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Subaru confirms BRZ coupe for Australia

Due Down Under: All-new BRZ sportscar will hit Aussie dealerships within six months.

Sleek BRZ locked in for local release as Subaru capitulates to overwhelming demand

Subaru logo19 Dec 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

SUBARU has become a bearer of welcome gifts less than a week before Christmas by announcing it will introduce the all-new BRZ sports coupe in Australia next year.

The sleek new rear-wheel drive two-door, which will go head to head with Toyota’s mechanically identical 86 coupe from June, had until now not been formally confirmed for local release because it goes against Subaru Australia’s AWD-only model strategy, which precludes a range of front-drive models from being sold here.

However, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said overwhelming demand from customers and dealers outweighed the fact the BRZ does not fit with his company’s ‘All 4 the Driver’ brand slogan.

“We have been an exclusively all-wheel drive car company since 1997, so the decision to import the Subaru BRZ was not taken lightly,” said Mr Senior, who revealed that at least one example has already been sold here even in the absence of local pricing and specifications.

“However, several factors swayed our decision – the passion and persuasion of the FHI (Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries) engineers involved in the project was telling.

“They have poured their DNA into this car, so it drives like a Subaru. And because it is built in our spiritual home in Gunma prefecture, it has to be a Subaru.

“It’s a driver’s car, so is in keeping with our fun to drive philosophy.

“Secondly, the testing and development we have undertaken for the Australian market has left me in no doubt that this is a Subaru specifically for our unique Australian conditions.

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“Thirdly, we have been overwhelmed by the response to the BRZ since its unveiling in Tokyo. People have been pleading for us to bring the BRZ into the country.

“Dealers have been astonished at the level of interest. Indeed the first BRZ has already been sold in Adelaide, despite no pricing or specification being released.” The announcement, which comes as promised in the third week of December, will come as a relief to those that expected Subaru Australia not to import the BRZ in the face of Toyota’s formidable marketing machine, which is yet to announce Australian pricing for the 86 but previously said it would open at under $35,000.

The BRZ will also give Subaru - which will launch the all-new XV compact crossover here in January, followed by its new-generation Impreza small sedan and hatch in March – a brand-new sportscar in lieu of redesigned WRX and STI models, which for the first time will not be based on the Impreza but could still be two years away.

As we reported when we drove a pre-production version in Japan earlier this month, the BRZ was co-developed with Toyota, which owns 16 per cent of the smaller Japanese car-maker, and is identical in many respects.

Engineers at the event told GoAuto that the BRZ employs different springs and dampers to the 86 in order to better appeal to Subaru customers, with Subaru’s deputy general manager for corporate communications Masashi Uemura saying development focussed on “making sure the car is very stable, with good handling and feeling confident to drive”.

“Every (Subaru) should be very stable and give peace of mind. That is the differentiation,” he said.

Both the BRZ and 86 are based on a new Impreza-inspired platform and powered by the latest version of Subaru’s trademark ‘boxer’ (flat-four) engine, fitted with Toyota’s direct and port-injection induction system.

The new 2.0-litre engine is a higher-revving (7400rpm redline) version of the FB unit that is already seen in the Forester and will power the new Impreza and XV next year. It is positioned 120mm lower and 240mm further back than in the new Impreza, contributing to 53/47 per cent front/rear weight distribution.

As such, both cars also feature a centre of gravity as low as 460mm, bettering some of the world’s most popular sportscars including the Mazda MX-5, RX-8, BMW M3, Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI.

Product planning and styling was undertaken by Toyota, while Subaru was responsible for engineering, development and production of both models, the interiors of which feature many Subaru hallmarks.

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