Dienstag, 12. März 2013

Testdriving a BRZ, like a boss!

Oooh, look, a new blogpost! \o/

So, this is another type of posts i will write.
Since i am a car enthusiast, from time to time i will end up publishing something about a car i may have driven, seen, read about or even the one i own.

Todays vehicle is the product of cooperation between Subaru and Toyota; The Subaru BRZ also known as Toyota GT86 or Scion FR-S. Since i am a Subaru fanboy, i will continue calling it a BRZ, but essentially there is almost no difference at all.

So, most of you know Subaru, because of the boxer engine combined with AWD tradition and world rally participation/titles. Others will know Toyota, because of genius vehicles like the Supra, Celica and the AE86 also known as Hachiroku. But not many will know Scion. As far as i know, Scion is just what Toyota gets called in the USA. Don't ask me more, please, my knowledge about that is limited since i do not live in the USA.

What exactly is the BRZ, you ask?
Since i am a big car enthusiast, every now and then i will publish a post about some cool car.
Be it one i've driven, one that got announced, one i've seen or even my own.

After the success of the Supra and Celica, two great coupés, Toyota didn't think much about introducing another one. Production of the Supra stopped long ago, in year 2002. After that, in 2006, they also stopped manufacturing the Celica. Since then, there was no successor for these two cars.
Subaru on the other hand also didn't have a coupé since the year 1999, when prodrive introduced a modified version of the Impreza WRX Type-R STi, which was called the Prodrive P1. Also, unlike the Toyota coupés, the Subaru was an AWD vehicle. Just in case you don't know what this monster looks like, here is a picture of an unmodified P1:
Well, after this very long time, during which JDM (Japan Domestic Market) enthusiasts had to live without a proper coupé, Subaru and Toyota decided to team up and build a new one. That is when the BRZ was born and this is what it looks like:

The base specifications are:
200HP/147KW and 205Nm of torque coming out of a naturally aspirated 2L Boxer engine provided by Subaru
6speed manual/auto gearbox which puts the power to the rear wheels
This setup makes the car go 0-100 in about 7.6 seconds
Steering gear ratio of 13:1
Overall weight of 1220kg

That should be enough for now, if you want to know more, you weill have to search the web for it.

Anyway, yesterday i got one of these from my local Subaru dealer and i took it for a drive around the city i live in.
I took a really curvy uphill road and came back takig another curvy road down the hill.
This is what i think about it:

The steering is a bit hard, you need a fair bit of force to turn the wheel which made the 1.2 tons feel really heavy.
But that's just because of the really sporty steering ratio of 13:1.
This is also the reason why you don't need to crank the wheel too much.
Actually i didn't even have to get my hands off the wheel except for shifting.

This is where i need to explain things...
But it's simple.

This is how you're supposed to hold the wheel:

Anything other than that is just wrong and will end up being exhaustive to your arms or even cause an accident.
What to do when turning, you ask? With most turns you won't need to let the wheel go, except for shifting gears of course, but this can be done after or even before the turn. If you are going through a really tight corner, you eventually will have to get one (!) of your hands off the wheel, reposition it, repeat with the other hand, all this while still cranking your wheel with the one hand which is still holding on.

The point of that is simple: Knowing how far you turned the wheel.
The steering and suspension of every car is built to make the car go straight. If you are turning and let the wheel go, it will turn to the neutral position at some point and your car will go straight again. This may be bad in some cases. For example if you are doing a left turn while there is a wall on your right side. If you let the wheel go, you may end up driving into said wall.

If you still don't believe me, feel free to check out in-car videos of rally drivers. They never let the wheel go, except in a crash.

Back to the BRZ:
I was driving very tight corners while holding the steering wheel like shown in the picture above.
Even felt like a racing driver at some point.

Of course the provided vehicle had a manual gearbox, which is awesome. Manual box means more control. In my opinion automatics aren't any good for skilled and sporty driving. If you think otherwise, good.

The gearstick is very crisp and has some serious short-shifting.
A small drawback is that it's easy to screw up while shifting. Also the whole time i wondered if i engaged the right gear, but luckily the instrument panel has a gear indicator.

The suspension is very stiff. I especially noticed that when driving over the railways of the trams which are spread across the city. I felt everything, but the overall feeling was comfortable

The seats...oh my god, those seats are genius. Once they get you, they will never let you go. They provide a really stable seating position, so you can concentrate on driving instead of trying to stay in the drivers seat.
The steering wheel can be changed in position regarding height and proximity to driver.
This is very nice, especially if you have longer legs, but don't want to make the sacrifice of having to drive around with straight arms.
Sidenote: You need less force to turn the wheel if your arms are bent than if they're straight. Also in case of a collision, bent arms will just naturally bend more while straight arms may end up breaking and/or dislocating your shoulders.
The handbrake lever is kind of in the way as it is right between the drivers seat and the gearknob, but i, for one, got used to it really fast.

The back seats, of course, are useless except for a kids seat or some stuff that you need to dive around, like your backpack or something like that.
Even an Audi TT has more room for legs than a BRZ.
Though i don't remember the back seats having any straps except for the childseat mounts.
Let's just say that your friends will hate you if they have to sit back there.

Serious Business.
The engine has a great response. If you slam the pedal it just mobilizes all available power and suddenly you're pressed into the seat. Though i had a minor "problem" with that whenever i had to stop at a redlight. When those turned green, i always pushed the pedal a tiny bit too much so i ended up doing burnout-launches all the time.
Though to my defense, the roads were wet since it was raining. I will need to check this out if the weather gets better.
The pedals are really light and have a short travel distance. Especially the clutch was really nice that way, because in combination with the really short gearstick, the shifting times were really fast.

The BRZ has a really good sounding character. I could listen to the engine revving up and down all day if i could.
Also the entertainment system was perfect. I think there was a factory installed subwoofer in the trunk which produced a really good audio experience.

So, to sum this all up:
It is a great car, which is actually impressive because of the rebel style.
If you are into driving and want to have some real fun, get yourself one of these.

You will not regret it.

Have a nice day and drive safe.

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