Review: 2022 Subaru BRZ continues the rear-driven goodness
The Subaru BRZ, and its twin the Toyota 86, has been redesigned as a second generation of the entry-level sports car. Its engine is now Subaru’s 2.4-liter, and the interior gets a little more upscale and driver-focused ... but the car’s "starter race car kit" motif remains intact.
At a glance
- New changes include a bigger engine
- Manual transmission is a focal point
- No extended driver's aids or safety systems without automatic transmission
- Excellent entry-level sports car
The big changes to the BRZ don’t come with adding bigness to the car. Dimensional changes were minute, with most of the emphasis being on a few exterior design tweaks, the more powerful 2.4L engine, and rear-wheel drive design. The BRZ as a sports coupe remains affordable, driver-centric, and fun at every turn. The little car is still a driftaholic’s dream, and begs the beginner to learn the chops and start adding stuff to make it a race car.
The 2.0-liter engine of the previous-gen BRZ has been replaced with a 2.4-liter horizontally-opposed flat four (aka "Boxer") that produces 228 horsepower (170 kW) and 184 pound-feet (249.5 Nm) of torque. Those are an increase of 23 and 28 respectively. The 2.4 is also smoother in its delivery, and brings better mid-RPM performance. Exhaust tuning on the new Subaru BRZ is also better, improving the sound coming from that engine.
A few tweaks to chassis and suspension, such as tighter arms and different dampers, bring better handling. Summer tires are the default for the BRZ, which made our test driving in winter weather a challenge, but it was still fun.
It’s worth nothing that Subaru began production of the 2022 BRZ with the six-speed manual model, and didn’t begin production of the continuously variable automatic until later in the cycle. That’s a good note, as most buyers are likely to be wanting that manual transmission to go with their sports car – and we don’t blame them. True to the Subaru name, the manual shifter has a positive clutch that’s easy to get a feel for, and a short shift throw getting from one to the next. Tellingly, however, the advanced driver assistance and safety items that come with the EyeSight system are not available on the manual transmission model.
Out of the box, the new Subaru BRZ is a load of fun to drive. Direct-to-the-wheels steering gives a lot of feedback and an innate understanding of where the tires are at all times. Shifting is quick and smooth. The light weight of the car (under 2,900 lb/1,315 kg) and rear-wheel propulsion mean that it loves to slide when given the chance. Most drivers should be able to pull off a 6-second 0-60 mph (92 km/h) sprint once they’re familiar with the car. Better, though, the BRZ will take corners and remain stable at unexpectedly high speeds. In short: it’s a driver’s car made for fun.
When the time comes to shave that sprint time down or add more top-end power, the engine is extremely upgradable. It’s the same engine as found in the WRX sports sedan, and virtually begs for a turbocharger from STI be bolted into place. Online forums and enthusiast groups are full of people who’ve done this with their previous-generation BRZ, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue with this new one.
Of course, the 2022 BRZ is a sports car, so its ride is stiff and can be harsh – noise levels are also pretty high when on the highway. The niceties of an everyday car are either diminished or missing from the BRZ as well. The infotainment system is upgraded and more modern, but still falls short of what most of today’s models are equipped with. Added is dual-zone climate and better seat bolstering for a little more comfort, though, and every control in the car is easily accessible and quickly learned, so looking away from the road becomes optional.
The rear seats in the new Subaru BRZ are mainly for looks and laughs, being largely useless for anything but a briefcase or comic book. The trunk is similarly compact, though more accommodating than some might assume given the car’s size. We fit four 40-lb (18-kg) bags of heating pellets in there without any stuffing.
Additionally, we would recommend that anyone considering the BRZ also factor in the cost of a new audio system. Even the best option for the car doesn’t keep up with the noise levels very well. You’ll need better speakers for the mid- and low-range sounds to come through. The high parts will be lost to the road no matter what you do. But considering the low price of entry for the BRZ, that’s an acceptable compromise.
Starting price for the 2022 Subaru BRZ is US$27,995 plus delivery. That’s a solid entry point into sports car happiness. This car is some of the most fun to be had on a budget.
Product Page: 2022 Subaru BRZ