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Did Subaru go far enough with the new 2022 BRZ?

Swapping out the 2.0-litre engine for a 2.4-litre unit means a slightly higher 170kW/249Nm output for the new Subaru BRZ.

There’s no denying the ‘new-generation’ Subaru BRZ shares more than a few similarities with its predecessor, but has the Japanese brand done enough to make it worthy of your consideration?

First of all, we have to applaud Subaru for making the business case stack up to build a successor for – let’s be real here – a niche model.

Here in Australia, the BRZ has found just 297 new home so far this year, making it the second-lowest selling Subaru model behind the Levorg with 291 units sold.

So, it’s a minor miracle that a small brand like Subaru can justify building a rear-drive sports coupe in 2020, even if there are some compromises to be made.

We’ll reserve final judgement on the new BRZ until we actually drive one next year, but on paper, Subaru’s newest sports car has all the ingredients to be another success.

What’s under the bonnet?

Powering the new BRZ is a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated Boxer four-cylinder petrol engine, pumping out 170kW of power and 249Nm of torque.

Although that might not seem like a significant output, the current BRZ uses a 2.0-litre engine that makes 152kW/212Nm when paired with a manual, and 147kW/205Nm when hooked up to an automatic transmission.

This means the new BRZ makes 11 per cent more power and 15 per cent more torque than before, and while it would have been nice to have even higher figures, the BRZ has always been more about its handling prowess than straight-line performance.

Available with both a six-speed manual or automatic transmission with the same number of gears, it remains to be seen if the new BRZ will differ in tune depending on the number of pedals on offer.

When stacked up against rivals such as the Mazda MX-5, which produces 135kW/205Nm in top-spec 2.0-litre form, the BRZ blows it out of the water.

Even against turbocharged hot hatches that share similar price points like the Ford Fiesta ST (147kW/290Nm) and VW Polo GTI (147kW/320Nm) the latest Subie will still hold its own.

Will it drift?

Though Subaru has not confirmed if the new BRZ will be built on a new platform, it is longer, lower and sits on a slightly extended wheelbase when compared to its predecessor.

As before, the new BRZ will send drive to the rear wheels, and is underpinned by MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone rear, both complimented with stabiliser bars.

What’s key though, is the 60 per cent increase in front lateral rigidity and a 50 per cent improvement in torsional stiffness, which means the fun-to-drive characteristic of the BRZ should carryover into the new model.

Grip should also be improved with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, while weight has also been kept low thanks to an aluminium roof, front guards and bonnet, though Subaru is not yet willing to divulge the new BRZ’s weight.

What is exactly new then?

From the outside, the most obvious changes to the 2022 are the new front and rear fascias.

A new hexagonal grille gives the BRZ a lower, wider look, while the headlights have also been streamlined for a sharper look.

Front fender vents are also added, which are serve to evacuate turbulent air from the front wheels and engine bay,

The rear end features a prominent rear diffuser and bootlip spoiler, while the connected tail-lights also add to the new BRZ’s road presence.

Much of the glasshouse looks to be carried over though, and the new BRZ retains the same sports car proportions as before with a long bonnet, short overhangs and low-slung aesthetic.

But the interior already looks old…

Okay, the most obvious compromise Subaru has made with the new BRZ is the cabin, which looks like a photocopy of the existing car.

It looks as if the steering wheel, door trims, centre console, shifter and HVAC layout have all carried over, while the instrumentation (now all digital), sports seats, dashboard and centre air vents have been updated.

With a ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’ approach, we already know the cabin will functional rather than revolutionary.

Subaru is saying the 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen is new, but if you’ve been inside a BRZ (or 86 for that matter) before, you’ll have a sense of déjà vu inside the new car.

Safety tech?

Also disappointing is that Subaru’s EyeSight safety systems will only be standard on the automatic versions of the new BRZ, leaving cheaper (and more driver-focused) manual variants without crucial tech.

The front-facing dual camera set-up allows for features such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist in Subaru’s other models (Impreza, XV, Forester, etc), and buying a new car post-2020 without this tech is a serious concern.

Subaru has yet to lock in specification for Australia though, so there may be time left for the Japanese brand to work out how to fit these essential systems before the BRZ hits the showroom floor.