2022 Subaru BRZ Review - Proof That Second Chances Are Well Worth It
Subaru ups the ante with the latest BRZ. So how did the sequel turn out?by Brady Holt, on LISTEN 09:17
Subaru didn’t have to change much about the BRZ. Since its debut in 2013, it has been almost in a class by itself — and a highly desirable one at that. Still, it wasn’t quite perfect. The interior was basic and dated, and not in an endearing way. The cabin was buzzy on the highway. There was basically no visual distinction from its Toyota 86 twin. And while its 200 horsepower was just right for some tastes, others felt the ideal output could be higher. Fix those things without wrecking something else, and the BRZ would be just about perfect, at least for someone who wants that type of vehicle.
There was no promise though that we’d even get a second generation. Toyota and Subaru could have put their development dollars somewhere else rather than on a low-volume affordable sports coupe. But sure enough, a redesigned BRZ (and a renamed Toyota GR86) hit the market for 2022, priced from $27,995. Subaru could have badly screwed up this redesign, especially from an enthusiast perspective where it could have diluted the BRZ’s appeal while chasing other mainstream rivals. But thankfully, that isn’t the case and if you liked the old BRZ, you’ll probably like the new one even more.
2022 Subaru BRZ Performance
Under the hood, Subaru provides the most obvious change, and it’s another partial victory. However, folks who wanted a bit more power can rejoice, but those who wanted a lot more power will need to solve that in the aftermarket
The new engine is a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque — nothing incredible, even in a fairly light sports coupe, but a nice bump from the previous generation’s 2.0-liter with 200 to 205 horsepower and 151 to 156 pound-feet of torque. The result is that you reach 60 mph about half a second sooner (in about 6 seconds with the six-speed manual or a little under seven seconds with the six-speed automatic).
As for gas mileage, it is a weak point: 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined with the automatic transmission and 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined with the manual in EPA testing. What’s more, the BRZ requires premium fuel. Our manual test car beat those estimates to average 29 mpg, but that’s still nothing amazing for a small car. A bigger 310-horsepower Ford Mustang does even better.
|Displacement||2.0 L Boxer|
|Transmission||6-speed Manual / Automatic|
|Top Speed||140 mph|
|Mileage||20 City / 27 Hwy / 22 Combined|
Many reviewers remain smitten by the BRZ’s steering and manual transmission. To our recollection, while each remains good, they seem to have lost some of the previous generation’s extra-awesome precision — still better than nearly any other new car, but not meeting our extremely high expectations
Coming to the way the BRZ drives, whether it’s due to the bigger engine or some additional sound mitigation, the BRZ is now calmer, quieter, and less tinny on the highway than before. And if you buy an automatic transmission, you now get Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assistance; with a manual, you still have to steer, accelerate, and brake on your own.
As for how it steers compared to the Miata, which we prefer, by the way, the Subaru’s steering is more gentle than razor-sharp until about 40 to 50 mph; that can be convenient, while the Miata is a delight at any speed. What’s more, to us, the Mazda’s open-top experience is perfect for a car designed to be more subjectively fun than objectively fast. Even if it could be a little better in a few ways, what alternatives do you really have?
Sure, you can get fun little front-drivers like a Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S, or Hyundai Veloster N for a similar price to the BRZ. And the two-seat MX-5 convertible is another rear-drive delight, that Mazda refuses to give up on.
Also, there’s minimal difference between the BRZ and its Toyota GR86 twin; you can see which dealer will cut you a better deal or have the right color available. But the two companies didn’t take this opportunity to offer appreciably different takes on the same bones. But this combination of handling-biased performance and classic two-door styling, paired with a tiny but potentially valuable backseat, helps the BRZ stand apart.
Subaru could have also improved the BRZ’s appeal by distinguishing itself from the Toyota GR86
The exterior styling is instantly recognizable as a BRZ. The front end is stubbier and the back is more scalloped, but the main thing is that it’s a smaller, lower car than nearly anything else short of a high-end exotic. Dimensions have budged minimally over last year’s.
We found the old model a bit more upscale-looking, but crucially, Subaru didn’t make it garish — an easy temptation for a performance-focused car. However, it continues to look nearly identical to its Toyota equivalent; the companies didn’t spend any pennies from their development budgets to provide unique front or rear ends.
Interior Quality and Technology
Materials improved a bit, and the controls are user-friendly, but we’d have picked a different aesthetic. The interior has caught up with the times a bit without making anything worse, but there was more room for improvement
The interior has modernized a bit. The in-dash touchscreen now measures 8.0 inches instead of 7.0 inches, (a welcome upgrade) and the gauge cluster has become digital (which we could have done without). The dashboard is all straight lines instead of the old car’s curves, but in a blocky way that’s neither graceful nor sports-car minimalist.
As before, the front seats are agreeably comfortable and generously bolstered. The driver gets six-way manual adjustments, with no option for power seats. Cloth upholstery is standard on the base Premium model, while our tested Limited has a mix of leather and grippy suede.
There’s a tiny rear seat, hardly comfortable but workable for emergencies or for additional cabin storage. The trunk has 6.3 cubic feet, smaller than nearly any other mainstream-priced car on the market.
2022 Subaru BRZ Price and Availibiity
The redesigned BRZ starts at $27,995 for the base Premium model and $30,495 for the top Limited. Both models are well-equipped with features that include automatic climate control, push-button starting, an 8-inch touchscreen, and a limited-slip rear differential.
The Limited upgrades from cloth upholstery to suede and leather; 17-inch wheels to 18-inchers; and a six-speaker stereo to an eight-speaker. It also adds heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, and steering-adaptive headlights. An automatic transmission, plus the EyeSight suite, costs an extra $1,600.
No matter how much you spend, the BRZ isn’t available with a sunroof, GPS navigation, power-adjustable seats, or full-leather upholstery. This isn’t a luxury car, and Subaru won’t pretend otherwise.
Light, sleek, rear-wheel drive, two-door, and relatively affordable, the BRZ is a car built for driving purity in a world that favors sensible crossovers
The BRZ is quick because it’s small, rather than because it’s turbocharged. It picks the engagement of a traditional manual transmission over the on-paper advantage of a dual-clutch automatic (a conventional automatic is also available) and it prioritizes handling over advanced technology.
Areas for improvement? Well, Subaru could have shaped the interior into something more interesting. Even with its improved refinement, infotainment, and advanced driver aids, it’s still an authentic performance machine with the compromises that entails.
In other words, with its tiny rear seat and trunk and high fuel costs, the BRZ isn’t for someone merely looking for a successor to their old Civic LX coupe. While it is faster than before, it also won’t be your first pick for straight-line speed (Subaru can offer you a WRX when you prefer brawn over poise).
So, if you’re just looking for a neat-looking car, the BRZ might not be for you. But if you want a car in this niche, every complaint is a nitpick, especially if you disagree with us about the BRZ’s steering and shifter. It’s exciting that something like the BRZ exists, and we applaud Subaru for continuing to make it — and for boosting its power in the bargain.