SUBARU Australia will sell its keenly anticipated BRZ rear-drive sports coupe on the internet in a first-in, best-dressed online sale of its 2012 allocation of vehicles starting at high noon this Monday, July 16.
The online sales process is a response to the small 201-vehicle allocation promised to Subaru Australia this year, leaving the company without sufficient vehicles to sell in the usual fashion through its 103 dealers.
Toyota Australia is expecting about six times that of its matching 86 under the lopsided global deal done when the two Japanese car companies agreed to jointly develop the pure-bred sports coupe.
Out of the 201 BRZs arriving over the next six months, 60 are earmarked for dealer demonstrator duties, about 28 more are already pre-sold and one is set for Subaru's own collection, leaving fewer than 120 for online buyers.
Last month, Toyota sold 414 of the 86 coupes in the car’s first month on the market, and reckons it can sell 1200 this year.
While Toyota offers the 86 in two specification levels, Subaru will sell just one BRZ model with an equipment level just short of the Toyota 86 GTS – the premium Toyota variant that arrived on the Australian market last month at $35,490 (plus on-road costs).
The BRZ will be launched with a driveaway pricing deal of $37,150 for the six-speed manual and $39,730 for the six-speed automatic – a $1760 premium over the list price of the Toyota 86 GTS.
However, when on-road costs of about $3500 are added to the Toyota version, the price touches $39,900 for the 86 GTS manual.
The Subaru misses out on the Toyota 86 GTS’s standard leather and Alcantara seats, satellite navigation and Suna traffic updates, but it gains free three-year, 60,000km servicing, along with pre-paid delivery and statutory charges.
Subaru is not planning to match Toyota’s more utilitarian 86 GT, which hit the market with a bang last month at a lower-than-expected list price of $29,990 (plus ORCs).
Only 60 selected Subaru dealers will carry a demonstrator, but buyers will need to book on the Subaru website to get a drive.
The BRZ breaks the all-wheel-drive-only policy held high by Subaru Australia for several years, becoming the only two-wheel-drive Subaru in the current local range.
The entire retail sales transaction for the boxer-engine 2+2 BRZ will be completed by buyers on the Subaru website in a five-step process.
The company’s managing director, Nick Senior, said high demand and short supply of BRZ posed a challenge for Subaru on how to best handle sales.
He said the online initiative offered “a fantastic level of transparency for BRZ customers, which is in line with our ‘All 4 the Driver’ customer commitment”.
“They will know exactly what the price is going to be and vehicle availability,” he said.
“They can choose their delivering dealership and can even arrange a trade-in valuation.
“This may well be a world-first in terms of being able to complete the entire new-car purchase process online.”
Mr Senior said Subaru had appointed a BRZ coordinator to be a dedicated point of contact for BRZ customers.
“Our aim is to provide an exclusive experience,” he said. “Every BRZ we sell will be numbered and customers will be able to log on and receive updates on the status of their BRZ.”
The BRZ is armed with an identical powertrain to the Toyota 86, including a jointly developed 2.0-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine based on the unit from the Subaru Impreza but with Toyota-developed D-4S dual injection, with direct and port injectors, and variable valve control.
The high-compression engine runs on high-octane 98 RON petrol and pumps out 147kW of power at 7000rpm and 205Nm of torque over a narrow 6400-6600rpm, equipping the BRZ for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.6 seconds and a 226km/h top speed.
The auto-equipped models are slower in both the sprint (by 0.6 seconds) and top speed (210km/h).
Claimed average combined fuel consumption is 7.1 litres per 100km for the auto and 7.8L/100km for the manual, with emissions of 166 and 181 grams per kilometre respectively.
The flat-four engine is slung low in the engine bay to provide a low 460mm centre of gravity, while also being pushed back towards the firewall to provide a more optimal weight distribution of 53/47 between the front and rear.
While all major panels are common with the Toyota 86, which is built on the same Subaru production line in Japan, the BRZ gets its own signature Subaru hexagonal grille, unique 17-inch alloy wheels (with 215/45 Michelin Pilot Primacy tyres) and other touches to set it apart from its twin.
Like the 86 GTS, the BRZ gets a Torsen limited-slip differential to aid traction, along with electric-assisted rack-and-pinion power steering with the electric motor located within the steering column.
Front suspension is MacPherson strut, while the double-wishbone rear suspension has been poached from the WRX STI.
Seven airbags contribute to a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating that was announced with fanfare yesterday.
Stopping power is provided by 294mm front brake discs and 290mm discs at the rear.
Inside, the BRZ’s interior can be upgraded for $1500, gaining heated sports seats cloaked in a mix of black leather and suede-like Alcantara, finished with contrasting red stitching.
That stitching theme is carried around the cabin in the leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, gearknob and trim, all of which are standard.
A full-size alloy spare wheel is standard in the boot, which can be expanded by folding down the single-piece rear seat.
A tacho takes pride of place in the instrument binnacle, with a small speedo to the left and fuel and temperature gauges to the right.
Cars equipped with the automatic transmission get shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Each BRZ gets a numbered plaque on the console, next to three driving mode buttons that allow the driver to turn off the traction control system or ESC or both, for a bit of tail-sliding action.
Standard equipment includes smart-key entry and start, cruise control, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, iPod control and Bluetooth streaming, alloy pedals, telescopic steering wheel adjustment and height-adjustable driver’s seat.