The Albino Rhino BRZ
That’s right folks, its official name is the Albino Rhino, and little did we know that the name would actually be very fitting for the little car. After getting a chance to put about 40 miles on the car today I wanted to go over some of my initial impressions as well as the impressions of the other guys here at RSD. When you get in the car, the first thing that comes to mind is how much the interior does not feel like a Subaru, and I for one actually like this. It feels like you are in an actual cockpit with the driver in mind, even though the dash is not wrapped around you, it sure feels like it is, the door panel sits very high which gives you the impression that you are sitting very low in the car. Which might make sense as you actually are sitting very low compared to most cars on the road, but unlike other cars with very low seat positions, your legs still have plenty of room, and it does not feel like your legs are stretched out in front of you and on the floor.
Everything you touch on a day to day basis on the car feels great, the steering wheel is nice and chunky and has a proper feel in your hands, the shift knob and shift lever are in a great position and feel solid and shifting feels notchy and the distance between gears is nice and short. It no longer feels like you have a mile of rubber bands between the transmission and the shift lever, and feels more like the shift lever goes directly in the transmission. It gives me the impression that Toyota was allowed to run with the gearbox, as it feels more like the manual transmission Toyota/Lexus cars I have driven and not anything like a Subaru gear box.
The handling on this car is where it really stood out to me, it is rare to drive a car that is very comfortable yet firm, but will still hold its own when you really throw it into a corner. When pushing the limits though the corners, the tires would hiss like an angry cat, but still provided good feedback even though they felt as if they were folding over on themselves. Steering is crisp if a bit on the heavy side. Some of the guys here loved that, and some said it made the front end feel a bit too heavy. I thought it was a huge improvement over the previous Subaru chassis, but still was not quite as sharp as I hoped it would be. The handling is where it reminded me that we chose the correct name for the car, as it does not feel as nimble and light as you might expect, but it does have great grip and is very sure footed through even the roughest of corners, the tires stay planted to the road, and the torsen LSD keeps the one tire fire at bay. A mechanical LSD would be ideal, but this stock unit is whisper quiet and actually pretty effective when pushing the car through the twisties. Body roll is there, and you can really feel it when you throw the car into a tight corner, but does not feel like it takes away from the driving experience or the handling, and all in all it feels very well set up and balanced.
All and all I would say the car is great right out of the box, I feel that because I followed the car even since it was only a rumor, I expected too much out of it. I was hoping it would be more raw and more focused, more responsive and more nimble. However once I got over the initial disappointment that this 25K car did not live up to my 100K expectation, I was nothing but happy with the little rhino. It’s cute, it’s fun, it will make you smile throwing it into corners, and overall the car is a great “sporty” car. I would not go as far as calling it a sport car, as I would put M3’s, Porsche’s and the like in that category. But coming from a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota, it is a step in the right direction and I think they did a stellar job on this project. I for one would be proud to own any BRZ/FR-S/FT-86, and can’t wait to see how they tweak the car in future models.
I would like to put more miles on the car before getting into any recommendations in regards to modifications, but right out of the box I feel the car would benefit greatly from new performance tires and swaybars. Everything else actually feels really good to me, but that could be due to the stock tires somewhat masking the other areas of the cars that may need attention. We will keep you up to date on the modifications and our impressions of installed parts as well so stay tuned.