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2019 Subaru BRZ tS long-term review: Introduction

By Scott Newman, 16 Mar 2019 Reviews

2019 Subaru BRZ tS long-term review: Introduction

BRZ tS joins the MOTOR garage for an extended stay

This isn’t your typical long-term test. We’ve dedicated enough words to the Toybaru twins in this magazine, including an 86 long-termer a couple of years back, that most readers should have a pretty good handle on what they’re like to drive. As such, this introduction will be the only time we’ll discuss the on-road behaviour and day-to-day liveability of our new 2019 Subaru BRZ tS.

The reason for this is that each successive update will cover a different motorsport discipline. It’s getting more and more difficult to enjoy performance cars – and driving in general – on the public road. Even a car like the BRZ, which definitely sits towards the more leisurely end of the performance spectrum, can easily find itself in contravention of the law when driven enthusiastically.

The easiest way to avoid any trouble with the constabulary is to take it off the streets. Every weekend around Australia there are dozens, if not hundreds, of club-level motorsport events catering to virtually every taste and budget. Over the next few months we’ll hopefully bring a few to your attention and assess their viability for those of you whose financial reserves struggle to match their enthusiasm.

But first, the BRZ. We chose the Subaru because it’s – hopefully – the perfect car to answer the question we’re asking: can you compete in a variety of weekend motorsport events with a stock-standard car without spending a massive amount of money? The tS variant could’ve been tailor-made for this test. 

A standard BRZ or 86 is already a very enjoyable package, but the brakes can be a bit marginal on some tracks and the standard Michelin Primacy tyres are crap. In fact, in researching this assignment, we discovered some events ban the use of the standard low-grip Toybaru tyres due to the racket they make under hard use.

BFYB 2018: BRZ tS track review

The tS overcomes this with Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres wrapped around 18-inch wheels, while adding Sachs dampers, STI springs, body bracing and plenty of cosmetic garnish like a rear spoiler, red seat belts and the like.

It costs $39,894 as a manual and $41,894 as an auto, $5904 and $4404 more than the standard and Premium grade BRZs respectively.

Testing duties have kept me out of the BRZ’s driver’s seat more than I’d like, which suits the other MOTOR-heads just fine – it’s never difficult to find a taker for the Subie’s keys at day’s end. This has actually been beneficial as the tS arrived with just 45km on the clock, not ideal for a car that’s going to be used enthusiastically over its life with us.

The BRZ makes driving fun. Any driving. The steering wheel is set lower than I remember but the driving position is otherwise excellent with pedals perfectly placed for heel-toe downshifts – just the thing to liven up a dull commute. The gearshift is a bit notchy, hopefully it frees up with time, the ride is firm but fine and the steering just superb. Seven years on, this is still one of the better EPAS systems around.You can easily notice the extra tyre grip, too.

The biggest downer is the engine. There’s a massive dip in the torque curve between 3500-5000rpm, just where you spend most of your time in day-to-day driving. Whether the BRZ’s relative lack of grunt – it’s not that slow, but it feels slower than it is – counts against it on track will probably depend on the track we choose, but more on that in a future update. 

Still, the aim of this is to improve the bit behind the wheel, not the bit under the bonnet. See you next month, when we end up feeling a bit dusty. 

No short flings on MOTOR long-term reviews

Follow our journey with our Subaru BRZ tS Long Termer: 
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

2019 Subaru BRZ tS Pros & Cons

Three things that excite us:
1 - RWD! RWD! RWD!
2 - Durability
3 - Learning skills

Three potential concerns:
1 - Too slow?
2 - Too much grip?
3 - Others taking it