Review: The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS that comes in 500 track-ready limited editions
The Subaru BRZ is a fun, low-cost little rear-drive sports car. For 2018, the Subaru BRZ gets a special edition tS model, of which only 500 will be built. A true enthusiast's and driver's car, the BRZ rides on the ideal of an accessible, well-balanced, fun-driving sport coupe. And it succeeds admirably at that.
The BRZ is produced in collaboration with Toyota, which markets the car as the 86. The two are nearly identical in every way, with only nuances within the cabin and manufacturer marquees on the cars differentiating them. The collaboration has produced great little cars as entry-level coupes capable of much more than their on-paper specs might suggest. Yet that collaboration has also meant limits. Namely, what the companies could do to boost the potential upper-end sales of the cars to those with a little more to spend for a lot more muscle.
Those limits have only affected the nay-sayers, it appears, as buyers of the BRZ and FR-S/86 seem to universally love their little coupes. There's reason for that. A little time behind the wheel of one of these cars proves their fun nature and ready-for-action appeal to be trustworthy and genuine. For the 2018 model year, the Subaru BRZ has a limited-edition tS model that adds even more to the mix. Next year, Toyota will offer the same packaging as the 86 TRD Special Edition.
The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS was announced in 2017 as coming for this year. Aesthetically, the package adds a carbon fiber rear aero wing atop two upside-down V-shaped metal braces. Those braces are designed to allow fine-tuning to the spoiler for various performance tweaks, such as added downforce at speed or around corners. Observers will also note larger wheels and additional side skirts on the BRZ tS.
The wheels are the biggest yet on a BRZ, at 18 inches, made of lightweight aluminum alloy and fitted with top-shelf Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires that measure a thin sidewall and wide track at 215/40. Red accents around the car mark its STI heritage and build.
Underneath the exterior changes are more impressive changes to the chassis. The greatest of those are the SACHS dampers and coil springs that have been tuned by STI for the BRZ tS. Flexible V-braces in the engine compartment add rigidity to the car and augment draw stiffeners around the chassis and subframe for the same result. Brembo brakes are added as well, boosting stopping power and longevity under duress.
The interior of the 2018 Subaru BRZ tS is similar to a BRZ Limited model, but adds some tS logos stitched to the seats and red seatbelts, a common mark for all STI-tuned models. Those who are disappointed that the low-cost little BRZ hasn't been fitted with more engine power (via turbocharging or the like) can take solace in the fact that the car remains sub-US$35,000 and is very ready for slap-on components from the WRX/STI catalog as the 2.0-liter boxer-style four sees plenty of talk in the Subaru fan forums.
What really makes the 2018 Subaru BRZ tS shine, in our eyes, is its extreme amounts of fun when driven. It's not uber-fast like a European sports car with turbos and tricks, nor is it nearly as expensive as those cars can be. Instead, the BRZ offers the basics to get a sports car enthusiast up and running as a serious driver, offering a strong platform for learning how to carve curves, drift sharp track corners, and three-pedal a strong starting jump. From there, the BRZ can be upgraded over time to add more muscle, more finesse, and more goodness.
During our week with the little car, which produces 205 hp (152 kW) with the six-speed manual transmission and its stiff, responsive clutch, we had a blast ramping up RPM through corners, onto freeway onramps, and around the long, empty highways that populate Wyoming. There is a lot of fun to be had in this car and the tS package adds a host of upgrades that should get any amateur track enthusiast excited about the possibilities. Pitted against more muscular, heavier cars, the BRZ tS can hold its own if the driver has learned how to control the car well.
The little BRZ begs to be heal-toed, goosed, and spun through corners on a level that matches any far more expensive sports coupe that can be named. Taken as the entry-level, beginner's car that it is, with upgrade possibilities being nearly limitless, the Subaru BRZ is a seriously joyous car.
The 2018 BRZ tS model has a starting price of $33,495 and is available in three distinctive colors to match its STI roots.
Product Page: 2018 Subaru BRZ tS