The Subaru BRZ Sport-tech is a compact powerhouse on the road

Dale Johnson: Subaru BRZ Sport-techOf the dozens of cars I have test driven during the past year, the one that was the most fun was the Subaru BRZ Sport-tech.

It’s a small, nimble rear-wheel-drive coupe. It’s all about the enjoyment of driving, especially with the six-speed standard transmission (an automatic is optional) – ideally on winding, country roads.

This BRZ brought back very fond memories of an MG Midget I owned many years ago.

Subaru calls the BRZ an “Ionic sports car design, engineered for driving fun” – and I couldn’t agree more.

The fun part of driving is about the only thing the BRZ shares with the MG.

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The BRZ has modern technologies, performance-tuned suspension and safety equipment, including rear/side vehicle detection. There’s also a premium eight-speaker sound system, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and heated front seats.

The engine is a 2.4-litre direct injection Subaru Boxer that produces 228 horsepower, about 10 percent more power than the first-generation BRZ offered from 2009 to 2021. The BRZ is rated at 12 litres per 100 km in the city and 8.8 litres per 100 km on the highway.

With the low profile – it’s just 1,310 mm (51.5 in) tall – visibility is not great out the rear window but is fine out the sides.

It’s small and light, so some people might find the ride a bit choppy compared to larger vehicles. But for the type of vehicle, the ride is entirely appropriate. You can hear the engine working, but that’s all part of driving this type of vehicle. Handling is outstanding.

In the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year voting, the BRZ finished second behind the Hyundai Elantra N in the performance category, which also included the Ford Mustang, Mazda MX-5, Nissan Z, Toyota GR Supra and Toyota GR 86

Only the Mazda MX-5 scored higher than the BRZ for ride comfort, and they tied for best handling. The BRZ scored highest for braking feel and effectiveness.

The dashboard is very informative, with a large tachometer directly in front of the driver; different gauges on the side can be selected by scrolling through a menu. There’s an 8.0-inch navigation screen in the centre of the dashboard. Thankfully, not all wishes and commands need to go through the touch screen. For the sound system, there are nice, big round knobs for the volume and tuning. The heating and ventilation system is also controlled by big, easy-to-read and easy-to-grab knobs.

The driving position is outstanding. The seats wrap right around me. There’s lots of legroom in the front when the seats go all the way back. No wonder the BRZ scored highest of the seven vehicles in the performance category for driving position and ergonomics.

However, with the front seats pushed all the way back, which was ideal for me, there is virtually no rear seat legroom unless passengers sit cross-legged. While technically a four-seater vehicle, having a BRZ is not about space to haul passengers,

When the rear seat is folded down, there is an amazing amount of hauling capacity for a vehicle this size, which sits on a wheelbase of 2,575 mm (101.3 in) and is 4,265 mm (168 in) long. In AJAC scoring, only the Hyundai Elantra N scored higher in luggage capacity among performance cars.

The basic BRZ has a starting price of $30,495, and the list price of my test vehicle was $32,495.

This is a highly functional vehicle (for one or two people), surprisingly spacious, reasonably priced and easy to handle. But mostly, the BRZ is just fun!

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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