Category Archives: 2013 Subaru

XV Crosstrek

On April 4th, the US production version of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek™ made its debut at the New York International Auto show.

The XV Crosstrek™ is a right-sized crossover for all of life’s adventures. With its 8.7″ ground clearance, 17-inch all-season tires, and integrated roof rails, it looks like it’s ready for anything. And with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, 33 MPG* hwy and SUBARU BOXER® engine, it is.

The New York International Auto Show is open to the public from April 6-15. If you’re in the area, come by and see the XV Crosstrek™ on display at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

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Aha Radio partners with Subaru, brings social media to 2013 vehicles – Mid Hudson Subaru

At last year’s CES, Aha Radio brought its hyper-connected social media ways to two high-end Pioneer head units. This year, however, the service is about to make a bigger splash by announcing it’ll be built into select 2013 Subaru and Honda vehicles. Equipped autos will have access to “thousands of personalized, web-enabled stations” like MOGRhapsody and Slacker, appearing as a selectable source alongside more traditional AM, FM and satellite radio options. And naturally it’ll integrate with Aha’s iPhone and Android apps. If a new vehicle isn’t to your liking, Kenwood will also start integrating the service into head units later in 2012. We’ll get hands-on with the above system in a Subaru’s new BRZ soon

Aha Advances Driver Connectivity
With Web-Connected “Fourth Band” of Radio

Subaru and Kenwood join Pioneer in integrating with Aha’s Cloud-based Infotainment Platform that Now Includes Tens of Thousands of Stations of Web Content

Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Las Vegas, NV – January 10, 2012 – AhaTM by HARMAN, an interactive platform that makes web content safe for drivers today announced new automotive and content partnerships that will bring web-connected infotainment safely to millions of drivers, right through the radio. Honda and Subaru are currently working with Aha to integrate with the Aha platform starting with model year 2013 vehicles. Kenwood has also announced that it will begin shipping Aha-integrated aftermarket head units this Spring. Honda, Subaru and Kenwood customers will be able to access all of Aha’s stations right from the car’s infotainment system. Aha also announced partnerships with top content providers to expand Aha’s platform to tens of thousands of personalized, web-enabled stations that cover everything from music, news and social streams to travel and audiobooks.

“Drivers want easy access to their web content in the car, publishers want to get their music, news and information to drivers, and car companies want to give drivers a safe and up-to-date experience. Until Aha, it was very hard to do any of these, much less all three,” said Robert Acker, HARMAN VP and General Manager of Aha. “By partnering with companies like Honda, Subaru, Kenwood, CBS, Rhapsody, and NPR in addition to our existing partners like Pioneer and Slacker, Aha has become the web-connected “fourth band” of the car radio, alongside AM, FM and satellite radio. Aha’s platform uniquely enables drivers to safely and easily access great audio content from around the web, and transforms non-audio web content into radio stations. This is just the beginning of the automotive and content deals we’ll announce this year.”

Aha announced partnerships with Honda and Subaru that will seamlessly bring Aha into Honda and Subaru vehicles to let drivers interact with web-based content right through the radio. Honda and Subaru are among the first automotive manufacturers to integrate Aha’s service into their vehicles.

Kenwood will also integrate Aha in its next generation of aftermarket head units for the car. It joins Pioneer which began integrating Aha into aftermarket units in 2011 and is expanding Aha to additional aftermarket units in 2012. A number of other car manufacturers are integrating Aha but have yet to make announcements.

Aha and CBS Radio jointly announced today a partnership that will bring CBS’s stations to drivers and other users of the Aha Radio platform. This partnership allows Aha Radio to distribute CBS Radio content via mobile devices and directly into vehicles. CBS Radio will join a wide breadth of content already available on Aha including Slacker, Facebook, and Twitter. Aha has also recently signed content deals with NPR, Entertainment Radio Network, MOG, Rhapsody, and AOL SHOUTcast Radio, which will become available this year. In total these new partnerships expand Aha’s offerings from hundreds of stations to tens of thousands of personalized stations.

In addition to the content and car deals, Aha has also announced that it will launch a new Android app and update its iPhone app in the first quarter of 2012.

Aha is a part of HARMAN International (NYSE: HAR) the premium global audio and infotainment group.

About Aha by HARMAN
Aha, a unit of HARMAN International Industries, is the first interactive platform that makes web content safe for drivers. Aha organizes content from the web into personalized, live and on-demand radio stations that consumers can listen to from anywhere – at home, on the go, or safely from the driver’s seat. Aha is currently working with five automotive manufacturers who will be launching model 2013 vehicles with consumer services based on Aha’s cloud-based platform. The Aha Platform and Service was started in 2008 by a group of web and multimedia veterans with a shared passion for delivering an “always-on” audio experience to connect drivers to the content they really want. HARMAN, the company that designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets, acquired Aha in September 2010. For more information, visit http://www.aharadio.com.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek – Mid Hudson Subaru

There are stories in every culture about a young man or woman who is supposed to marry someone sensible, attractive, a good cook and good provider. But when the protagonist of the story meets the would-be fiancee’s more interesting, vivacious, funny and unconventional sibling or best friend, sparks fly and the original relationship doesn’t stand a chance.

And so it was when we drove the 2013 Subaru XV through the roads and highways of Tuscany. On Day One, we drove the version the U.S. will get in the third quarter of next year. The first thing to hit us: déjà vu. This is the 2012 Impreza hatchback, albeit with cladding above the wheel wells and a a seriously jacked up stance. It will have the same, brand-new 2.0-liter flat-four as the Impreza hatch we tested a few months ago that is just hitting dealer lots.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek driving2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek driving2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek driving

Despite the fact that the XV and Impreza hatch are as close to one another as the Olsen twins (if one of them were wearing platform shoes), Subaru will market the crossover as the XV Crosstrek. Indeed, parent company Fuji Heavy Industries would only give it to Subaru of America if they gave the car its own unique name (big decision coming about whether to capitalize the “T” in ‘trek’). The company previously sold an Impreza with a raised suspension called the Impreza Outback Sport, and nobody was happy with the sales results.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek front detail2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek wheel2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek rear detail2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek rear fascia

As previously noted, the exterior is the same as the Impreza hatch, only raised 8.6 inches off the ground. Both cars sport a more chiseled, aggressive hood. The grille on the XV has been tweaked to include a continuous chrome bar under the Subaru logo. The black cladding topping the rear wheel wells continues down under the car and surrounds the rear fog lights. The huge gaps in the wheel wells are necessary for suspension travel while traipsing off road, though these cars are typically bought for their sure-footedness in snow and dirt, not creek beds and mountain crawls.

The new Impreza is the same length and width as the old model, though the wheelbase has been lengthened by two inches giving rear-seat passengers extra comfort. We found gallons of front-seat headroom for us two five-foot, 10-inch occupants, not that the former Impreza was a slouch when it came to space up front.

On the inside, it’s a clean, straightforward setup. No heavy-handed styling like in the Ford Focus center-stack. It’s a cabin designed for sense and sensibility, for people who put 20 percent down on their mortgages and don’t carry big credit card balances. There’s so-called soft-touch surfacing on the upper door panels and dashboard.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek interior2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek front seats2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek rear seats2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek rear cargo area

The 2.0-liter flat-four (148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque) is the only engine Subaru is copping to bringing Stateside. The U.S. isn’t even likely to get a turbo, to which we say, why the hell not? This crossover is supposed to be for urban adventurers, according to the marketing presentation, but alas turbo power will be reserved for the Impreza STI and WRX.

The engine is mated to a six-speed CVT with paddle-shifters that Subaru calls “Lineartronic.” We dipped into manual mode in both the Impreza and XV, and still don’t quite get the point. It’s not horrible off the line in automatic, but we’d take a manual tray for both cars given the choice.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek engine

Like the Impreza, the XV uses a MacPherson strut and lower L-arm front with a double-wishbone rear suspension. With the boxer engine and symmetrical AWD, the XV has a well-balanced and comfortable feel. As the weather called for flurries, Subaru had outfitted our tester with snow tires, but the wet stuff never materialized. Regardless, the electrically assisted steering’s on-center feel – even with the cold weather rubber – was light but communicative, and the engine’s start-stop system’s engagement was obvious, but just shy of refined.

On the whole, there isn’t too much here that the Impreza hatch doesn’t already offer, except the higher ride height and the more aggressive pose that the boosted suspension provides. But those changes are important as light crossovers represent the fastest growing category in both the U.S. and Europe. The XV Crosstrek not only qualifies as a crossover (the Impreza doesn’t), but it will start at under $20,000 – perhaps even under $19k – putting Subaru into a critical price bracket for shoppers comparing crossovers online (the standard 2012 Impreza clocks in at just under $18,000 in five-door form).

If you like the Impreza hatchback and Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system, then there’s nothing not to like here. If the idea of a legit crossover – versus a hatchback – floats your boat, then Subaru is making sure you don’t feel the need to go to another brand. That’s just good business sense, even if it’s close to a rolling misnomer.

2013 Subaru SV Crosstrek rear 3/4 view

Can it handle some off-roading? Sure. We drove the XV through a vineyard on a dirt road, but we’re sure a 1970 Dodge Coronet could have handled it without getting stuck. And that’s likely the most demanding conditions owners will throw at it. But the XV is a solid, all-wheel-drive utility knife with a smooth, satisfying ride – just like most Subarus.

Subaru of America thinks it can sell between 25,000 and 35,000 XV Crosstreks a year – even without offering a turbo or a diesel. Why can’t we get the better hardware that Olivier, Sven and Klaus get? We hear that Subaru of America is selling everything Japan ships to the U.S. and that the Japanese honchos don’t see the need in sending over anything they aren’t sure about (diesel) or that drives the cost up (turbo). Maybe Subaru executives know something we don’t, but if the brand’s famously adventurous buyers got the chance to experience the diesel model’s superior drivability and economy for themselves, we have a feeling they’d find even more to love… and buy.

 

Image Credit: Subaru

Why you should love the BRZ!

 

Yes, Subaru can… save driving

Lulled into stupor by your in-car DVD player and automatic butt massagers, you may not have noticed, but cars have gotten really, really boring in the last two decades. Sure, they’re faster than ever — a 2011 Toyota Camry makes 21 more horsepower than a 1991 Porsche 911 — they’re safer than ever and they’re more luxurious than ever. But all the above have removed the whole purpose of cars: The driving itself. But change could now be on the horizon. Could a new product from the most beige of automakers forever restore the driver to his rightful place?

But that all changed a week ago when I walked into the reveal of the Scion FR-S here in Hollywood. The car in front of me wasn’t about bullshit numbers that translate into very little experience. It wasn’t about features and it wasn’t about image. It’s not designed to perfectly accentuate Mr. Bluetooth Earpiece’s striped shirt or make Sally Homemaker feel rugged. Unlike literally every other car on the market in 2011, it’s made to do one thing and one thing only. It’s made to be driven.

There’s been some bitching in Jalop circles that the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT 86 and its Subaru BRZ cousin don’t make headline-grabbing power figures. To them, I say, who cares? I’ve driven the most powerful cars on the planet and been bored to tears doing so. The problem is, that with ridiculous power, comes ridiculous liability.

No automaker is free to allow mere mortals to exploit a 556 HP luxury car without intervention. And I’m not talking about just the electronic kind. Chassis on those cars are tuned for safety, not driver involvement. Stability at high speeds, not agility in tight corners. The hugely wide and extremely low-profile tires needed to put that power to the road grip like hell, but utterly refuse to slide in a controllable manner. Where’s the fun when you only have two choices on the menu: grip or spin?

In fact, the whole concept that speed somehow correlates with what we want to do as drivers is completely erroneous. I’m not in this to read some number off a dashboard, I drive cars and ride bikes to develop new skills, then practice them. I drive to participate in a landscape and, occasionally, to scare myself.

The best driver’s car I’ve ever owned was a BMW that weighed 2,813 Lbs and made 167 HP. The Scionotabaru weighs 2,689 Lbs and makes 197 HP. That’s plenty for me. That I’ll be able to drive it without playing into the ideas that our midwestern and southern readers probably have about me and my skinny jeans and that I’ll be able to carry luggage and occasionally some buddies in the back seats just makes it that much better.

To put those numbers in perspective, a current BMW M3 weighs 3,704 Lbs. Over 1,000 more than the Subionta. Where’s the fun in that?

That the GT 86/86/FR-S/BRZ was able to get down to such a svelte weight without the use of exotic materials is indicative of its appeal. It doesn’t need a carbon fiber roof or magnesium wheels or drillium pedals in order to perform. Which means you’ll be able to make it perform for just $24,000. That’s less than a VW Golf TDI. You can afford this car. You can afford to crash this car and you can afford to repair it. That means you can afford to really, really drive it. Hard. You can afford to modify it. You’ll probably be able to do the maintenance yourself, in your driveway.

When I walked into that FR-S unveil I saw a car that was small, a car that was practical, a car that was unassuming, a car that was RWD, has a manual transmission, a light weight and perfect weight distribution. I saw a car that I wanted, badly. For the first time in a long time.

I’m planning on buying a BRZ. How about you?

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek – Mid Hudson Subaru

To put it simply, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is an Impreza five-door with a raised suspension, specific front and rear fascias, body-side cladding and exclusive wheels. However, the company line is that the XV is not an Impreza but its own model targeting a new group of customers: urbanites.

Traditionally, Subaru does well with active outdoor hobbyists with its lineup of crossovers, but none of the company’s models put an emphasis on targeting the city-slicker crowd until now.

What’s Subaru’s plan of attack to appeal to Starbucks drinkers? Provide a sleek and sporty appearance, offer a fun driving character and flexible interior space. Drivetrain options, not surprisingly, mirror the Impreza’s with a 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder producing 148 hp connected to a standard five-speed manual transmission or an available continuously variable transmission.

 

What is it like to drive?

Well, like a tall Impreza five-door hatchback. Unfortunately, the test vehicles we drove were European models shod with Yokohama winter tires. Our test drive took place in and around Florence, Italy, in December, where snow is usually the norm. But during our two days of driving, temps were in the high 50s with not a flake of snow in sight–not ideal conditions for full-fledged winter rubber.

As expected, the car exhibited more lean than we would like in corners and gradual sweepers on the expressway, and steering response was numb, which no doubt had much to do with the tires. We fully expect things to be more composed with proper, stock all-season tires mounted. Ride quality was surprisingly stiff with larger bumps giving us a good jolt in the driver’s seat, but smaller ruts were smoothed out by the suspension without a hitch. Cabin isolation from road noise and wind noise was also good.

The first day had us in a six-speed-manual-equipped XV (which the Impreza and the XV get in Europe; U.S. models are saddled with a five-speed unit because of cost constraints), which helps get the most out of the flat four-cylinder. Power is adequate, but merging onto the expressway and getting past slower traffic requires a hearty stomp on the throttle.

We also had the opportunity to pilot an XV with Subaru’s 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel boxer four-cylinder with 148 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. With peak torque available from 1,600 rpm, it gives the XV more grunt than you’ll ever need for slicing through the urban jungle. Unfortunately, there are no plans in the immediate future to bring the diesel to the States in any Subaru vehicle.

Being a Subaru with standard all-wheel drive, our route took us through some light off-road duty, which the XV handled without a hitch.

 

Do I want it?

If you value hatchback flexibility (22.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which grows to 52.4 with the rear seats folded down), all-wheel-drive traction and hipper looks, then the XV is an enticing offering. As we said, it’s a raised Impreza five-door, but the small touches designers used to turn it into the XV are slick. The 17-inch aluminum wheels with black-painted spoke insets stand out, and the car is available with an orange paint job to really make it pop.

The cabin is exactly the same as the Impreza’s, which is a good thing as Subaru went to great lengths to up quality with soft-touch surfaces on all major touch points. There’s also a great view from the driver’s seat with the skinny A-pillars made possible by the use of high-strength steel. Numerous storage spots provide lots of space to stash items, and major controls are laid out in an intuitive manner.

Then there is the fuel economy, which should be quite good when equipped with the CVT gearbox. EPA ratings aren’t available yet but should closely mirror those of the Impreza, which is rated at 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the new Subaru 2.0-liter. And keep in mind that’s with all-wheel drive.

If you’re on the fence about the XV, you’ll have plenty of time to think about it: The car doesn’t arrive in the United States until next fall as a 2013 model. Initially, the U.S. Subaru arm didn’t want to bring the XV over at all, but after seeing the vehicle they had a change of heart and saw the potential to appeal to a new group of customers.

Being diesel fans and having had a chance to sample Subaru’s latest oil-burner, we think Subaru should also reconsider bringing that engine to America.

 

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

On Sale: Fall 2012

Base Price: $19,745 (est)

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter, 148-hp, 145-lb-ft H4; AWD, five-speed manual

Curb Weight: 3,020 lb

0-60 MPH: 9.9 sec (est)

Fuel Economy: 28 mpg (est)

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111212/CARNEWS/111219998#ixzz1gvsVhS6G

About That Drinking Problem – NY Times – 2012 Subaru Impreza – Mid Hudson Subaru

Subaru of America

MORE M.P.G.’S With its jump in fuel economy, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is now the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in the United States. More Photos »

THERE are so many Subarus here in northern New Hampshire that people joke about it being the official state car. But the owners don’t joke about their fuel economy, which pretty much stinks.

This consumer displeasure has not escaped the attention of Subaru, which concedes that lackluster gas mileage has cost it sales. The company finally addressed the issue when it redesigned the midsize Legacy and Outback for 2010, and it has followed up by greatly improving the mileage of the redesigned 2012 Impreza compact.

The new Impreza sedan with an automatic transmission is rated at 36 miles per gallon on the highway, a whopping 38 percent increase from last year’s figure of 26 m.p.g. The city mileage estimate has jumped to 27 m.p.g., from 20 m.p.g., a leap of 35 percent.

The gains also make the Impreza the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle sold in the United States. Its closest competitor is the 2012 Mini Cooper Countryman S All4 with a 6-speed manual transmission. That Mini is rated at 25 m.p.g. city and 31 m.p.g. highway and, in contrast with the easy-to-please Impreza, has a gas snob’s taste for premium fuel.

In addition to the Impreza sedan, there is a four-door hatchback (which Subaru persists in calling a five-door). Each has a 5-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.

The sedan with the stick shift is rated at 25/34 m.p.g., a gain from last year of 5 m.p.g. in town and 7 on the highway. The new hatchback with the manual is rated at 25 m.p.g. in the city (a gain of 5) and 33 on the highway (up 6).

Happily for consumers, and for Subaru, the new Impreza offers more than an improved ability to shun gas stations. It blends practicality — particularly with the hatchback — with more entertaining handling.

The sedan starts at $18,245 and the hatchback at $18,745. Some states require a cleaner PZEV-rated version (for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle), which adds $300 to the price.

The continuously variable automatic transmission, a fuel-saving design without discrete gears, adds $1,000.

I spent a week in a sedan with the C.V.T. and Premium trim. The price, with a $3,000 option package that included alloy wheels, sunroof, navigation system and heated seats was $23,545.

An automaker seeking to coax some small gains in fuel economy can typically come up with a few tweaks here and there. But to manage improvements of this magnitude it is necessary to spend some serious money for a new engine and transmission.

The variable transmission, which replaces a quaint and uncompetitive 4-speed automatic, is a smaller version of the C.V.T. in the Legacy and Outback. The unit responds promptly to the gas pedal, but during cruising it also lets the engine speed drop, improving fuel economy.

The other big change is a new 2-liter 4-cylinder engine, an offspring of Subaru’s first all-new engine family in two decades. It is a smaller version of a 2.5-liter power plant introduced in the Forester last year, and like other Subaru engines it is a horizontally opposed, or Boxer, design.

Subaru says the engine is more efficient and includes some lighter components because it was not designed to be turbocharged: some parts of a turbo engine have to be stronger to withstand additional pressure created by the turbocharger.

The new engine is rated at 148 horsepower at 6,200 revolutions per minute and 145 pound feet of torque at 4,200 r.p.m. That’s a big drop from the 170-horse engine of last year, but Subaru says the new transmission’s quicker response helps to make up for the loss of power. Also, the new Impreza weighs less — in the case of my test car, about 130 pounds.

In about 400 miles of travel on Interstate highways and hilly roads through the White Mountains, I never felt the Impreza was seriously underpowered. But neither would I say that its acceleration was brisk.

Once up to speed, the Impreza is a fine companion for the driver in a hurry. The electric power steering’s consistent weight and feel are quite good — indeed, far superior to the steering in other recently redesigned Subarus like the Outback. With a reworked suspension and stronger body, the car responds quickly when the driver wants to change direction. Rumpled roads don’t upset either the Impreza’s handling or the comfort of its occupants.

I also briefly drove a hatchback and found the handling was similar. Subaru says it tried to make all the Imprezas ride and handle the same.

BBC Top Gear – First drive: Subaru BRZ coupe – Mid Hudson Subaru

First drive: Subaru’s new BRZ coupe

First of all, let’s solve the mystery of the name. BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. That’s pretty clear isn’t it? Well, the first two parts are, and as for Zenith, that’s just Subaru’s way of saying this is the best it can do. Personally I think SubaruZenith has more of a ring to it than Subaru BRZ which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly a dynamic name.

And this is a shame for a rather dynamic car. That’s right, we’ve finally, finally driven the BRZ. We had to go all the way to Subaru’s test track, two hours north of Tokyo to do so, but it was worth it.

So where to start? As suspected, both Subaru and Toyota have had specific tasks within this joint project. Toyota has been responsible for the design (certainly not the most dynamic aspect of the BRZ), and has lent its direct injection technology to the engine. Subaru has done pretty much everything else. Talking to the engineers you get the sense this is very much Subaru’s car – the first development prototype was a cut n’ shut Legacy, the next an Impreza. This is good news, as we know Subaru can build great cars. The BRZ clearly has potential.

It’s a brand new car from scratch – a rare thing these days. The engine is mounted so low, Subaru believes it has a lower centre of gravity than a Ferrari 458. And a low engine is not only good for handling, but also means the driver can be sat low, yet still see over the bonnet. It’s snug inside, the design largely functional, the colour scheme mostly grey. It’s no Audi TT, but the impression is good because you’ve dropped so low into a wrap-around seat and your hands are clasping a small, feelsome wheel.

The driver’s seat is definitely the place to be. Subaru boasts that this is the world’s smallest four seat rear-wheel drive coupe, so you can guess what that means for those travelling in the back. And the boot seems to be a complete afterthought.

See all the pictures from the Subaru BRZ first drive

But enough of that, it’s the driving that counts. The 2.0-litre flat four is naturally aspirated, revs to 7,400rpm and develops 200bhp and 151lb ft of torque. These, you don’t need me to point out, aren’t massively impressive figures these days. And the BRZ isn’t a massively fast car. Final homologation happens next month, the expectation being a 0-62mph time of around 6.8secs with the CO2 target being 160g/km. I’d guess at a top speed of around 145mph, and 42mpg on the combined cycle.

It’s light though (1,220kg), and Subaru has worked the torque hard, so although the peak is between 6,400-6,600rpm, you have almost all of that before 3,000rpm. Put your foot down at low revs and it picks up healthily, aided by super-quick throttle response. But it tails off a bit through the mid-range, meaning you have to head for the high numbers to get your kicks. And that’s where the BRZ is at its best. It zips through the final 2,000rpm, feels keen and energetic and then, well, and then there’s the noise. We have high hopes…

Of course, it sounds different. This Boxer doesn’t chunter and warble like an old Impreza, it’s a smoother note than that, still slightly off-beat and noisy enough without being intrusive. It’s not Honda Type-R addictive, but it’s a plus, a whack more interesting to listen to than any four cylinder turbo you care to mention (VW Scirocco? Renaultsport Megane? Mini Cooper S?). It makes this a fun engine to use, but it’s not the best thing about the car.

Because the best thing is the handling. The BRZ steers like it has no weight to deal with. It doesn’t appear to roll, pitch or dive. It’s neither nose nor tail heavy, just a sense of the front and rear working in perfect harmony. You steer, it goes and when the grip runs out (it was pouring with rain in Japan), the BRZ is almost totally neutral. And you get so much warning of when that’s about to happen. I was nervous when I found out it had electric power steering, but this has to be about the best system I’ve tried – the springy weighting is lovely and real sensations are fed back into your hands.

How best to describe it as an overall package? Keen. Eager. It’s not puppy-ish in its enthusiasm, it’s a bit more measured than that, but it’s a lot of fun. Easily better to drive than a VW Scirocco; more agile and rewarding than any Audi TT. It may not have the lungs on a Nissan 370Z, but it’s way more dextrous and I can’t think of any hot hatch except possibly the Renaultsport Clio that provides as much satisfaction.

You can still tell that it’s a Subaru at heart – not just in the engine, but the steering and manual gearbox – but it’s like they’ve let Lotus loose on the chassis. Well, almost. The light frame does get a bit thrown by big bumps, but it never feels unnerving, instead it inspires confidence.

The manual gearbox is really good – mechanical and precise – and the six-speed auto is better than expected. It’s not a double clutch, but it’s just fast enough and intelligent enough to justify its presence in a sports car.

See all the pictures from the Subaru BRZ first drive

Any other criticisms? Well, being honest, the BRZ seems slightly out of step with other rivals. Subaru has ditched the turbo just as others have adopted it, it’s available with an unfashionable auto rather than a double clutch, the biggest wheels are likely to be 17s, there’s no adaptive damping or any other chassis trickery. But does this matter? It will to some buyers, just as the styling is too plain to tempt others. But if you enjoy driving, if you relish the thought of a compact rear-drive coupe, this is the car for you. Roughly 1,000 per year will come to the UK, starting in June, with prices from around £26,000-28,000.