IT’S the car with a cult following. Its owners obsessed with making unique changes to their ride. And it’s new performance version, the tS, comes loaded with sharper handling, a more linear response from driver actions, and an improved ride.
The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS comes with one other thing too, a grin from ear-to-ear every time you tramp the accelerator. It’s the affordable sports car that’s fun to drive, and now it looks cooler than it did before.
Think of the 2018 Subaru BRZ tS as the ‘almost’ STi version of an STi, if there was an actual STi version of the BRZ. If there was, it would hopefully have the same 2.5-litre turbo boosted power plant of the WRX STi, but alas, it doesn’t.
That said, it’s the hottest factory BRZ on the road, and the tS has a lot to offer, including dual exhausts, sports bucket seats, 18-inch black alloy wheels, red Brembo brake calipers and SACHS suspension.
It’s got STi badges aplenty, and thanks to the black and red leather interior, coupled with stitched-in tS badging on the seats, it has a real unique feel to it. Add in the GTS style rear wing on the boot lid and it’s instantly recognisable as having a performance bent.
It comes standard as a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto (we had the manual), and the gearbox certainly holds its own with easy short throws giving that race car feel to your driving experience.
It does feel a little lazy if you don’t feed your boot into the accelerator, but that factor has been vastly improved over previous incarnations of the humble BRZ. Every model in the range shares the same engine though, so there’s no power advantage in the tS.
From the base model BRZ to the tS, all variants share a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine, offering a combination of port and direct injection, and producing 152kW of power and 212Nm of torque (in manual form), or 147kW/205Nm for the auto.
They all share the same 50-litre fuel tank too. But the value in the tS lies in the extra bits it gets. Things like Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber, bigger wheels, better brakes, that SACHS suspension we mentioned. That extra sexy interior, and the unique STi styling queues.
It comes with the new third generation 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, including a six-speaker sound system, and satellite navigation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
It’s a very practical interior, with some excellent touches. The seats are trimmed in Alcantara leather, there’s grand luxe door panel trim and dashboard highlights, and an exclusive steering wheel – black with red accent and STi logo.
There’s also red seat belts and a push button starter with STi logo (with the logo also on the instrument cluster). It’s got the parcel shelf level rear seating we know and love from previous BRZ and Toyota 86 models (its sort-of twin sister).
That part hasn’t changed, which still makes it not completely family friendly, and keeps it in the realms of the single person, young couple buyer market. We say that knowing our 6-year-old rear seat tester liked the back seats but complained about leg room.
There is literally no room to sit in the back seats as an adult, you’ll end up with your head tilted and your knees in your chest, and if the front passengers are 6-foot tall, just don’t even bother trying, it’s game over.
From a safety perspective though, the 2018 BRZ tS has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and comes with a vehicle dynamics control system that includes ESC, ABS, EBD, brake assist and traction control.
It also gets hill start assist (very handy in the manual), and a rear view camera. multiple airbags, two anchor points for child seats, two ISOFIX anchor points, cruise control and electronic throttle control.
The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS hits can be driven out of the showroom for $43,000 or thereabouts, drive-away, and comes in Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Pure Red (our test vehicle), WR Blue Pearl, and Lapis Blue Pearl.
You can also grab one in Dark Grey Metallic or Crystal Black Silica. A styling pack that adds front and side under body spoilers and a rear under body diffuser is also available as an optional accessory.
Our 2018 Subaru BRZ tS was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more, contact your local Subaru dealer.