The BRZ gets some updating for the 2017 model year

Right around the turn of the decade Subaru and Toyota teamed up to jointly develop a compact, rear-wheel driven sports car. Come 2012, and we were graced with Toyota GT86 and the Subaru BRZ. The same car was also marketed as the FR-S through Toyota’s Scion brand until the brand was dissolved in 2016. For 2017, Subaru has revamped the BRZ to bring some new features to the aging sports car. For starters, the front fascia has been revised, and the car will now come standard with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. BRZ Premium models will now get automatic headlights with automatic adjustment, simulated leather on the center dash trim, daytime running lights, hill start assist, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, body-colored aluminum spoiler, and vehicle stability control. Limited models get even more goodies, including LED fog lights, a new instrument cluster, and the option for paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

The new goodies don’t stop there. Limited trim models can opt for those paddle-shift control switches and a shift lever boot with simulated leather and red stitching. All models equipped with a manual transmission can also be optioned with a new performance package that adds on black alloy wheels, Brembo brake system, and Sachs shock absorbers in the front and rear. As you can see, most of the new goodies come the Premium and Limited trims, but they should help to keep the model fresh until Subaru (and Toyota for that matter) can manage to usher in a new generation for the compact sports car.

So, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive on into the details of the 2017 Subaru BRZ and talk about what will help it prevail until that next generation finally comes to be.

Update 07/14/2016: Subaru is preparing to launch the 2017 Subaru BRZ and, as such, has released pricing information for each model and the optional performance package.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Subaru BRZ.

  • 2017 Subaru BRZ
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    flat-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    205
  • Torque @ RPM:
    156
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.7 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    143 mph
  • Price:
    26000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8/10

Exterior

2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Exterior
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While the BRZ has been refreshed for the 2017 model year, don’t expect to find any huge differences outside. In fact, the word “refreshed” might be a little strong when we’re talking about the exterior. Up front, you’ll find the same hood and the same wide-mouth radiator grille with a long insert running along the top edge. Changes here are limited to the front fascia and the headlights, the latter of which have been revised to have a different look and more dominate LED light strip. The fascia also failed to get a lot of attention, with the only change coming in the form of different corner vents. They are the same shape, but may be a little wider now. Also, the front lip of the fascia now curves upward into the vents to give the vents more of a 3D look. The upper trim levels are also graced with LED fog lamps in these vents as opposed to the circular halogen units on older models.

Changes here are limited to the front fascia and the headlights, the latter of which have been revised to have a different look and more dominate LED light strip.

The sides and rear of the BRZ also have a similar story, with very little styling change whatsoever. The only change on the side of the vehicle are those 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Around back, the upper trim levels get a body-color rear spoiler and full-LED rear taillights. Aside from that, Subaru decided the BRZ was fine the way it was, leaving the same side skirts and rear diffuser and all other exterior styling the same. We were really hoping to see more aggressive styling, and maybe a new body kit all the way around, but maybe Subaru is just saving that for the next generation. Until then, you’re going to have to look into aftermarket body kits if you want the BRZ to stand out in the crowd any more than it already does.

Interior

2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Interior
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2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Interior
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2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Interior
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Inside, you’ll find a lot of the same from previous years, but there are some changes to talk about. Styling-wise, the cabin is identical to the pre-revised model. Premium and Limited trims now have a simulated leather insert with red stitching on the center dash, which replaces the grey-colored plastic insert from previous years and now matches the rest of the interior. Premium trim levels also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel that features red stitching to go with the new audio and Bluetooth controls. In addition to that, the bottom spoke of the steering wheel now has a small slit in the middle to give it more character.

The interior is mostly black with red contrast stitching and silver inserts on the door trim panels, steering wheel, around the shifter boot and on the sides of the center stack

The Limited trim gets Alcantara seat inserts and simulated leather with red stitching on the door trim’s knee pad. The instrument cluster on the limited trim is new and features a 4.2-inch color display that serves as a driver information system. The instrument cluster visor on the limited trim is now wrapped in simulated leather as well. To tie the interior together, the Limited trim also has the BRZ logo embroidered in red on the back of both front seats.

Outside of these changes, the car is identical to the previous model inside. The interior is mostly black with red contrast stitching and silver inserts on the door trim panels, steering wheel, around the shifter boot and on the sides of the center stack. The base model still has the silver trim insert on the center dash as opposed to the simulated leather insert on the higher trim levels. The base model also gets a smaller infotainment display screen, while the upper trim levels get a 6.2-inch Starlink system with smartphone integration for Aha and Pandora. The face of the center stack and infotainment screen is now gloss black, and the rest of the plastic trim now comes in a darker black finish.

It’s really not a whole lot of change for a revised model, but it wasn’t a horrible cabin to begin with. You can’t expect massive change to a sports car that is made to be affordable and track-ready at the same time.

Drivetrain

2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Drivetrain
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This is where Subaru really put in some serious work. The results have yet to be seen, and there aren’t any impressive power gains to talk about, but there’s plenty worth talking about. According to Subaru, the BRZ is “known for its ultra-low center of gravity and precision handling,” so Subaru wanted to play its trump card in this area. As such, the manufacturer updated the coil springs and dampers and installed a larger rear stability bar, which should help improve responsiveness on the road, overall stability, and ride comfort. In addition, the rear wheel housings, transmission cross-member plate, and strut tower braces have all been reinforced, which should help structural rigidity and help prevent body and chassis flex during more extreme maneuvers. To help take advantage of all this work to the chassis, Subaru has raised the thresholds for the stability control system. Subaru claims that the results were “dramatic enough” to change the name of “Sport” driving mode to “Track.”

Engine output on models equipped with a six-speed manual transmission has been increased by five horsepower and five pound-feet of torque for a total output of 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet

Subaru didn’t stop at the chassis, though. That 2.0-liter Boxer engine under the hood also spent some time with engineers to help increase friction reduction. All told, the engine has a redesigned camshaft, new valves, and all new cylinder heads. On top of that, the engine gets a new aluminum intake manifold and a redesigned exhaust manifold for better air flow. Furthermore, engine output on models equipped with a six-speed manual transmission has been increased by five horsepower and five pound-feet of torque for a total output of 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet. Models with the six-speed automatic will still deliver the same 200 ponies and 151 pound-feet of twist. Also, the final drive ratio on the six-speed manual has been dropped from 4.1:1 to 4.3:1 to improve acceleration.

Subaru has yet to release any details on actual performance, but for automatic-equipped models, expect the same 6.7-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 143 mph. On models with the six-speed manual, the 0-to-60 time probably drops down to 6.6 seconds, but with the smaller final drive, the top speed will probably decrease by a couple ticks to 141 mph. Of course, the BRZ is still rear-wheel drive, so at least it has that going for it.

It should also be noted that models equipped with a manual transmission can also be optioned with the “Performance Package,” which is pretty much a must-have if you’re planning on getting to the track with the BRZ. The package includes 17-inch black alloy wheels, Brembo calipers and brakes all the way around, and Sachs performance shock absorbers in the front and rear. These enhancements should help the BRZ perform a little better on the track.

Safety

2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Exterior
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As with other Subaru models on the road, the BRZ has Subaru’s ring-shaped reinforcement body structure that has proven to provide great passenger protection. Furthermore, there are three-point seatbelts for all seats, seatbelt pretensioners, and seatbelt force limiters. The BRZ has Subaru’s advanced frontal airbag system with dual-stage deployment units for the driver and passenger, the front side pelvis/torso airbags, and side curtain airbags.

In addition to the airbag system, all models come standard with stability control and five-mode traction control that includes the new “Track” mode and the ability to turn off traction control altogether. The Premium trim includes auto on/off headlights that also automatically adjust as needed, hill start assist, and a rearview camera. The BRZ Limited trim also adds a security system to the mix.

Prices

There are actually three different versions of the BRZ to choose from for the 2017 model year. The entry-level model – the 2.0 Premium – is only available with a six-speed manual and starts out at $25,495. The range-topping trim, dubbed the 2.0 Limited, is available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic and is priced at $27,645 and $28,745, respectively. There is also a limited-production 2.0 Series Yellow (you can read all about it here.) that is only available with a six-speed manual and will set you back $29,695.

There is also a destination and delivery fee of $820 that will be added to each model price at the time of purchase. There is only one package available – the Performance Package – and it comes at the cost of $1,195. Considering the 2016 model was priced at $25,395, the 2017 model year represents a price increase of just $100.

Model/Trim Transmission Applicable Option Code MSRP MSRP + destination and delivery ($820)
2.0 Premium 6MT 01 $25,495 $26,315
2.0 Limited 6MT 01, 02 $27,645 $28,465
2.0 Limited 6AT 01 $28,745 $29,565
2.0 Series.Yellow 6MT 03 $29,695 $30,515

Competition

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Trying to find a compact coupe that is rear-wheel drive and below the $30,000 threshold is pretty difficult here in the U.S., so I’m looking to the MX-5 Miata as a competitor. Granted, the Miata is a roadster and not a coupe, but it is rear-wheel drive and – as of the time of this writing – is priced at $24,915. It is powered by a 2.0-liter that delivers 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Sure, that’s a little underpowered compared to the BRZ, but don’t let those numbers fool you. The Miata should hit the 60-mph sprint in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. It may be a different body style and have a little less power, but it can hold its own pretty well in the price and performance department.

Read our full review on the Mazda MX-5 Miata here.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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So, eventually the Genesis name will be a luxury/performance arm of Hyundai, but for now, we can look to the Genesis Coupe as a competitor to the Subaru BRZ. It is a bit larger than the BRZ, but it’s still one of the smallest rear-wheel drive coupes you can get. Prior to 2016, it was available with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but for 2016, that engine was dropped and Hyundai is only offering the Genesis coupe with a 3.8-liter V-6. That said, don’t expect the BRZ to beat the Genesis Coupe without putting some work into it first.

With 348 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the Genesis Coupe isn’t something to mess around with, as it boasts a considerable boost in power over the BRZ. The car comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission for $26,950 but can be had with an automatic for $28,150. For an extra 143 horsepower, it might be worth paying the extra $1,000 to go with the Genesis coupe, don’t you think? Either way, the Genesis Coupe should hit the 60 mph in about six seconds and should top out around 155 mph.

Read our full review on the Hyundai Genesis Coupe here.

Conclusion

2017 Subaru BRZ High Resolution Exterior
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I have to say that I’m still really disappointed with Subaru, and Toyota, for that matter. The BRZ is just begging to have a six-cylinder with 350 horsepower crammed under the hood. The car isn’t exactly slow with that 205 horsepower, 2.0-liter under the hood, but it isn’t exactly fast either. The BRZ has a lot of potential, but until it gets some more power, that potential is extremely limited. Furthermore, I hope Subaru is planning a new generational model of BRZ sometime in the near future. This refresh didn’t bring much in the terms of styling or interior features, and to be honest, the overall look is starting to get a little old.

The car is downright begging for more power and more aggressive styling, but until Subaru (and Toyota) realize what they have sitting in front of them, the car will continue with a rather boring powertrain and limited performance. At least for the 2017 model year the engine gets some new internals, and there are some new features to talk about, but I certainly think Subaru could have done more.

  • Leave it
    • * Still significantly underpowered
    • * Exterior styling is old and boring
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