Subaru's BRZ sports car here next year

By Alastair Sloane

The BRZ deviates from Subaru's range by being rear wheel drive. Photo / Supplied
The BRZ deviates from Subaru's range by being rear wheel drive. Photo / Supplied

Subaru managing director Wallis Dumper has ruled on the BRZ sports coupe: "It will be in New Zealand next year. It's a good car."

Dumper decided to include the rear-drive BRZ in his line-up of all-wheel-drive vehicles after meetings at Subaru headquarters in Japan last week.

There was some doubt over the car's appearance here because it was rear-drive, a dynamic departure from Subaru's all-paw mission statement.

But it adds to Subaru's inventory. On top of that, it has the lowest centre of gravity in the fleet, thanks to its 2-litre naturally aspirated engine being mounted lower than in any other Subaru.

The BRZ comes with pillarless doors, too, giving away that a soft-top will come later in the production cycle.

Subaru has said so: "Everyone who sees this coupe wants a convertible. If demand is enough they can have it," said a product planning executive at the Tokyo motor show.

But there is unlikely to be a turbocharged version, although Dumper won't rule it out. "That's what the engineers are saying but we don't know for sure." A Subaru engineer at the Tokyo show said a booster would be "difficult because of the [engine] packaging".

"It was not wanted, anyway," he said, adding that the development team preferred an engine with a "rev-happy nature".

The BRZ was co-developed with Toyota's GT 86. Toyota owns about 17 per cent of the Subaru parent, Fuji Heavy Industries.

Subaru supplied the flat-four engine in both cars but Toyota equipped it with its own direct-injection system. The engine is identical, right down to the joint Toyota-Subaru engine cover in both models.

It delivers 147kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm at 6600rpm and drives the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.

The BRZ's dimensions are also identical to the GT 86, at 4240mm long, 1775mm wide and 1285mm high, with all main metal panels - including the lightweight aluminium bonnet - a match.

The BRZ's kerbweight is 1220kg, against 1180kg for the GT 86. Both coupes have a 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution.

Toyota New Zealand will bring in the GT 86 next year. It will throw its weight behind it, too - Toyota expects to end 2012 by celebrating 25 years straight as the country's best-selling nameplate.

- NZ Herald

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