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Facelifted Subaru BRZ emerges

Point to point out: Despite only modest power and torque increases, a beefed-up chassis, suspension upgrades and a tweaked diff ratio promise to make the Subaru BRZ even quicker cross-country.

Handling upgrades headline otherwise subtle mid-life update for Subaru BRZ coupe

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Subaru logo27 May 2016

SUBARU will launch a facelifted BRZ sportscar in Australia around October this year, majoring on chassis upgrades to go with the all-LED headlights, styling tweaks, improved interior technology and a small increase in engine output.

Official front and interior images of the updated BRZ coupe were released in the United States overnight, revealing a subtler makeover than was wrought by Toyota on its version, the 86, which was unveiled in updated form at the New York motor show in March.

But Subaru has disclosed that more significant changes have taken place under the skin of the BRZ compared with its co-developed cousin, with more chassis rigidity courtesy of beefed-up bracing between the suspension struts, transmission cross-member and rear wheel housings.

Subaru has also added a fatter rear anti-roll bar and fitted retuned springs and dampers, with the handling updates overall deemed extensive enough to rename the Sport mode (as seen on the current model) to Track mode.

North American customers will be able to take things even further with a factory ‘performance package’ comprising Sachs performance dampers and bigger brake rotors clamped by Brembo callipers behind unique black-painted, wider 17-inch alloy wheels.

Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley told GoAuto it was too early to confirm whether the performance package upgrades would be available Down Under. He added that pricing and specifications would be announced closer to the fourth-quarter launch date.

As with the Toyota, the much-requested but long-denied turbo or supercharger option remains omitted from the BRZ spec-sheet, but a small power and torque increase of 4kW and 9Nm has been liberated from the 2.0-litre boxer engine through the use of a better-breathing aluminium intake manifold and redesigned exhaust headers, bringing the total to 151kW and 214Nm.

It should be noted, though, that the power boost is only quoted for the manual BRZ, on which livelier performance and swifter acceleration should be assured by a new, lower 4.3:1 final drive ratio in the Torsen limited-slip differential.

The addition of hill-start assist will also help avoid embarrassing clutch-fluffing rollbacks.

Externally, Subaru has retained the BRZ’s grille shape but the faux air intakes at the edges of the front bumper have been redesigned and the lower fascia has been reprofiled. The vent-like details behind the front wheelarches have also been refreshed.

The most striking difference is the new headlights, which retain the original shape but include bolder C-shape daytime running light graphics and the visible arrays of LEDs provide a more modern, hi-tech look.

No rear images of the updated BRZ have yet emerged, but a new pedestal-style aluminium boot spoiler can be seen and is claimed by Subaru to increase downforce for “improved stability and control”.

The company also says the tail-lights have been upgraded to LED clusters and describes a new boot trim above the numberplate recess. Facelifted BRZs will also carry a new 10-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheel design.

Inside, the updated instrument panel gains an upholstered cowling and a 4.2-inch multifunction display with lap timer and telemetry including G-meter, accelerator pedal position, braking force and steering angle plus ‘health-check’ data including battery voltage, engine oil and coolant temperatures.

It is controlled via a redesigned leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, which also has firmer padding than the item than it replaces. Other interior updates include a revised climate-control panel and BRZ embroidery on the front seats.

The interior technology upgrade continues with a better-integrated infotainment system with 6.2-inch touchscreen providing access to smartphone integration with app functionality, Bluetooth streaming and the reversing camera.

Despite repeated denials that a turbocharged engine option is viable for the BRZ and 86 twins, Subaru performance skunkworks STI unveiled a potentially suitable force-fed engine and pumped-up BRZ concept car at the 2015 New York show.

There is no word on a Subaru version of the Australian-penned Toyota 86 Shooting Brake concept unveiled earlier this month.

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