black details such as exclusive 17-inch wheels and a rear deck spoiler. Lightning in the darkness of the night might be where this BRZ draws its inspiration from, though I see more Pikachu than thunderbolts especially with that smiley grill out front. But the changes don’t stop there - the real tangible differences between the BRZ and Toyota 86 sibling are the Brembo red brake calipers and Sachs dampers found exclusively in this BRZ.
Inside, the car has received a special touch of yellow contrast stitching, door grabs, and highlights on the shoulder bolsters of the seats. It sounds ostentatious and over the top but in reality it’s well executed. Once the door is shut and you’re inside the confines of the alcantara and onyx black leather seats, your focus is lasered to the steering wheel.
The flat-four is eager to rev and as always, rewards drivers when they thrash the car hard. Keep the revs past 4,500 RPM and the BRZ transforms a simple commute to the corner store into an exciting adventure. The shifter is light and throws are as short as ever. There’s a level of notchiness to the action that owners of an STI would instantly recognize - alas it’s not as direct as other cars in its class.
Thankfully, the BRZ has a strong aftermarket following. A quick look on Google and you’d be able to find a third-party product that addresses some shortfalls of the BRZ. Rightly so too, as a large portion of buyers would eventually (or immediately) look to upgrade their little pocket rocket. Dampers and springs are always first on the table - in the instance of the Inazuma edition, the upgraded Sachs dampers do a sublime job out of the box.
It won’t compete to a track oriented set-up from Moton or JRZ, but the engineers at Subaru have fine-tuned the ride on the street to be rather compliant. It’s a firm ride, but it doesn’t beat you up in the streets of downtown Toronto - a good compromise between sporty characteristics and a comfortable daily. Corner hard on an off ramp and the BRZ hunkers down and the relatively ungrippy Michelin Primacy tires struggle to cling to the tarmac. Just a bit more push, and the rear end will start to swing out. On a stickier set of tires, the BRZ would do a formidable job running rings around cars well above its class.
When you’ve had too much fun, stomp on the brake pedal and the big 4-piston Brembo calipers (same as those off of a WRX) will bring the Inazuma Edition down to a street legal speed almost immediately. In day to day life, the Brembos don’t alter much of your drive - pedal travel is smooth and the bite comes gradually. Under more tense braking situations, they prove their worth by biting hard on the rotors and bringing the speed of the BRZ down to a more manageable level. Owners looking to track their vehicles will need to throw in some better fluids and pads, but the design of the calipers should minimize brake fade for those longer sessions.
At a relatively digestible price of $32,695, the Subaru BRZ Inazuma edition is a pot of gold in value. While the philosophy and mannerism of the BRZ remain unchanged, its recipe is certainly identical, and the laser focus on handling means drivers will reap the rewards on a daily basis. The functional upgrades in the Inazuma Edition already blows the Toyota 86 out of the water and if you look at it on paper, the BRZ’s biggest threat is really the WRX Sport, offering a more powerful and more functional sports sedan for merely $1,000 more. But then again, the BRZ and WRX are worlds apart and cater towards different philosophies. It’s hard to go wrong with either Subaru, but the Inazuma Edition makes the deal just that much sweeter.
型号 Model: 2017 Subaru BRZ Inazuma Edition
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,695
試車售價 Price as Tested: $32,695
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,570
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,235 / 1,775 / 1,320
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,267
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre flat-four cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 205 hp @ 7,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 156 lb-ft @ 6,400 - 6,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.1 / 8.0 / 9.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 215/45 R17 Michelin Primacy HP