First Impressions – 2022 Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ is an oddity for sure. As the sole model in Subaru’s lineup that isn’t equipped with all-wheel-drive (standard or optional), it’s difficult to see how it fits in with the “sensible” models. But it’s an oddity that we enthusiasts are all glad exists, even as partner Toyota considered pulling the plug (blame the crossover-craze for hurting the sports car market). But with the new GR Supra now a thing and Toyota’s desire to slot the reborn 86 underneath, Subaru has redesigned the BRZ for the 2022 model and addressed one of the biggest complaints hurled at the current Toyobaru twins.

That my friends, is power, or lack thereof. At 200-hp, the current BRZ was never a straight-line screamer, but was certainly fun in the twisties and possessed approachable limits that were fun to exploit. That said, Subie-fans all drooled at the possibility of Subaru one day shoe-horning its WRX-spec turbocharged flat four into the BRZ, creating an STi variant. That never came to pass and while, slightly hotter and track-ready variants were rolled out, the STi moniker was never one of them. For 2022, Subaru heeded the call for more power in the former of a bigger 2.4-liter flat-four. No, it’s not turbocharged, but at 228-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, produces healthy bumps over the previous 2.0-liter. That torque number comes lower in the rpm and nixes the thrashing one had to do to get the old BRZ up and running.

Riding on a beefed up and enhanced version of the previous car’s platform, the new BRZ’s increased stiffness allowed Subaru engineers to tweak the suspension for better handling and ride quality. Weight gain is minimal at 2900-lbs so the BRZ’s go-kart like nature is mostly preserved. Power goes through a standard six-speed manual (#savethemanuals) with a six-speed automatic sporting paddle shifters optional. The automatic in particular gets revised gearing and a new Sport mode with rev-matchimg, more aggressive gear selection and a quicker response. All cars will be equipped with a limited slip differential with base Premium models riding on 17-inch wheels and all-season tires. Limited edition models will arrive shod with a more performance oriented, summer tire option on 18-inch wheels.

The odd exterior styling of the current BRZ is gone, replaced by a more muscular and attractive design. New headlights, a wider main grille with functional brake ducts flanking either side give the new BRZ a premium presence it didn’t have before. It sits a tad lower and while it’s no wider than before, the styling elements enhances the car’s proportions. Squint from a far and you could mistake it for a Jaguar F-Type. Perhaps. The interior has been upgraded dramatically over the old car, with newer materials and a new infotainment system sporting an 8.0-inch touchscreen that doesn’t look like it came from Best Buy. The gauge cluster is now a digital screen with multi-mode functionality. While the backseats are mostly useless, one of the selling points for the old car was that you could fit four racing wheels with tires mounted in the trunk with the seats folded. If your aim is track duty, this feature should serve well. On the safety front, Subaru’s EyeSight safety system as well as its suite of passive and active safety systems will be either standard or available.

The 2022 Subaru BRZ should begin selling sometime in the first or second quarter of 2021 at a price close enough to its predecessor. Part of that affordability was in keeping the car light and resisting the urge to turbocharge. Not that forced-induction won’t be a possibility in the future, but let’s be thankful this car still exists to the sports car market alive for us enthusiasts.

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