If you’re planning to get a brand new out-of-the-box performance car at around the Php 2 million mark, there’s not a lot of options to choose from in the market. One of the most popular performance models people have bought in the past few years would be the Subaru WRX, and it’s easy to see why. It fits the Php 2 million budget, has a turbocharged engine, available with either a manual or CVT, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and styling similar to the flagship WRX STI. More importantly, though, it has four doors making it one of the most practical choices.
But, what if you don’t need the practicality of a four-door sedan? Instead, you want a low slung rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe to get the proper sports car feel. Well, both Subaru and Toyota does offer something that fits the box – the BRZ and 86 twins. If you want to check out our review of the Toyota 86, you may read about it here. Today, we’ll be checking out its Subaru counterpart, the 2019 BRZ.
Much like the 86, the Subaru BRZ has been in the market for around seven years now, making it one of the oldest models in Motor Image Pilipinas’ line up. Despite being an older model, the 2019 BRZ doesn’t look dated and still looks fresh thanks to a styling update a few years back. The update isn’t major in anyway featuring only a revised front bumper and new LED headlights at the front. Meanwhile, the fog lights have been reshaped to match the vent and were upgraded to LED units. While the changes are small, it was enough to make the BRZ look a lot more aggressive than its predecessor.
Not a lot of changes can be seen from the side apart from the revised 17-inch wheels. At the rear, the OEM wing has been reshaped. I’m not a fan of the new design, but then again, I didn’t like the old wing either. Personally, I find the BRZ looks a lot better either with a small ducktail or just without a wing. Nonetheless, the new spoiler isn’t visible from the rearview mirror so it won’t block your view. The new LED taillights, however, look cool and complement the updated headlights at the front.
Inside, it is pretty much the same as the previous-generation BRZ, at least at first glance. Situated in front of the driver is a new gauge cluster with a multi-screen LCD information display which shows various vehicle parameters such as oil and water temperatures, average consumption, and range. It even has a stopwatch function for those who want to keep track of their times on the racetrack. The LCD screen is controlled from the new steering wheel, which now features audio controls as well.
Despite having a new steering wheel with audio controls, I was disappointed that the head unit has not been upgraded from its predecessor. Yes, it’s still the same non-touchscreen head unit with no Bluetooth connectivity as it only has Aux and USB input. I mean it’s 2019, most entry-level cars now have Bluetooth connecting head units at a minimum. Well, at least owners won’t regret ditching the factory head unit for a newer model.
Under the hood is same 2.0-liter twin-cam flat-four as its predecessor and the Toyota 86. It continues to produce 200 horsepower at 7000 RPM and 205 Nm of torque at 6400 - 6600 rpm. Probably my favorite feature about the BRZ though would have to be its six-speed manual transmission. Simply put, the BRZ’s (and 86’s) transmission has one of the best shifter feels of any manual transmission car today. It doesn’t feel sloppy and it requires some effort to get into gear.
On the road, the BRZ communicates the road to you very well. In fact, you can feel most of the bumps and the uneven surfaces. While that may be great for handling and driving on the racetrack, it’s not very comfortable for daily driving, especially on bumpy roads. One thing I noticed with the BRZ is the stiff suspension, which is especially felt when driving slow. I find the suspension bearable, but some might find it a bit too harsh especially in slow-moving traffic on a bumpy road.
Now, you’re probably wondering if the BRZ is capable as a daily driver. Honestly it is. Given the chance, I would daily a BRZ. It’s very fuel efficient for a 2.0-liter as I managed to do around 8km/l in the city. Do note this includes standstill traffic and a few spirited drives. Driving on the expressway, I managed to do 14-15km/l as the gearing was great for cruising at 90-100km/h.
While it is capable of being a daily driver, there are some drawbacks to doing this. For example, there is barely any trunk space to fit cargo. A full size-spare takes most of the trunk and even protrudes from the trunk board, leaving you with not a lot of room to put stuff in. While it is marketed as a 2+2, the rear seats can’t fit anyone comfortably unless they don’t have any legs. Then there's also the issue of entering and exiting the BRZ. Some people might have a hard time getting out of the coupe as there are no grab handles to help you exit from the seats. It’s the same story getting in as the seats are positioned very low.
Sure, you’ll look cool driving a World Rally Blue BRZ on the streets. However, you won’t get to feel the ‘magic’ of the BRZ driving it slowly on the roads. The only time you get to fully exploit the BRZ capabilities is when you're driving it at speed and throwing it around the corners. It’s not particularly fast in straight lines, but it is really good at going around corners.
Even with only the factory Michelin Primacy HP tires, attacking the corners of Clark International Speedway wasn’t scary. The BRZ feels planted and it doesn’t feel as if the rear will suddenly kick out even if you accelerate too early. The steering may be electric, but it does have good feedback. If you push it too hard, the stability control will automatically kick in and save you from potentially crashing. If you want to have some sideways fun, you can also turn off traction control to go sliding around the corners instead.
Overall, it's the feeling that you get when driving the BRZ that you won’t really find in another car similarly priced car. It’s a good learner car if you want to try driving something rear-wheel drive. In the right hands, it is capable of beating drivers with more powerful cars on track. There’s also a ton of aftermarket support for the BRZ, which will allow you to fine tune how the car looks and handles.
At Php 2,058,000, the 2019 BRZ does carry a hefty premium over its Toyota twin considering they are essentially the same vehicle except for cosmetic difference. That said, the BRZ does have a more exclusive feel as more people are driving around in the 86. Unlike the 86 M/T, all manual BRZ units are indent order from Motor Image Pilipinas, which means you’ll likely have to wait a few months before your unit arrives.
While the WRX may seem like the reasonable choice, you won’t get the same ‘magic feel’ as compared to driving or a BRZ. I guess at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and whether or not you need a more practical car. If you ask me though, I’d say screw practicality and hello BRZ.