2017 Subaru BRZ Inazuma: Not-so-mellow Yellow

    Posted by Wheels On Edge about 2 years ago
    Simon and Garfunkel, Batman and Robin, Han and Chewie, and indeed Toyota and Subaru. There’s nothing quite like an iconic duo, and the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 should be on that list. The pair are still one of the most critically acclaimed affordable sports cars on the market – and for good reason. After five years on the market, the BRZ/86 is undergoing a mid-cycle refresh that promises more power and better handling. Subaru is highlighting those improvements in a special variant of their BRZ – the Inazuma.

    Inazuma is the Japanese word for Lightning, and like its namesake, the colour of this car is a visual shock. The Inazuma carries over some hardware improvements over the stock BRZ. Namely, SACHS performance dampers, brembo brakes and larger 17-inch wheels. But exclusive to the Inazuma is the yellow paint, blacked out badges and mirror caps and a leather and alcantara interior with yellow accents. For the 2017 refresh, Subaru refined the BRZ’s 2.0L 4-cylinder boxer engine to up the horsepower to 205. A restyled front bumper gives the car a more aggressive, wider look while also improving aerodynamics.

    Driving the BRZ Inazuma is pure pleasure. A light clutch and easy shifting 6-speed manual give the driver constant engagement. Tackling any corner with the car’s razor sharp handling lets you feel like a drift champion. The BRZ’s handling setup gives the car just enough slip to keep you happy, but not enough that it becomes scary or dangerous. Unless you turn the traction control off, of course. The electric power steering is responsive, accurate and predictable. Despite the BRZ’s tail happy nature, you can still drive it like a civilized person without any drama. But the joy and intent of the BRZ is driving pleasure. So go ahead and toss it about. It’s what it was made for.

    Although sheer power isn’t the goal with this car, the chief complaint with the BRZ/86 coupe is a lack of power. Although the engine and intake have been tweaked, you’ll only get 5 more horsepower over the former BRZ. Indeed, the BRZ still feels like it could do with more power. When accelerating on a highway on-ramp, you’ll be underwhelmed by the car’s pickup. A common suggestion is for Subaru or Toyota to turbocharge the boxer engine, but that extra power could lead to a number of other tweaks to the handling, suspension and tire setup to compensate, leading to a higher price tag.

    Inside, the BRZ Inazuma has a decidedly premium feel. Complementing the yellow exterior, the inside of the Inzauma is adorned with yellow accents on the seat and door handle, and contrast yellow stitching on areas like the dashboard, handbrake and steering wheel. Subaru fitted a new touchscreen interface for the 2017 BRZ. It is easy to use and responsive to the touch and allows users to download apps like Yelp, Best Parking and even a birdwatching app. The new touchscreen does not support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, however.

    Since their launch, the BRZ and Toyota 86 have been all about making driving fun and exciting without breaking the bank and compromising usability. While the BRZ Inazuma commands a premium over both the base BRZ and BRZ Sport-Tech, the factory improvements on the brakes and suspension, as well as the limited production numbers may help potential buyers justify it.
    Subaru BRZ Inazuma, Toyota 86

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