Driving the Subaru WRX is like Richard Gere dating Roberts in Pretty Woman


There’s a bejeweled saloon parked outside – splattered in spoilers and bling like a blonde-haired girl in a mini-skirt, tottering around on white stilettos.

Driving the WRX around the Cotswolds is the automotive equivalent of Richard Gere dating Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

That huge air intake on the bonnet and comedy spoiler on the boot don’t sit easily with me. Especially when more conservative monsters like the Golf R and BMW M135i are equally impressive contenders.

At least there’s nothing retro about that burbling 2.5-litre engine. It sounds fantastic and turns heads for the right reasons. A week of sideways fun ahead? Sounds good to me…

Subaru BRZ – good for two people but not four


One last fling in the BRZ today. I remember driving the Subaru’s sister car, the Toyota GT 86, and thoroughly enjoying it. The BRZ is a lower spec model and it does feel rather cheap by comparison.

The seats are especially disappointing. Combined with a hard suspension set up they have give my poor back a proper pounding over the last 700 miles.

Access to the back seats is a bit tricky too! It requires pulling the lever underneath the front of the seat to roll it forward. Then another lever on the top left to fold the seat back section forward too.

So, it will actually be a joy for my backside and passengers when the Kia Optima arrives tomorrow. And I never thought I’d say that either…

The Subaru BRZ behaves like a naughty teenager…


It’s the horse fair in Stow-on-the-Wold tomorrow. In days of old, this was a place for people to buy and sell their animals. Now it’s become a giant car boot sale for everything but equine and the locals hate it.

The town is invaded by people you wouldn’t want to sit next to in your favourite boozer. My barber tells me ‘things’ go missing and many shopkeepers just shut up shop for a few days.

Driving a BRZ into the middle of the preparations today raised plenty of eyebrows. The Subaru is no shrinking violet and turned plenty of heads. The styling reminds me of a small Jaguar XK-R – and by that I really do mean small.

Sadly, the sporty looks aren’t really matched by the 197bhp engine. The BRZ makes a lot of noise, wheelspins with even the slightest over-acceleration and behaves like a naughty teenager…

How much play is there in the bonnet fit of a Subaru BRZ?


Windy day in the Lake District – especially if you are 1000ft up Shap Fell on the highest section of the M6 motorway. I could see lorries and vans swaying all over the place.

Quite scary but not as terrifying as noticing the bonnet on the BRZ was moving up and down 5mm or so. Had I inadvertently left it open – was a disaster about to unfold?

I have a fear of this happening after watching the bonnet of a Ford Grenada fold back over the windscreen when I’d just passed my driving test 30 years ago.

So I pulled off the motorway today, only to find the BRZ bonnet was closed but the fit wasn’t that reassuring. Very distracting but a very good method of keeping my speed down!

The Subaru BRZ’s cabin is a noisy place at motorway speeds…


A long day in the Subaru cockpit yesterday. Don’t expect trim quality the same as a Volkswagen – it’s best described as hard-wearing with a dash of flair.

And the cabin can be a noisy place if you are travelling anywhere at motorway speeds. Perhaps that’s why there is noise Bluetooth as standard because you wouldn’t be able to hear anybody anyway!

The driving position itself is perfect. You sit low in the seat and the steering column adjusts for reach and height too. But what’s disappointing are the hi-fi controls. There are no buttons on the steering wheel and even operating the volume is awkward because the dial is too sensitive.

Those back seats are useless for people of any size but they do allow a good deal more luggage space. For a sub £25,000 car, the BRZ is still great value – but if I had to live with one day in, day out, the cabin would no doubt prove trying…

Gentlemen, do not wear high heels in the Subaru BRZ…


It’s a long time since I wore high heels (honest). About 38 years to be exact  – on a crazy skiing holiday to Italy with my school when there was too much snow. Instead of skiing, we held fancy dress parties with the girls and drank cheap vodka. Obviously, too much drink was taken…

I mention this because I can’t believe that women can walk or even stand up in the damn things. So when I saw a lady climbing out of a Mazda MX-5 the other day, I just wondered how the heck she operated the pedals.

She certainly wouldn’t want to be in the BRZ because foot space is tight. If I wear my lightweight desert boots it’s really tough operating the pedals with and dexterity. The Subaru should come with a pair of Vans flats as standard.

That’s my only issue with BRZ driving position. Everything else is perfect. It even has a PROPER handbrake you can pull upright! Imagine that…

The Subaru BRZ is the perfect answer to over-complicated, over-priced sports cars


Let’s get the name out of the way first. BRZ stands for Boxer, Rear-wheel drive, Zenith. Imagine trying to squeeze that lot onto the boot of a cute little coupe?

I think Toyota came out in front by calling their version of the BRZ the GT 86, although neither car is blessed with a memorable moniker.

So we are, starting the first day of another Tory government in something much more exciting than a Mini Cooper S or a VW Scirocco. Not least because you won’t see many BRZs on the road in the UK.

This is a major plus for BRZ owners – their car has novelty value. And because it doesn’t have a turbo, it’s also one of the few, cheap sports cars that gives rather old-fashioned, high-revving thrills.

The BRZ looks full of promise. I’m thinking Mazda MX-5 with a roof. Perfect.

Wednesday – Two Cars In One


Don’t live near a Toyota garage but like the idea of a GT86? There is one option – buy a Subaru BRZ. The cars are identical apart from the badge on the bonnet.

In this era of shared platforms and technology, the two manufacturers have teamed up to create a brilliant coupe. If you are in the market for an Audi TT or a Nissan 370Z, the Toyota is the better value option too.

The GT86 can’t compete with them for outright performance as the 2.0-litre boxer engine is gutless by comparison. However, you can beef up the looks by opting for the TRD model, which has the same performance but has wider wheels, extra body trim and a tweaked exhaust.

You can also opt for an automatic gearbox in the standard car, although flicking through the six-speed manual gearbox is the best part of this brilliant handling 2+2.

Thursday – No Place To Hide!


If Car Couture is giving out prizes for the oddest moment of the year, it must surely have occured this morning when I came back to the Forester after a long run.

Wiltshire has plenty of quiet spots but the behind a Subaru on a hectic B-road is obviously not one of them. I went to open the boot and stumbled across a woman who was relieving herself on the kerb!

She picked the Forester over a BMW 3 Series estate and a SEAT Leon because it is much taller and provides a good deal more cover. Obviously, not enough in this instance!

Final day with the Subaru. In a nutshell – loads of space, practical interior and genuine off-road ability, without the bling. On the downside, it won’t appeal to image-conscious buyers, the prices look a little high and the engine is noisy when pushed hard.

Despite that, I’d buy one over a ‘pretty’ SUV anyday.

Wednesday – Your Reliable Friend


The best two words to sum up the Forester? Rugged and reliable. Yes, if you want chrome tailpipes and fancy stuff, go buy a Ford Kuga. You’ll regret it in the long run if you hanker for an SUV that actually does what it is meant to do.

There are times when I wish the Forester had a bit more style but I’d really rather  go for substance when buying a four-wheel drive – especially one that is obviously built to withstand whatever you can throw at it.

The 2013 version is a little noisy when pushed hard under acceleration but we’re still managing 42mpg in everyday use. This is helped by the six-speed gearbox, which is surprisingly slick for a chunky estate.

OK, so it doesn’t go around a corner with the poise of a Honda CR-V but the chances are you will be carrying a large dog, or a couple of sheep in the back anyway.

And it’s all backed up by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty too. What more could you want?