The year was 1965 when Toyota introduced the Toyota Sports 800. A lightweight, small, 2-seater sports car. 2 years after that, they gave use the Toyota 2000GT, which changed how the way the world viewed Japanese cars. Of course, the Toyota AE86 needs no introduction. Fast forward to 2012, Toyota (Along with Subaru) gave us the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ twin, the successor to all the above cars.
I bought my car in January 2018, which is the 2013 World Rally Blue Subaru BRZ Type S or Limited (depending on which region you are in), with manual transmission. I bought it at RM128,000, not inclusive of road tax and insurance. Mileage clocked was around 30,000km, which is pretty good considering it was a 5-year-old car.
Reason Why I Bought This Car
In 2012, when UMW Toyota launched the Toyota 86, I was involved in the launch event. The event also doubled as a media drive at the South track of Sepang International Circuit. I had the opportunity to drive the car and as I did, I thought to myself, “Oh man! This car feels good to drive." From then on, I actually aimed to buy the car and managed to do so in 2018.
What drove me to aim to buy it? Something the chief engineer of the Toyota 86 said sums it up very well. It was the driving feeling that the car provided. I was also lucky enough to be able to meet Tada-san and sit in during the press conference of the launch to hear what he had to say.
“For the 86 we didn’t set up any numerical targets like lap times or acceleration, We had one test driver, and after each set of tests, the only thing we’d ask was, ‘did you enjoy it’? Of course he said ‘yes’ every time. The most important thing for me was - well, we say it like this: you must have a smile behind the wheel.”
At 200PS and 205Nm, there have been troughs of comments about the Toyota 86 needing more power etc. But it was enough for me, even though my previous car had 320bhp and 435Nm. Mainly it’s because the 86 platform is so communicative that I am able to enjoy the car even when I need to push it to it’s limit. In my previous car I probably use 2/10th or at maximum 6/10th. But with the 86, I am able to enjoy it to 10/10th. I dare say at it’s price point, no modern car comes close to giving the feel and pleasure that the 86 can give. I would even call it a poor man’s Porsche.
If you realised, I have been talking about the Toyota 86, but the car that I bought is a Subaru BRZ. So why did I purchase a Subaru BRZ instead of a Toyota 86? The reason is very simple. I fell in love with the World Rally Blue colour of the BRZ. The WR Blue is unique to Subaru just as the Orange Metallic is unique to the Toyota 86. To be honest, I did not have a preference as to whether to get the Toyota or Subaru because essentially, they are the same car. Parts are interchangeable, from the exterior to interior and even engine parts.
When I walked into the recon dealer, I was actually looking at the Toyota 86. They had a White, Red and Black colour available. But out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the WR Blue BRZ. I asked if it was for sale, took it for a test drive, did the necessary checks, and the rest as they say is history.
Having owned the BRZ close to 3 years now, I can say I have no regrets buying the car. Of course, it has its downside like being a 2+2 seater the back seat is practically useless. But I don’t fetch more than 1 passenger at a time, so the back seat is my parcel shelf. It is also a good excuse to get your friends to fetch you when you need to go out as a group. Funny story is that when purchasing the BRZ, I thought I would be driving my Proton Wira daily and the BRZ on the weekend. But after purchasing the BRZ, I never touched my Wira that it became so neglected I eventually sold the Wira.
Within 2 years I have more than doubled the original recon mileage of 30,000km. As of writing of this article, my odometer reads 78,576km. I have taken the BRZ on numerous road trips to Johor Bahru, Penang, Kuantan and even all the way to Phuket. Since we are on the topic of road trips, let’s talk about fuel consumption. I average around 10 to 11 km/l, which to me it is very decent. Of course, it can’t match the modern turbocharged cars of today. But I have no complains as I enjoy every moment of driving the car. In my line of work, I am lucky enough to be able to drive and sample a lot of different car, but each time I drive back my BRZ, it still puts a smile on my face.
Other than driving it daily, I do hit the track once a while. And having done so made me realise what upgrades I needed to make to the BRZ. I will detail them as below
- AP Racing 4pot brake kit – the original brakes on the BRZ was not sufficient in dispersing heat during track sessions. It is perfectly fine for daily drives, just not for track
- Shorter final drive ratio from 4.1 to 4.5 – this improves the acceleration of the BRZ as below 4000rpm the car feels a bit sluggish
- Equal length exhaust headers – a very standard aftermarket mod for the 86/BRZ
- Custom muffler/catback – the aftermarket muffler which came with the recon car was too loud for my liking so I custom a muffler which is quieter
- Lightened crank pulley – for a quicker acceleration
- Aftermarket rims – I maintained the 17” size but put on wider offset rims as I like the wheels to be flushed with the car body.
- Aftermarket 2 in 1 radiator + oil cooler – just to provide better cooling
- Toyota 86 Face Lift front bumper – the original BRZ bumper was sagging and one of the clip hole was broken. The 86 face lift bumper provides better cooling
- TOM’s V1 tail lights – just to match the C-shape lights of the BRZ front lights
- Carbon fiber wing mirror cover
- Carbon fiber fender garnish
- Carbon fiber duck tail
Now let’s talk about the downsides of the car as it’s legendary good points are well documented in the reviews you read everywhere. I do have several complains about my BRZ and it’s not about power (I know I know, some of my mods are power-oriented). My major complaint would be NVH. The 86/BRZ gets noisy and I mean NOISY. If you are using performance tires like I do, tire roar can get LOUD to the point that I thought my wheel bearing was spoiled. The roof is rather tin and lack of sound insulation because when it rains, you can hear every single drop. Surprisingly wind noise is not very apparent (could be thanks to it’s aerodynamic design), just have to make sure you take care of the window sill rubber well. There’s random rattling the squeaking coming from my back seat and behind the dashboard. I have solved the rattling from the backseat by wrapping tape of over the backseat catch, but the sound from behind the dashboard remains a mystery.
How do I solve all this? I just turn the radio volume higher. Gao Dim!
Oh, another complaint I have would be the boot. Not so much about the space as I don’t carry a lot of stuff but more on the opening of the boot. Thanks to the design of the lights, it encroaches on to the opening of the boot and makes it small.
Pros and Cons
To sum it up, here are the pros and cons
- Fun to drive 😊
- Fun to drive 😊
- Fun to drive 😊
- Fun to drive 😊
- Fun to drive 😊
- It’s essentially a 2 seater. The rear seats are just for kids
- It’s low, hence getting in and out can be a chore sometimes
- Small boot opening
- Total Score 4.5/5
- Performance 4.5/5
- Quality & Features 2.5/5
- Space 2/5
- Ride Comfort 3.5/5
- Fuel Economy 4/5
- Price & Cost 4/5
If you are looking for a car with an amazing platform whether to learn about car control or just to enjoy driving, go for it. No other modern car at this price point will give you the same feeling. If you are looking for power, space, comfort, features, power, torque, power, big boot, power, please DO NOT buy the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ