Cars > Driven

Subaru BRZ AT: A proper daily sports car

This attainable enthusiast toy just got better

Ready to hit the track whenever you are. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Without question, the first-generation Subaru BRZ (along with its twin, the Toyota 86) developed a solid following for about a decade. The collaboration of the two Nippon car brands was simply pure genius, and won the admiration of both enthusiasts and professional drivers.

The all-new BRZ certainly builds on that legacy. It wasn’t just a mere copy-paste of the previous iteration with a new look. Subaru applied the proven winning formula but made it better from the ground up.

If you manage to get one, please drive it outside the city to appreciate it more. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

A more rigid chassis sitting on top of a better tuned suspension and a bigger, more powerful 2.4-liter naturally aspirated boxer engine (234hp and 250Nm) positioned in the lowest possible manner (to help lower the center of gravity) are certainly the most notable changes under the fresh exterior. After driving the car for a few days in almost every possible road scenario except the track, I was more than happy to realize that a proper rear-wheel-drive sports car (other than a Miata) under P3 million still exists at a time when everyone is either going crossover/truck-crazy or electrified.

It looks just as good as it drives. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

A quick inspection of this BRZ’s exterior painted in a striking World Rally Blue Pearl finish shows a more evolved, sleeker design. It’s as if Subaru wanted a more timeless look. They certainly pulled it off, in my opinion.

The front fascia is an effortless execution of form and function. A newly designed pair of headlamps semi-outlined in LED daytime running lights flanks a somewhat smiling (but nonetheless aggressive) grille with functional air vents found on each side of the front bumper.

The sexy contours of the front continue across the expanse of the shell with side vents that relieve hot air from the front brakes to flow across the aerodynamically sculpted laterals. A subtle double-bubble roof eventually swoops down to a nicely shaped ducktail-ish spoiler. The new taillight design (that matches the look of the headlights) complements the rear with a diffuser and dual tailpipes that mimic that of the previous model. The coupe thankfully sits on bigger wheels this time (matte gunmetal multi-spoke 18-inchers shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires), nicely contrasting with the body color. Frankly, I’d keep this bad boy stock for a while.

The cockpit may be a bit too snug for bigger drivers, but it feels more premium and cozy this time around. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Though the cabin felt a tad bit cramped than the old BRZ, I must say it’s more ergonomic and comfortable. The leather seats provided my 6’ frame with perfect support and bolstering, while the use of generous Ultrasuede just elevated that sensation of comfort and being premium. The ceiling liner is even thoughtfully designed to accommodate the added bulge of a helmet for track days. Touches of red stitching and accents complete the sporty look.

EyeSight 3.0 safety tech and a better infotainment system prevent mishaps while adding to your driving enjoyment. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

This top-spec variant comes with a six-speed automatic with paddles on the tiller, a full digital driver’s cluster that’s packed with easy-to-read features for the road or the circuit, and an eight-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In fairness, audio quality is a step up. For safety, Subaru’s EyeSight 3.0 suite of tech makes the BRZ easy to drive, and adds peace of mind when traversing our chaotic roads.

Whether coursing through the congested metropolis or cruising along the expressways, adaptive cruise control with features such as lane departure and swap warning, pre-collision braking and throttle management, and a lead vehicle start alert (which comes in handy in different traffic situations) make the drive a pleasurable one. To prevent mishaps when backing up, reverse automatic braking saves the day just in case you miss something on the reverse camera.

Though we love driving stick, this automatic version still delivers smiles for miles. PHOTO BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

The purist in me would have preferred a manual gearbox, but I must commend Subaru on how much joy this automatic variant delivered on the open road. The moment I freed myself from all the road clutter of the city, the BRZ made me realize why it was worth the wait.

A punchier boxer engine with a more linear power band is certainly our favorite improvement. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Gone are the torque dips across the power band of old. As a seasoned driver, I had a huge smile on my face when I opened up the throttle to experience nothing but satisfying linear power accompanied by a throatier engine rumble. Switching to Sport elevated the drive to something more suited for the track or winding roads, wherein the gears held on longer with higher revs before upshifting (which also helps improve grip around bends). Despite being automatic, it was quite engaging to toggle through the gears with the paddles when I flicked the shifter to manual mode.

Acceleration runs basically matched what was on paper (0-100km/h in under seven seconds), but the magic was in the driving dynamics. If cleaner lap runs are your goal, the BRZ will definitely not disappoint. The feel is certainly for a more mature driver with better calibrated suspension working with a Torsen LSD, but allows room for a bit of drifting fun when desired. Furthermore, braking power nicely matches the car’s performance.

We definitely don't mind making this a daily-driver. PHOTOS BY MANSKEE NASCIMENTO

Honestly, you don’t need flowery words to describe the BRZ’s on-road character. The car actually speaks to you. It’s like the connection you find from a handful of really good sports cars from the last three decades, just with a bit more tech and evolved engineering. If a Porsche is something you desire, but doesn’t come close to your financial reach, the new BRZ should definitely be on the top of your list.

With the next era of mobility seemingly coming faster than an electric car could sprint, it’s totally gratifying to get one’s hands on a proper, attainable sports car such as this—one you can enjoy on a daily basis sans the backaches. The only problem is if you can have the patience to wait for units to arrive.


Engine2.4-liter naturally aspirated boxer gasoline
Transmission6-speed automatic
Power234hp @ 7,000rpm
Torque250Nm @ 3,700rpm
Dimensions4,265mm x 1,775mm x 1,310mm
Drive layoutRWD
UpsideAttainability, linear power delivery, great balance, superb handling, responsive steering, and oodles of safety tech.
DownsideLow allocation. Purists will likely prefer a manual transmission. And limited storage space.

Manskee Nascimento

Manskee is a music-loving petrolhead who specializes in car care. He finds peace in long drives to and from his home in La Union.