Subaru’s BRZ is screaming out of Japanese showrooms, driving enthusiasts literally queuing up to buy the brand’s compact coupe: in the seven weeks following its February domestic launch, over 3 500 cars were sold, demand outstripping sales forecasts by a ratio of four to one.
The net effect of this happy state of affairs is that there is limited stock for international markets, a situation which is going to impact on Subaru Southern Africa (SSA). Adding to the tight supply is that the vast majority of output from Subaru’s Gunma production facility will go towards the Toyota 86, which is built on the BRZ platform and also relies on Subaru for most drivetrain components.
Final launch timing for SA is still to be confirmed, as Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), ramps up production but expect the BRZ to start hitting local Subaru dealerships from the fourth quarter of 2012.
SSA’s Marketing Team Leader Ashley Lazarus, has given his reassurance that it will be worth waiting for and the BRZ will not only have its own visual persona, but will also offer a highly-focussed driving experience, designed to appeal to the purist.
“Stability and balance have always been core Subaru values and they will definitely get plenty of this in the BRZ,” says Ashley. “Handling integrity is critical and as a result we’ve opted for – when compared to the Toyota 86 – firmer suspension settings and other refinements to provide razor-sharp handling, giving the BRZ a very distinct feel. It’ll be perfectly at home in the track day environment, yet still feel brilliant on roads that keen drivers dream about. ”
Another distinction will be Subaru’s trademark World Rally Blue Mica bespoke colour, presently making up a third of all BRZ sales in Japan.
The BRZ will also be something of a first for SSA, being the first Subaru sold locally to be two-wheel-drive, feeding as it does torque to the wishbone-suspended rear axle via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
Subaru has overseen engineering, research and development, and testing on the BRZ/86 project and has provided the 2.0-litre normally-aspirated FA-generation Boxer engine, now fettled with direct fuel injection to provide 147 kW and 205 Nm. An exceptionally low centre of gravity (thanks to the horizontally-opposed engine), compact dimensions (the wheelbase is just 2 570 mm), and a modest kerb mass (by virtue of features such as an aluminium bonnet) make this a highly responsive car in all respects, in line with the product concept of ‘Pure Handling Delight’.
Subaru Southern Africa’s local engineering team is in the process of running local validation testing, including assessing aspects such as performance at altitude and fuel suitability, on pilot units. Based on these results, model specifications and pricing will be finalised and announced later this year. A number of further production units have been secured for a press launch early in the second half.
“Every detail of the BRZ has been honed with driving enjoyment in mind, and the overall experience will be pure Subaru,” concludes Ashley. “Test reviews by the international media thus far reveal the BRZ driving experience to be one of absolute delight and grin-inducing thrills, with some going as far as to say that it is the best sports car to come out of Japan since the Honda NSX. We know the Subaru faithful are champing at the bit, as are our dealers, and we will be doing everything in our power to get cars here as soon as possible. Who knows, some buyers may even get one as an early Christmas present!”