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

The Subaru BRZ is a sports car that clicks instantly. Affordable, forgiving, and a blast and a half to drive, the BRZ’s inherent friendliness is certainly its best attribute and is what makes this new version so damn easy to appreciate.

Overall, the formula hasn’t changed: front engine, rear wheel drive and attention above all to lightness and agility. Dimensionally speaking, the new BRZ is 1.2 inches longer than its predecessor and 0.4 inches shorter in height. It’s also only 17 pounds heavier – just 2,815 pounds in its lightest specification – despite having a larger engine and more comfort on board.

Subaru led the engineering development for the new BRZ e Toyota GR86 coupe, which explains why the new fraternal twins engine is actually quite familiar. The 2.4-liter flat-4 is a turbo-free version of the engine Subaru uses in the Ascent, Inheritance and Outback, producing 228 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque. Those are gains of 23hp and 28lb-ft over the 2.0-liter engine from the outgoing BRZ, but most importantly, maximum torque is delivered much lower in the rev range: 3,700 rpm instead of 6,400.

Now, before you rush to the comments section and complain about the continued lack of a turbocharger, do yourself a favor and actually drive the BRZ. I love the linear and predictable power delivery that is only achieved with a naturally aspirated engine, and being able to keep the engine constantly buzzing at high revs is an essential part of the BRZ experience. Plus, with the 2.4’s better torque curve, low-end power is less of a problem now.

The BRZ’s new engine is best matched with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, though Subaru offers an optional six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted shift levers. The automatic is … well, it does its business smoothly and smoothly. But the manual is really where it is, with a tactile, notched shift gate and perfectly weighted clutch. I wouldn’t buy a BRZ any other way and, apparently, I’m far from alone. Subaru claims the BRZ has a 75% utilization rate for manual transmission, which may actually be one of, if not the highest, in the U.S. auto industry (for cars offering both types of gearboxes, of course. ). Interestingly, with the Toyota 86, the acquisition rate is only 46% and with the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is 58%. Heck, even the Porsche 911 GT3 falls behind with 70% manual mixing.

Here we see the BRZ in its natural habitat.

Michael Shaffer / Subaru

While I’m talking about percentages, the BRZ 2022 has a 50% increase in torsional stiffness, 7% stiffer front springs, and 11% softer rear springs, which helps keep this car well balanced. The base BRZ Premium is fitted with 17-inch wheels with 215/45 series Michelin Primacy summer tires, while the higher-level BRZ Limited is fitted with 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 215/40 tires. This latter wheel / tire setup offers enough grip to let the BRZ cling during high-speed cornering, but not so much to kill your buzz if you’re in the mood for some fun. Turn on the throttle as you exit a corner and the BRZ will happily slip a skosh, giving you plenty of time to correct oversteer (or not) before the traction control pulls you back into line. Do you want to show your chops adrift? Disable traction control in Track mode; the BRZ has no problem keeping the long sides out of the corners with a thin plume of smoke in its wake.

This playful precision and fluttering nature make the BRZ a champion on an autocross circuit, but mechanical upgrades pay dividends even at higher speeds. On the 1.5-mile trail at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, the BRZ simply rocks. The recalibrated steering is a little lighter than before, but no less responsive, and the frame has enough lean to keep you clearly in step with the level of traction at every turn. Enter a corner that is too hot and the BRZ will allow you to make quick mid-corner corrections without killing the atmosphere, which really helps build driver confidence, making this a great circuit machine for both amateurs and racers alike. experienced track mice.

The strong power at low revs reduces the need to downshift, which means you don’t need to recall second gear to climb the steep Lime Rock hill. The large lines of sight ensure that you will never miss a single apex, the sheet metal bulges above the headlights act as indicators that facilitate the positioning of the front wheels.

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

Michael Shaffer / Subaru

Off-piste, the BRZ is an absolute fishing. It’s a car you can take advantage of at legal speeds on public roads without the fear of losing your license or oversteering in a ditch. It’s a car that begs you to hurry but never forces you to go beyond your personal limits. The tail never wags the dog here; the BRZ is a car that is simply fun at any speed.

It’s also easier to live with, thanks to some significant updates to the interior and on-board technology. Comfortable, supportive seats keep your seat securely in place and all of the BRZ’s controls are easy to find and reach while driving. A new 7-inch digital instrument cluster can be customized to your liking and the 8-inch center screen has a rudimentary version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment technology, with standard (wired) Apple CarPlay And Android Auto. Subaru’s EyeSight driving assistance suite also comes to the BRZ for 2022, 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 totally devoid of technology, however, with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning standard on the higher-tier BRZ Limited.

You’ll still be able to get a 2022 BRZ for under $ 30,000, making it a relative bargain among sports cars. The entry-level BRZ Premium costs $ 28,955 including $ 960 for the destination, and the addition of automatic transmission and EyeSight technology raises the price to $ 30,555. Leaping forward for the Limited will earn you a very reasonable $ 31,455 with the manual or $ 33,255 with the automatic. These prices align favorably with major competitors such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and, of course, the Toyota GR 86.

It’s a nice thing.

Michael Shaffer / Subaru

Speaking of the GR 86, while the two coupes are mostly identical, there are a few differences worth mentioning. Subaru claims that the BRZ has a unique steering tune, as well as specific shock absorber settings and stabilizer bars, although without driving the Toyobaru twins one behind the other, it’s hard to say whether these variables make a noticeable difference on the road. Similarly, while the BRZ and GR 86 look a lot alike, the Toyota has a larger grille while the Subaru has an extended LED running light. Both cars are beautiful, with a clean body and excellent overall proportions. Myself? I think the GR 86 is cuter than a nose. (Literally.)

When it goes on sale this fall, the new BRZ will continue to offer great fun for a small price. Model year 2022 updates don’t change the overall coupe ethic, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Why fix what isn’t broken? With a pure driver car like the BRZ, reinforcing this greatness is key.


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