Subaru BRZ review

Subaru BRZ review

The Subaru BRZ is one of the best kept secrets of the auotmotive world.

Developed alongisde the near-identical Toyota GT86, it’s an affordable back-to-basics front
engined, rear-wheel drive 2+2 sports coupe.

For 2017, Subaru has given the evergreen BRZ a mid-life facelift, equipment upgrade and distilled the trim options down to just one – SE Lux.

Subaru BRZ review

The exterior design tweaks are subtle, apart from the old school aerodynamic wing at the rear. Elsewhere, there’s a new front bumper, LED headlights and 10-spoke 17-inch alloys.

You can choose from five colours, though Subaru’s iconic WR (World Rally) Blue Pearl is surely the one to go for.

Inside, a 4.2-inch LCD colour display is added to the instrument display, featuring such sporting essentials as a G-Force meter and braking gauge.

Subaru BRZ review

The leather steering wheel is now smaller and boasts audio controls, while plastics generally have been upgraded or replaced by leather, giving the cabin a more upmarket feel.

The Alcantra and leather seats are more comfortable than ever (the driver’s seat has a six-way adjustment), while a 6.2-inch touchscreen has been added to the centre console, though sat nav is a £1,250 option.

The infotainment system is not as hi-tech as the best of them, but it does the job and, of course, offers full connectivity.

Subaru BRZ review

Traditionalists will be pleased to note that the cockpit is still adorned with plenty of retro-feel knobs and toggle switches.

The rear passenger seats are fitted with ISOFIX anchor points, but as with most 2+2s, they are
almost totally useless. Better news in the boot where there’s 243 litres of space available – 1,270 with the rear seats folded flat.

The 2017 Subaru BRZ is more driver focused than ever. Sadly, there’s no extra power for the 2.0-
litre 200PS ‘Boxer’ petrol engine, but it is more responsive, it still sounds suitably throaty and CO2 emissions are slightly lower.

Subaru BRZ review

Elsewhere, Subaru’s engineers have made various changes (to the steering, suspension, dampers and
brakes) to tweak the driving dynamics and make the BRZ even sharper than before.

Priced from £26,050, the BRZ is one of the most entertaining cars you’ll find for that money.

The chassis is better than ever and it’s enormous fun on flowing country roads. Agile and engaging, it’s helped by a slick six-speed short-throw manual gearbox and it feels totally
planted.

Subaru BRZ review

For the record, the BRZ is capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds (but feels faster) and it tops out at 140mph. Fuel economy is a claimed 36.2mpg (and it not far off that in the real world), while CO2 emissions are a very average 180g/km.

But here’s the thing. The BRZ is also now available with automatic transmission – and it’s a bit of a revelation.

Subaru BRZ review

It may sounds like sacrilege in a sports car package like this, but the auto box slams through the gears pretty well – even producing the odd pop on down-changes, allowing you to concentrate on the driving. The engine even sounds more sporty.

Verdict: The new, improved Subaru BRZ is better than ever. With a mild makeover inside and out, plus enhanced driving dynamics, it has to be one of the best-value, most entertaining sports cars
on the market – and it still looks just as cool.

Review by Gareth Herincx

Subaru BRZ review

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Le Mans/WEC 2015 entry.

So earlier today, the ACO press conference announced the entry list for the World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Numbers wise, we have thirty-five in WEC, thirty-four in ELMS and the traditional fifty-five at Le Mans, although no Garage 56 entry has been selected for Le Mans. Additionally Seven entrants are on the official reserve list for Le Mans.

LMP1

So firstly taking a look at LMP1, no major surprises in terms of entries, two cars from the four manufacturers plus the two Rebellion entries, note rebellion will miss Silverstone due to the late engine change from Toyota power to AER as reported on RACER, with the final LMP1 full season entry coming from ByKolles which is the “Lotus CLM” rebranded for 2015.

In terms of full season drivers, today confirmed a few additional names, so we know that Harry Tincknell who was part of Jota Sport’s Le Mans 24 LMP2 victory last year, is now with Nissan, and we also now know that Olivier Pla is confirmed with Nissan full season for the sister entry, whilst Marc Gene will be part of Nissan’s programme, whilst Simon Trummer makes the switch from GP2 to WEC with the ByKolles team. At Rebellion, Matias Beche and Nicolas Prost are confirmed as returning drivers.

In terms of LMP1 entries for Le Mans, the world knew before today, although officially confirmed that Audi, Porsche and Nissan will enter a third additional car for Le Mans, whilst Toyota will stay with two entries. Toyota have repeatedly said the reason for that is budget, but Toyota need to win Le Mans this year realistically, will having just two bullets in the chamber, compared to the rivals cost them? On the other hand, Will having two cars help them?

In terms of additional drivers confirmed for Le Mans, we know the additional Nissan will be led by Tsugio Matsuda, who is the reigning SuperGT (GT500) champion for Nismo. Whilst Porsche has previously confirmed Nico Hulkenberg, his team-mates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber where confirmed, whilst Audi will run as confirmed previously Felipe Alberquerque, alongside Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi for the third car.

LMP2

Lots of changes for LMP2, firstly looking at the WEC, the obvious is the huge increase in entries, up to ten full season LMP2 entries, which is very good news for the WEC as for a variety of reasons, LMP2 in WEC really suffered in 2014, with four P2 chassis in total at some rounds.

As well as the obvious resurgence, 2015 does see the debut of several new chassis in P2 competition, last year we saw Ligier (Onroak) have its debut worldwide, for 2015 the WEC has three Ligier JS P2’s on the grid full season, two from G-Drive racing and a further from the actual OAK Racing team,  all with Nissan Power.  Whilst at Le Mans, OAK Racing will add a third Nissan powered LMP2 contender, whilst Krohn Racing, who are competing in ELMS, will field an additional Ligier JS P2, with Judd Power.

ESM bring two HPD ARX 04B’s full season in the WEC, following the debut of the chassis by the team during the Rolex 24 TUSCC race earlier in January, the team running a mixed programme, between WEC full season and the NAEC rounds over in the USA. Signatech Alpine move up from ELMS back to the WEC after winning the 2014 ELMS P2 championship, bringing with it the branded Alpine A450B. Whilst Team SARD Morand sees a partnership between ELMS team Morand Racing, who are stepping up to the WEC in partnership with Japanese renowned Le Mans Team SARD, the team will run the WEC full season in the “Morgan EVO” which is an updated version of the Morgan branded open cockpit Onroak P2’s seen in various championships for the past few years.

The Final two P2 entrants for the WEC come from Strakka, who are running the long awaited Strakka-Dome S103, whilst KCMG are the only full season WEC entry, to take the brand new Oreca 05. At Le Mans, a further Oreca 05 will be entered by ELMS team Thiriet by TDS Racing.

Also at Le Mans, ELMS team SMP Racing will bring its two developed in house BR01’s, whilst ELMS teams Greaves Motorsport (Gibson 015S) , Ibanez motorsport (Oreca 03R) and Pegasus Racing (Morgan Nissan) will join the class.

GTE

In GTE PRO, It’s business as usual for the WEC, with the usual two AF Corse entered Ferrari  458’s, alongside two Porsche Team Manthey entries, Whilst Aston Martin Racing have three entries in GTE PRO for 2015, whilst at Le Mans, Corvette Racing joins with two factory C7.R entrants in the class.

GTE Am sees a few differences; firstly a full season privateer Corvette C7.R is present in the WEC, with Larbre competition. Elsewhere SMP Racing, whose P2 entries have switched to ELMS, runs a singular Ferrari 458. Patrick Dempsey in partnership with Proton Racing, bring a Porsche 911 RSR, alongside the Proton Racing – Abu Dhabi sister entry. Meanwhile AF Corse brings one car, and Aston Martin Racing have two entries.

At Le Mans, the field is expanded with additional Ferrari 458’s; two from AF Corse, one from JMW Motorsport and one from TUSCC team, Scuderia Corsa.  Additionally Team AAI will bring two Porsche 911 RSR’s from AsLMS.

LMP3

Just a final thought on LMP3, the latest ACO class, which will be raced in the ELMS throughout 2015. Today the entry list confirmed Seven Ginetta-Nissan entrants in the class, which is a highly positive start for the class, especially with other manufacturers on the way. Interestingly Chris Hoy is racing among that class for cycling fans.

Entry list 
WEC ELMS Le Mans

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Nissan Superbowl launch

So whilst we have got used to online launches for motorsport particularly this week, Nissan of course had to be different, launching the 2015 LMP1 Nismo GT-R, which will compete in the 2015 FIA WEC  during an ad in tonight’s superbowl.

Ben Bowlby – Nissan LMP1 Team Principal had this to say – “These cars represent the pinnacle of current racing technology: huge energy recovery systems, super fuel-efficient engines and wild aerodynamics, creating extremely fast cars for their weight and endurance. “These are 24-hour racing cars that cover practically a whole Formula One season in one Le Mans race. It’s a very different challenge to F1 and much more relevant to what’s going on in road cars. If you drive from say London to Edinburgh you expect the car to get through the miles and be fast, stable, comfortable and safe and provide the handling and grip you might need if you have to come off the motorway and take some back roads – that’s the sort of challenge that Le Mans represents. It’s all about having a fast, efficient and safe car.”

A few technical details on the car have also been released. The front engined LMP1 car will feature a 3.0L Twin Turbo V6, with hybrid integration, producing over 1250bhp. Additionally the front and rear tires are different sizes, the fronts are 14″ and the rears 9″. It really is an amazing prototype.

I will just let the ad do the talking, you can view the prequel ad here  and the actual superbowl ad here  from which you can form your own opinions, but I’m really impressed by the way in which Nissan have marketed and launched this programme, and very happy that Nissan are really going for a very different approach to its rivals on track. Nissan has also confirmed the first driver for the programme as the highly experienced Marc Gene.

I can’t wait for Silverstone!

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Hulkenberg at Le Mans 2015

I have a huge amount of respect for drivers that participate in a variety of different disciplines within motorsport throughout a career. I have an even greater respect for those who do different disciplines within the same season. Today Force India F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg announced his intention to race for the Porsche factory LMP1 team in the 919 Hybrid at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first pilot announced for the additionally entered 919 Hybrid for Le Mans 24 and the Six Hours of Spa WEC round alongside his commitments to F1 with Force India. Neither event clashes with his F1 commitments, nor does the Le Mans test day.

Hülkenberg’s single-seater career accolades are well known, although this will not be his first endurance race, with the German previously entering in the French V De V Challenge Endurance Moderne Four Hours of Dijon-Prenois in 2006, sharing the car with Frederic Makowiecki, in a Ligier JS 49 entrant built to FIA CN regulations.

Rather interestingly, without the team-mates being confirmed thus far for Hülkenberg and with Fred Makowiecki, currently a Porsche factory GT driver on that potential short-list, following his test in the 919 Hybrid earlier this year, It all could become an interesting reunion for the two on the World stage, at one of the worlds greatest races.

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Toyota Supreme in Shanghai

When the gates opened at Shanghai International Circuit, the crowds flocked in for the Six Hours of Shanghai, with the main pit-straight grandstand drawing a highly impressive crowd for the start of the race. A race that eventually would lead to a 1-2 finish by the Toyota Racing team, with the championship challenging #8 (Anthony Davidson/ Sebastien Buemi) leading the team home.

The race got under-way, with Porsche heading out into the lead. Sadly the start of the race was not without incident. When the KCMG entered Oreca 03R LMP2 driven by Imperatori ground to a halt due to a fuel pump issue. With the car sitting unsighted sadly the AF Corse #51 entrant driven by Gianmaria Bruni made somewhat heavy contact into the rear of the Oreca leading to a safety car response. Both drivers however are fine.

The safety car response led to Toyota pulling an interesting strategy, bringing both cars in so early in the race, to reduce the need for a fuel stop late in the race, placing them deep in the field for the restart.

They wouldn’t stay back towards the rear however, The #7 would lead the early charge through the field, before the #8 took over the charge and moved through the grid, by the time all but one of the leading LMP1 cars pitted, Toyota was positioned back in 2nd place. An Incredible drive by Buemi through the field.

The #20 Porsche would hit issues, with a rear left puncture causing the whole tyre to be removed from the car, and a slow trip back to the pitlane, putting the car behind the Audi’s and Porsche’s by the time the issue was solved. Whist Rebellion Racing came home 7th and 8th in class, and the best of the LMP1-L entrants.

In LMP2, it would be a completely dominant performance by the G-Drive Racing Ligier JS-P2, the next generation LMP2 prototype wiped the floor with it’s competition, finishing three laps ahead of its nearest competitor. ( Romain Rusinov / Olivier Pla / Julien Canal) However the battle between Extreme Speed Motorsports and SMP Racing, gave us plenty of interest in LMP2. The American ESM team eventually won the battle coming home second in class, with the #30 entrant. (Scott Sharp / Ryan Dalziel / Rodolfo Gonzalez)

The Morgan-Judd Oak entered LMP2 meanwhile had a collision with Kalid Al Qubaisi in the Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR GTE Am entry, which severely hampered both teams results.

IN GTE PRO, after finally experiencing a strong weekend for the #97 Aston Martin entry, qualifying on pole and leading the race from Porsche AG Team Manthey, sadly expired with One Hour and thirty minutes to go, with plooms of smoke coming from the side of the car, leaving Porsche to take GTE PRO honours with the #92 entrant. (Patrick Pilet/ Fred Makowieki) Whilst in GTE AM Aston Martin Racing’s #98 entrant (Pedro Lamy/ Paul Dalla Lana / Christoffer Nygaard) took class honours.

Overall the race was relatively interesting, not an incredible race, but certainly more interesting to watch than the previous round in Fuji, Toyota where dominant here as expected, and are the class of the field when it comes to the three LMP1 manufacturers.

Audi where surprisingly closer to Porsche than expected, the straight line speed was certainly a large hindrance to them, but not a complete disaster for Audi, certainly having more pace than Porsche later in the stints. What will be interesting is how Audi cope at Bahrain; the nature of the circuit is somewhat different to Shanghai, with the technical sections playing to the team’s advantages.

Porsche had a strong weekend, coming home in third for the #14 entry, The car started on pole, and ran well, Porsche are still in a development curve, and at the moment, a dominant Toyota beat them, however the potential for Porsche is certainly available for the future.

Vial Formula1blog

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