A BRZ for Christmas

Subaru NZ has announced a local launch date for the rear-drive BRZ coupe that will see a select few enjoying an early Christmas present this year. Subaru NZ will attempt to generate some buzz around its version of the Toyota/Subaru joint project by initially launching with a special run of 12 cars on the 12th day of the 12th month of this year, 2012.

The first 12 owners will get a "special experience" with their purchase including a day on the track with driver instruction from Emma Gilmour while each car will wear a personalised number plate.

The new rear-drive BRZ Coupe poses a challenge for Subaru NZ's marketing team due to the fact that for the last 15 years all Subarus in New Zealand have been sold on the benefits of "symmetrical all-wheel drive".

But as Subaru NZ MD Wal Dumper said at a small gathering at Subaru HQ, "If we were going to make an exception to the rule, it needed to be a great car, not some shopping basket." And so after driving it, Dumper decided Subaru would indeed offer the car here in New Zealand.

It can be had with both a six-speed manual or auto, and Dumper expects that most of the first 12 buyers will be enthusiasts who will opt for the manual. 

So how do you get yourself in the line, you ask?

You can "register your interest" on Subaru New Zealand's website later in the month, which will allow potential buyers to start negotiations with their local dealership.  

And the price? Dumper says there will be indicative pricing listed on the website, though the actual RRP has not yet been negotiated with the factory. Something starting with a "five" would be most likely, which would see it sit above the WRX but below the STI. It's possible people will be willing to pay extra to get their hands on one of the first cars. 

The new BRZ, a co-development with Toyota, which has a 16.7 per cent stake in Subaru (though Subaru performed most of the engineering work), features a 2.0 litre, flat-four engine specially developed for the rear-drive coupe which produces 147kW and 205Nm of torque. The car is pretty compact, with an overall length of 4240mm, while its height and width measure 1300mm and 1775mm respectively. It's claimed to weigh in at 1220kg.

Though we didn't get to drive the new car, a pre-production car was available to inspect at least, on loan from Japan before making its way to Australia. It's a spunky little machine, and though it has a 2+2 seating arrangement, the rear seats are best for (small) kids. There's a reasonable boot too, but the most important aspect is the cockpit, which has everything "just to hand" including the handbrake, situated close to the driver to initiate the odd handbrake-induced slide on track, no doubt.

Can't wait to drive it. Stay tuned for a full appraisal. 

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