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Subaru BRZ 2022: Why Australian pricing makes the new Mazda MX-5, Hyundai i30 N and Ford Fiesta ST rival possibly the most exciting new sports car

The new Subaru BRZ is due to land in local showrooms before the end of the year, and will be powered by a 2.4-litre engine.

Subaru will be looking to steal the spotlight from Toyota with the arrival of the new-generation BRZ later this year. 

While Toyota has been riding high on the back of its recent GR Yaris addition and has the new 86 coming by early 2022, the BRZ is due to hit showrooms in December and should have sports car fans excited.

The BRZ/86 twins shook up the sports car establishment when they first arrived in 2012, offering rear-wheel drive, coupe performance for less than $40k. But after a while people began to bemoan the perceived lack of power – at least compared to turbocharged hot hatch rivals – and plain cabin appearance, complaints that Subaru and Toyota have listened to and aimed to improve.

So, how does the new BRZ stack up against some of its would-be rivals? Let’s take a look at some of the key comparisons between the BRZ and the Mazda MX-5 (similar rear-wheel drive layout), Hyundai i30 N (popular hot hatch) and Ford Fiesta ST (compact hot hatch).

Performance

Subaru BRZ engine

As already mentioned, one of the biggest criticisms of the original BRZ was its relatively modest 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, which made just 152kW/212Nm and was out-gunned by many hot hatch rivals. 

So, Subaru (and Toyota) have fitted the new BRZ with a larger 2.4-litre four-cylinder ‘boxer’ that makes 170kW/249Nm. That’s still not on par with most hot hatches though, with the i30 N extracting 206kW/392Nm from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, while the Fiesta ST boasts 147kW/290Nm from its 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol.

But, compared to the rear-wheel drive MX-5, the BRZ has it well covered, despite its pair of engine options. The MX-5’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol makes 97kW/152Nm, while the 2.0-litre four-cylinder is good for 135kW/205Nm.

Handling

What made the BRZ (and 86) so popular and such a critical hit wasn’t its outright performance, but the way the power was balanced with its playful chassis. Toyota fitted the 86 with the same low-resistance tyres as the Prius in order to ensure the right combination of power and grip.

For this new model, Subaru and Toyota have made some major changes to the chassis and suspension set-up that should, in theory, improve its handling.

Key amongst the changes is a stiffer chassis, with a 60 per cent increase in front lateral rigidity and a 50 per cent improvement in torsional stiffness. The company has also added gripper tyres, with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber expected to be standard. There’s also been a decrease in weight thanks to more aluminium panels, specifically the roof, bonnet and front guards which should also help lower the centre-of-gravity.

How this compares to the MX-5, i30 N and Fiesta ST remains to be seen, but these changes should help improve the way the BRZ drives on the road and track.

Pricing 

The Subaru BRZ cabin is a more tech-savvy space

Subaru has already announced pricing of the new BRZ months ahead of its arrival, and while it’s gone up $3720, the range still begins at less than $40k with the manual Coupe priced from $38,990 (plus on-road costs).

The MX-5 range begins from $36,090 for the 1.5-litre model and from $44,020 for the 2.0-litre option. That means the MX-5 1.5 undercuts the BRZ on price, but is well short on performance.

The Fiesta ST manages to also undercut the BRZ, with its $32,290 asking price, but as mentioned above, it has slightly less power.

Meanwhile, as we’ve reported previously, the hot hatch market is steadily increasing in price, so the newly-facelifted i30 N now starts from $44,500, which is significantly more than both the BRZ (and the original i30 N).

The combination of its power increase, expected handling improvements and steady pricing should be enough to have any sports car fan anticipating its arrival.