2022 Subaru BRZ: First Drive Review
When Subaru debuted the all-new 2022 BRZ last fall during a press event at Thermal Club Raceway in Thermal, California, the attending press got an eye-opening preview of what to expect from the new model. Sadly that preview was not from the driver’s seat, but from the right seat with Scott Speed — former Formula One and NASCAR Cup driver and current Subaru Motorsports USA driver — in the hot seat. Since then we have been patiently awaiting our turn behind the wheel, and that wait ended the fourth week of August when the automaker invited us to test the 2022 Subaru BRZ on track at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
2022 Subaru BRZ Lineup
The 2022 Subaru Limited will be offered in two trim levels: Premium and Limited. The BRZ Premium starts at $27,995 with a manual transmission and $29,595 with an automatic. The BRZ Limited is $30,495 with a manual and $32,295 with an automatic. Prices do not include a destination and delivery charge of $960, which may vary in some states.
2022 Subaru BRZ Premium
The 2022 Subaru BRZ Premium comes equipped with a Torsen limited-slip differential, vehicle stability control with track mode, 17-inch alloy wheels with a dark gray finish and Michelin Primacy HP tires. Additional standard equipment includes keyless access with pushbutton start, LED headlights with automatic height adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, black upholstery with red stitching, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter boot and parking brake boot. When equipped with the automatic transmission, the BRZ Premium also receives Subaru EyeSight driver-assist technologies.
2022 Subaru BRZ Limited
The BRZ Limited adds 18-inch matte gray alloy wheels; Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires; Ultrasuede seats with leather bolsters and red leather accents; BRIN NAUB accents on the instrument panel visor and door trim; blind-spot detection with lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alert; Steering Responsive Headlights; and STARLINK Safety and Security. When equipped with the automatic transmission, the BRZ Limited also adds Subaru EyeSight driver-assist technologies and reverse automatic braking.
Under the Hood
The rear-wheel-drive 2022 Subaru BRZ has a new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine that produces 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 23 horsepower and 33 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing model. Peak horsepower comes at 7000 rpm (redline) with full torque starting at 3700 rpm. The new engine gets paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters and a new Sport mode that improves downshifts with automatic rev matching.
The original Subaru BRZ debuted as a 2013 model and underwent a styling refresh for 2017; the 2022 BRZ is the first major update since the model launched. This new BRZ is more than an inch longer and almost half an inch wider than its predecessor, and a new front end emphasizes the width with a low grille and wide frontal area with wide, functional air intakes at each edge. The front fenders include functional side vents that reduce drag by extracting air from under the hood and fenders, with air directed to a side sill that creates downforce at speed.
The narrow greenhouse of the 2022 Subaru BRZ accentuates its bold fenders, and the roof features a subtle double-bubble shape. At the rear of the car, the fenders flow into a new taillight design and rear valance with dual exhaust. The upper rear shoulders and rear glass result in a short decklid with an upturned ducktail rear spoiler.
Light Weight, Fun Driver
The 2022 BRZ continues its value proposition as a lightweight, sporty car that is both practical and affordable. The new chassis is 50 percent more rigid than the previous model and the center of gravity is actually lower as well, with a nearly perfect front-to-rear weight distribution. The front suspension features custom-designed MacPherson-type struts with coil springs to keep the weight low and optimize the hoodline. A new reinforced mounting system for the chassis, front sub-frame and other connection points increases front rigidity for improved turn-in and steering response. The new vehicle stability control systems has five settings, and it can even be turned off completely to give the driver full control.
Inside, the redesigned 2022 Subaru BRZ focuses on the driver via a new customizable 7-inch digital dashboard, featuring a tachometer with an integrated digital speedometer as the focal point. To the left of the tachometer is a programmable area that can be changed to show amps, water temperature or a g-meter. When the driver selects Track mode, the tachometer shifts to a linear graph with a color display.
From the Driver’s Seat
The interior of the 2022 BRZ keeps the focus on the driver, with a low seating position, supportive bolsters and red detail stitching. High-strength steel in the new BRZ keeps the A-, B-, and C-pillars thin, offering the driver excellent visibility for a coupe. At the center of the dash sits an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring the latest SUBARU STARLINK multimedia system that has smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, as well as audio streaming, a rearview camera and SiriusXM.
On the Road
The all-new 2022 Subaru BRZ stays true to the original formula of a lightweight, fun-driving, rear-wheel-drive coupe, retaining superb overall balance and a slick-shifting 6-speed manual. The additional horsepower is welcome, and the additional torque is particularly noticeable in the mid-rpm range where the previous model seemed a little flat. On rough back roads in New York and Connecticut en route to Lime Rock Park, the ride was a little firm, although a fair trade-off for the control and precision experienced on the track.
A Balanced Blast
The 2022 Subaru BRZ remains a blast from the moment the driver slides behind the wheel. Balanced and responsive, the BRZ is a car that any driving enthusiast will enjoy. Add in the back seat and a reasonable amount of trunk space and the BRZ even becomes practical — for a small, 2-door coupe. Fold down the rear seat and there’s enough room to carry a second set of wheels and tires to the track or autocross course.
When we arrived at Lime Rock Park the fun really began, with the opportunity to drive the BRZ Premium with automatic and BRZ Limited with 6-speed manual on both a smaller autocross course and the high-speed road course. On both courses, the BRZ proved to be highly balanced and predictable, as well as confidence inspiring for an average driver. At the autocross course, the BRZ Premium on the Primacy HP tires made it easy to carry a little too much speed into the tight corners, resulting in predicable and safe understeer. Selecting Track mode made it equally easy to swing the back end out under acceleration while exiting tight turns.
Moving to the larger track at Lime Rock, the BRZ’s precise steering became even more noteworthy, although it was still easy to enter turns a little too fast. When slowing the car enough for the front tires to grip, the BRZ turns in well and rotates into corners with predictability. The automatic transmission also works well in Sport or Track mode, holding a gear through a corner without any unexpected upshifts or downshifts.
Our first experience with the BRZ Limited occurred on the Lime Rock road course, and the difference in tires became apparent from the first turn. The Pilot Sport 4 tires offer more grip and their slightly shorter sidewalls make them more responsive. The additional grip makes the car a bit quicker through the turns. The 6-speed manual shifts easily with short, precise throws between gears — enthusiast drivers will likely appreciate the crisp manual gearbox over the automatic transmission.
On both the road course and the autocross course, the 2022 Subaru BRZ proved its everyday approachability even for less experienced drivers, making it a nearly perfect entry sports car. Overall, the BRZ feels well balanced, particularly in transitions from side-to-side between corners, and the car remains incredibly stable under hard braking. The BRZ instills driver confidence and will continue to be fun as a driver’s skills improve.
Right for You?
Enthusiast drivers can spend more money on a car that is faster, more powerful, more prestigious — but not more fun than the 2022 Subaru BRZ. The small, sporty BRZ offers some level of practicality with a rear seat and reasonable trunk room. We like the updated design, which distinguishes it from the first generation but retains the original look without too much additional flair. Scheduled to go on sale this fall, the 2022 Subaru BRZ is a logical choice for an enthusiast driver seeking a sports car that will also be easy to live with every day.
Pros: More power; improved handling; retains light weight, overall balance.
Cons: Still no turbo engine; design too conservative for some.
Bottom Line: A thrill to drive, BRZ remains a great choice as an entry sports car.
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