2022 Subaru BRZ first drive review: Three cheers for cheap thrills

The Subaru BRZ is a sports car that clicks instantly. Approachable, forgiving and a half to drive, the BRZ’s built-in friendliness is certainly its best feature and that’s what makes this new version so easy to like.

Overall, the formula hasn’t changed: engine up front, rear-wheel drive and above all a focus on lightness and agility. In terms of dimensions, the new BRZ is 1.2 inches longer and 0.4 inches shorter in height than its predecessor. It’s only 17 pounds heavier, too — 2,815 pounds in its lightest spec — despite having a bigger engine and more creature comforts onboard.

Subaru led engineering development for the new BRZ and Toyota GR 86 coupe, which explains why the new engine from the Fraternal Twins is actually quite familiar. There is a turbo-less version of the 2.4-litre flat-4 engine that Subaru uses in the Ascent, Inheritance and the Outback, making 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those are 23 hp and 28 lb-ft of gains over the outgoing BRZ’s 2.0-liter engine, but crucially, peak torque is delivered much lower in the rev range: 3,700 rpm instead of 6,400.

Now, before you go to the comments section and complain about the constant lack of a turbocharger, do yourself a favor and really drive the BRZ. I love the linear, predictable power delivery you only get with a naturally aspirated engine and being able to keep the engine humming consistently at high revs is a quintessential part of the BRZ experience. Also, with a better torque curve of 2.4, low-end power is no less of an issue now.

The BRZ’s new engine is best paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission, though Subaru offers an optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Automated… Okay, going about your business without any hassle. But the manual is really where it is, with a tactile, notched shift gate and a fully loaded clutch. I wouldn’t buy a BRZ any other way, and obviously, I’m far from alone. Subaru says the BRZ has a 75% take rate for a manual transmission, which may not actually be the highest in the US auto industry (for cars that offer both gearbox types, natch). Interestingly, with the Toyota 86, the take rate is only 46%, and with the Mazda MX-5 Miata, it is 58%. cat, even Porsche 911 GT3 70% lags with manual mix.

Here we see the BRZ in its natural habitat.

Michael Schaefer/Subaru

While I’m talking percentages, the 2022 BRZ has a 50% increase in torsional stiffness, 7% stiffer front springs and 11% softer rear springs, all of which help keep this car well balanced. The base BRZ Premium runs on 17-inch wheels with 215/45-series Michelin Primacy summer tyres, while the upscale BRZ Limited gets 18-inch wheels with 215/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber. The latter wheel/tire setup provides enough grip to let the BRZ hang during high-speed cornering, but not so much to kill your buzz that you should have some fun. Dig into the throttle when coming out of a turn and the BRZ will happily slide a skosh, giving you enough time to correct oversteer (or not) before traction control gets you back in line. Want to show off your flowing chops? turn off traction control in track mode; The BRZ has no trouble grabbing the long sides from the corners with a wispy plume of smoke.

This playful precision and playful nature make the BRZ a winner all around autocross circuits, but the mechanical upgrades pay dividends even at higher speeds. On a 1.5-mile track at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, the BRZ just rocks. The retuned steering is a bit lighter than before, but no less responsive and there’s enough leanness in the chassis to keep you clear of the traction level at each corner. Get into very hot turns and the BRZ will let you make quick mid-corner corrections without killing the vibe, which really helps boost driver confidence, making it a perfect circuit car for amateurs and skilled track rats alike .

Strong low-end power obviates the need for downshifts, which means you don’t need to call up second gear to climb Lime Rock’s steep hillside. The great sight lines ensure you’ll never miss a top, either, as the sheetmetal bulges above the headlamps act as markers to make it easy to position your front wheels.

The 7-inch digital instrument cluster and 8-inch infotainment screen bring more technology to the cabin of the BRZ.

Michael Schaefer/Subaru

Off the track, the BRZ is the ultimate peach. This is a car that you can exploit at a legal speed on public roads without the fear of losing your license or going into a ditch. It’s a car that begs you to drive it, but it never requires you to exceed your personal limits. Here the dog’s tail never wags; The BRZ is a car that is absolutely fun at any speed.

It’s also easy to live with, thanks to a few worthwhile updates to the interior and onboard technology. The comfortable, supportive seats keep your butt firmly in place and all of the BRZ’s controls are easy to find and reach while driving. A new 7-inch digital instrument cluster is the primary version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment technology with standard (wired) in and standard (wired) 8-inch central screen that can be customized to your liking. apple carplay And android auto. Subaru’s iSight driver-assistance suite makes its way to the BRZ for 2022, as well, offering adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning, though these features are only available with the optional automatic transmission . Manual cars aren’t entirely tech-free, however, with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert standard on the higher-end BRZ Limited.

You’ll still be able to snag the 2022 BRZ for under $30,000, making it a relative bargain among sports cars. The entry-level BRZ Premium is priced at $28,955, which includes $960 for destination and the addition of automatic transmission and iSight technology brings the price to $30,555. Springing for the Limited will set you back a very reasonable $31,455 with the manual or $33,255 with the automatic. Those prices are in line with major competitors like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and of course the Toyota GR86.

It’s a cute thing.

Michael Schaefer/Subaru

Speaking of the GR86, while the two coupes are mostly similar, there are some differences that are worth noting. Subaru says the BRZ has a unique steering tune, as well as distinctive damper settings and stabilizer bars, though without driving the Toyobaru twins back to back, it’s hard to say whether these variables make a noticeable difference on the road. . Similarly, while the BRZ and GR86 look a lot alike, the Toyota gets a bigger grille while the Subaru gets an extended LED running light. Both the cars are beautiful with clean body surfacing and excellent overall proportions. Me? I think the GR86 is pretty with a nose. (literally.)

When sales go on sale this fall, the new BRZ will continue to deliver great fun for a small price. Updates for the 2022 model year don’t change the overall ethos of the coupe, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Why fix what ain’t broke? With a pure driver’s car like the BRZ, it’s important to reinforce that greatness.


Editor’s Note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The decisions and opinions of Roadshow staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.

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