Once upon a time, Subaru and Toyota had a baby and it was a beautiful, bouncing sports car. It just had its glow-up in 2022 and the all-new BRZ is all grown up.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens. There are always more photos at the end of my reviews.
Pricing: 2022 Subaru BRZ
Base price (Sport-tech 6MT trim): $32,495
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $34,320
The Subaru BRZ has been an authentic sports car from day one, and the all-new 2022 model ratchets things up in every category.
The restyling of the low-slung BRZ brings about some much-needed aggression and muscle that makes it look slightly less cartoonish and all the more menacing, while retaining its friendly face. It’s a nice blend of brawn and beauty and it got looks wherever I went. I’m certain the stunning World Rally Blue Pearl paint had plenty to do with that as well.
I enjoyed the little touches to spice things up – there’s an outlet vent behind the front fender, a little flair on the rear edge of the back fender and a delightful integrated lip on the trunk lid.
The headlight pods contain LED headlights and small LED strips as signature lights, as do the tail lights.
Filling out the wheel wells are stunning 18-inch 10-spoke rims shod with high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
The interior styling is all business. There’s a combination of hard and soft-touch surfaces, with some ultrasuede panels and some contrasting red stitching thrown in to liven things up a bit.
The manually adjustable heated leather seats with Ultrasuede inserts are more comfortable now, and still have track-ready bolstering that keep the driver and passenger in place during even the most aggressive driving. There’s a notable amount of headroom in the front – it’s designed to accommodate a helmet on track days.
The steering wheel is grippy and delightful to use – behind it is a digital dash comprised of a customizable information screen on the left, a digital tach and speedo in the middle and a static display on the right, which includes a clock, outside and coolant temperatures and fuel level.
An 8-inch touchscreen system dominates the upper dash – below it is climate control system with a series of interesting toggle-style switches below the three rotary control knobs. The 8-speaker “premium” sound system is decent, but nothing that stands out and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work nicely here.
There are some driver assistance technology systems here, including blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, the required back-up camera and side and rear vehicle detection but if you want Subaru’s full suite of tech bells and whistles, you need to step up to the Eye-Sight-equipped trim.
These are basically not worth mentioning. While this is a 2 + 2 sports coupe, these seats are best left to amputees and well-behaved dogs. There are two seats, and even my tween kids were extremely uncomfortable back there, with our front seats up about as far as we could put them comfortably. Woe to those who are relegated to spend any time back there.
Hilariously, there are two set of child seat anchors too – this is not the car I would choose to transport little ones, but I suppose you can if need be.
There’s not a lot of it. A large glove box and some usable door bins, as well as a small bin under the armrest’s clamshell lid – where you’ll also find an auxiliary plug and two USB ports. In there are the two cupholders as well, which are completely inconvenient as they are essentially behind your elbow.
There’s an electronic trunk release, activated by buttons on the dash, the trunk lid or the key fob. Although the trunk appears tiny (178L), we folded the rear seatback down and did an honest-to-goodness Costco shopping run in the BRZ. It’s no crossover, but it does what it needs to do.
Under the Hood
The original BRZ was amazing, but a common complaint was that it felt underpowered to many drivers. I agree with that sentiment. The new BRZ’s motivation comes from a 2.4L horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder boxer engine, putting out 228 HP (at a soaring 7,000 RPM) and 184 lb.ft of torque at 3,700 RPM. My review sample was blessed with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission, and the car comes solely as rear-wheel drive.
This combination is rated at 12/8.8 L/100 km (city/highway).
Here is why one buys a BRZ. While I could argue that, in some situations it could do with yet more power – not a lot, just another 30 or so HP and lb.ft of torque – the new powertrain is a massive improvement. It’s quick enough off the line, and holds its own in any driving situation – while the numbers aren’t going to make any jaws drop, the power-to-weight ratio is what matters here. There are only 2,857 pounds to push around here (that’s 1296kg). That’s lighter than most things on the road these days.
The transmission’s shifting is not as smooth nor does the clutch take up as forgivingly as something like a Honda Civic, but there is a wonderful mechanical and robust nature to it that connects you to the engine, chassis and the road in a way few cars do anymore. It’s easy enough to drive smoothly, but its short throws can also be banged through the gears from high revs – it’s happy to play either way, and that makes it a much more effective sports car. Of note, the dead pedal placement is flawless.
But the real story is, and always has been, the chassis – it’s all-new on the 2022 BRZ and better than ever. The rigidity of the entire unit is augmented by a perfectly balanced sport suspension. While riding firmly, it never got uncomfortable and still soaks up road imperfections nicely – but it’s the handling that we’re here for. The BRZ stays nearly perfectly flat through corners, regardless of the speed you’re turning in at, and the traction is flawless. You can carry a tremendous amount of speed into tight corners or long sweepers, knowing the car will stick to pavement like Gorilla Glue.
Want to invoke some oversteer and kick the rear end out (on a track, where it’s safe to do so, of course!)? Not a problem – the BRZ and its limited slip differential are happy to comply, provided you have either defeated the traction control – not a great idea for most drivers – or held the track mode button down. This adjusts the sensitivity of the traction control – it doesn’t completely turn it off, but allows for more tire slippage – and changes your digital dash to a more performance-oriented display including a semi-linear tachometer, a change I don’t love.
And through it all, regardless of what you’re doing, you can’t help but marvel at the nearly perfect steering – it’s precise, direct, incredibly responsive and offers plenty of feedback so you know exactly what you and your car are doing.
The brakes are powerful, easy to modulate and work as well for commuting as they do for high-speed maneuvers.
I’ve covered everything that really matters. Is the BRZ driving experience perfect? No, it’s not. The blind spots are killer, and there can be a tremendous amount of road noise, pending on the surface. This stuff doesn’t matter unless you intend this to be a road-tripper and the road noise thing is a deal-breaker.
I generally don’t have too many complaints, as most cars these days are very good. The BRZ is very good, but one thing that stood out to me and any passengers I carried was that the automatic climate control system is a disaster in the BRZ I reviewed. I am the kind of person that loves automatic climate control – and generally I set one temperature and leave it that way for the entire year – perhaps on rare occasions it gets adjusted by half a degree, but that’s about it. That’s how my own car works, and how most other cars work.
The BRZ did not. It blew hot air on hot days, cold air on cold mornings, and everything in between. It seemed it got things horribly wrong at least half of the time, if not more often. I’m wondering if this is an electronics or sensor issue because the system also worked properly about half of the time. A real head-scratcher.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was super, super low. She didn’t like that her big hair doesn’t have enough clearance inside, she didn’t like the manual transmission (which she can not drive), she didn’t like how squished it felt inside, she didn’t like the overly firm suspension or how I drove because of that suspension.
Now, to be clear, all the things my wife didn’t like about the BRZ are the exact reasons someone would buy the BRZ. This is a sports car, through and through. Pure, unadulterated and, for the most part, uncompromising sports car. Nothing more, nothing less. It does exactly what it promises.
So if you’re looking for a compact, lightweight rear-wheel drive car that seats two in relative comfort and excels at handling, feeling connected to the road and generally being a blast to drive in any situation, the BRZ is the car for you. I love this thing.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Subaru Canada.
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