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Subaru BRZ 2022 review

Seems like the BRZ has a new sense of maturity.
EXPERT RATING
7.8
It's lucky Toyota and Subaru committed to a second version of the BRZ and 86 pair, but has enough changed?

Small rear-drive sports coupe enthusiasts should be thanking their lucky stars, specifically the six lucky stars in Subaru’s logo, that a second generation of the BRZ even exists.

Cars like this are rare because they are expensive to build, difficult to homologate, hard to make safe, and attract a niche audience.

Even if they're well received and relatively good sellers, as the original BRZ and Toyota 86 pair were, there’s always a good chance they’ll be prematurely consigned to the history books in favour of committing resources to high-selling SUVs.

Yet Subaru and Toyota surprised us all by announcing a second-generation of the BRZ/86 pair.

With looks that could be chalked up as simply a facelift, though, has much changed under the skin? Is the new version meaningfully different from behind the wheel?

We were offered the opportunity to drive the 2022 BRZ on and off the track at its Australian launch to find out.

Small rear-drive sports coupe enthusiasts should be thanking their lucky stars. Small rear-drive sports coupe enthusiasts should be thanking their lucky stars.

Subaru BRZ 2022: (base)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$42,790

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Like most models over the past two years, the new BRZ arrives with a price-hike, but when you consider the base manual only comes in $570 over the outgoing model and the automatic comes in just $2,210 (while carrying significantly more equipment) over the equivalent 2021 version, that’s a major win for enthusiasts.

The range has been tweaked slightly, with two variants both available as a manual or automatic.

The base car wears a before on-road costs price tag of $38,990, and includes 18-inch alloy wheels (up from 17s on the previous car), clad in vastly superior Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, full LED exterior lights with new designs, dual-zone climate control with a more aesthetically pleasing cluster in the dash, a new 7.0-inch digital dash display, a new 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in sat-nav, a synthetic leather-bound wheel and gear knob, seats trimmed in cloth, a reversing camera, keyless entry with push-start ignition, and a significant upgrade to the rear-facing safety suite, which we’ll look at later.

The base model has 18-inch alloy wheels. The base model has 18-inch alloy wheels.

The automatic model ($42,790) is identically specified but swaps the six-speed manual for a six-speed torque converter automatic with paddle-shift manual mode.

The additional price-hike over the manual version is more than compensated for, however, by the inclusion of Subaru’s signature 'EyeSight' forward-facing dual-camera based safety suite, which would have required significant engineering input to include.

Featuring a new 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Featuring a new 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This is all without covering the updates to the car’s platform, suspension and bigger, punchier engine which fans have been crying out for since day one, all of which we’ll look at later in this review.

The top-spec S version mirrors the equipment list of the base car but upgrades the seat trim to a blend of synthetic leather and ‘ultrasuede’ with a heating function for front occupants.

The S version wears an additional cost of $1200 for a price tag of $40,190 for the manual or $43,990 for the auto.

While that may still seem quite a bit for such a small and relatively simple vehicle, in the context of the category it is excellent value.

Its most obvious rival, the Mazda MX-5, wears a minimum MSRP of $42,000 while providing significantly less performance from its 2.0-litre engine.

When the BRZ was revealed its new styling was polarising. When the BRZ was revealed its new styling was polarising.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

When the BRZ was revealed its new styling was polarising. While it looked a lot more mature than the zany lines and angry light fittings of the original model, I almost thought there was something retro about its newfound curvature running across its nose and particularly its rear.

It comes together nicely though as a more sophisticated design. One which looks fresh from the front and rear.

The design looks fresh from the front and rear. The design looks fresh from the front and rear.

The side profile is perhaps the only area where you can see how closely this car is related to its predecessor, with very similar door panels and near identical dimensions.

The design is more than just a major freshen-up though. The curvier nose with lower grille is said to be significantly less drag-inducing, while all the vents, fins, and spoilers are entirely functional, working to reduce turbulence and allow air to flow around the car.

Subaru’s technical people say this is because reducing weight proved too difficult (despite its increase in equipment, this car only weighs a few kg more than its predecessor), so other ways were found to make it faster.

I find the rear integrated spoiler and distinct new light fittings particularly appealing, accentuating the width of this little coupe, tastefully tying it together.

The BRZ has very similar door panels and near identical dimensions to its predecessor. The BRZ has very similar door panels and near identical dimensions to its predecessor.

Of course, you won’t need to go to a third party to clad your car in extra pieces, with Subaru offering STI-branded accessories. Everything from side skirts, blacked-out alloy wheels, even a ridiculous spoiler, if you’re so inclined.

The interior has quite a few carryover parts from the previous model. The prime contact points with the car, the steering wheel, shifter, and manual handbrake lever are the same, although the modified dash cladding feels more cohesive than before.

Gone are the aftermarket-look screen, climate dials which looked tacked on, and clumsily finished lower area, all replaced by more attractive pieces.

The climate unit and lower dash design, with smart shortcut buttons, are particularly nice, and don’t look as cobbled together as before.

The seats have been tweaked in terms of their trim, but overall share the same design. This is a good thing for front passengers, as the seats in the original car were already great, on-the road and when you needed the extra side-bolstering on the track.

The interior has quite a few carryover parts from the previous model. The interior has quite a few carryover parts from the previous model.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

I think we know nobody buys a car like the BRZ for its stellar practicality, and if you were hoping for some kind of improvement here, sorry to disappoint, there’s not a whole lot to say.

The ergonomics remain excellent, as do the front bucket seats for comfort and lateral support, and there is a slight improvement in the layout of the multimedia system, which is now a little easier to reach and use.

Same with the climate unit, which has larger, easier to operate dials, with shortcut buttons like ‘Max AC’ and ‘AC off’ to make the car’s core functions more straightforward.

Visibility is okay, with narrow front and rear window openings, but enough off to the side with decent mirrors to boot.

Adjustability is decent, with a low and sporty seating position, although taller people may run into issues with the tight roofline.

The ergonomics remain excellent. The ergonomics remain excellent.

Cabin storage is notably limited, too. Automatic models score an additional centre console cupholder for a total of two, and there are small bottle holders in each door card.

A new split-folding centre console box has been added, which is shallow but long. It houses the 12V outlet, while USB ports are located under the climate functions.

The two rear seats are largely unchanged, being near-useless for adults. Kids, I suppose, might enjoy them, and they are useful to have in a pinch. A small practicality advantage over something like Mazda’s MX-5.

They’re clad in the same materials as the front seat but without the same level of padding. Don’t expect any amenity for rear passengers, either.

The boot weighs in at a tiny 201 litres (VDA). It’s hard to speak to the usefulness of this space without trying our demo luggage set to see what fits, but it has lost a few litres from the outgoing car (218L).

Surprisingly, though, the BRZ offers a full-size spare wheel, and the brand assures us it should still fit a full set of alloys with the single-piece back seat folded down.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Some of the best news for previous owners of the BRZ is here. The old 2.0-litre Subaru boxer engine (152kW/212Nm) has been replaced by a larger 2.4-litre unit, with a significant hike to the outputs, now sitting at a respectable 174kW/250Nm.

While the engine code has migrated from FA20 to FA24, Subaru says it's more than just a bored-out version, with changes across the injection and port system to the connecting rods, as well as tweaks to the intake system and various materials used throughout.

Drive is sent exclusively from the transmission to the rear wheels. Drive is sent exclusively from the transmission to the rear wheels.

The aim is smoothing out the torque curve and reinforcing engine parts to handle the increased output, while optimising fuel economy.

The available transmissions, a six-speed torque converter automatic and six-speed manual, have also been revised from their predecessors, with physical enhancements to smooth shifts and handle more power.

The auto's software has also been revised to make it compatible with a new safety suite it's paired with.

Drive is sent exclusively from the transmission to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

With the higher engine displacement comes a bump in fuel consumption for the BRZ.

The official combined consumption is now 9.5L/100km for the manual, or 8.8L/100km for the automatic version, up from 8.4L/100km and 7.8L/100km respectively in the previous 2.0-litre.

The official combined consumption is 9.5L/100km (manual) and 8.8L/100km. The official combined consumption is 9.5L/100km (manual) and 8.8L/100km.

We didn’t pull an as-tested number from the launch event as we were sampling multiple vehicles in a host of different conditions.

Stay tuned for a follow-up review to see if the official numbers were as surprisingly close as they were for the previous car.

The BRZ also continues to require top-shelf 98RON unleaded fuel and has a 50-litre tank.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Subaru talked a big game on things like chassis rigidity (a 60 per cent lateral bending improvement, and 50 per cent more torsional stiffness for those interested) but to actually feel the difference we were offered the opportunity to drive the old and new car back-to back.

The result was telling, while the new car’s power levels and responsiveness are notably improved, the new suspension and stiffer frame combine with those new Pilot Sport tyres to deliver a decisive dynamic improvement across the board.

While the old car was famous for being twitchy and easy to slide, the new car manages to maintain a sense of playfulness whilst adding a lot more confidence when needed.

This means you can still do doughnuts with ease on a skidpan, but carry more speed with the extra grip available through S-bends on a track.

This car is still packed full of feel. This car is still packed full of feel.

Even driving the car on a tame back road, it's easy to tell how much firmer the frame is, and how the suspension has been adjusted to compensate.

The car is still packed full of feel, but not as brittle as the outgoing model when it comes to the suspension and damper tune. Smart.

The new engine feels every bit the upgrade it claims to be, with more consistent torque through the rev range, and a notable jump in responsiveness.

The engine's pretty distant at commuter speeds, only communicating the signature rugged boxer tone at higher revs.

Unfortunately, this improvement doesn't extend to the tyre noise, of which there is a lot.

This is somehow never a strong point for Subarus, and doubly so here with a car so firm and close to the ground, with bigger alloys and stiffer suspension.

I suppose this consideration is not high on the list for the typical BRZ customer.

The new car’s power levels and responsiveness are notably improved. The new car’s power levels and responsiveness are notably improved.

The interior materials are a little less dingy than they were before, but with identical key action points in terms of the small radius steering wheel, as well as the easy-access shifter and handbrake, the BRZ continues to be an absolute ergonomic joy to operate, even when the car is completely sideways (on the skid pan...).

The steering tune is as natural as it comes, allowing you to feel even more at one with what the tyres are doing.

One odd little downside here is the inclusion of Subaru’s odd touch indicators as seen on the new Outback. They’re the kind which don’t lock into position when you use them.

I don’t know why Subaru is intent on introducing these when BMW famously tried (unsuccessfully) to popularise them in the mid ‘00s.

I’m sure we’ll have more to say on this car’s road-going capabilities when we have a chance to do a longer on-road test, but having the opportunity to drive the old and new back-to-back put the new car in context.

It’s everything you loved about the old one, but just a bit more grown-up. I like it a lot.

The steering tune is as natural as it comes. The steering tune is as natural as it comes.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Safety has improved out of sight, at least on automatic BRZ variants, as Subaru has managed to fit its signature stereo-camera-based EyeSight safety equipment to the little sports coupe.

It’s worth noting the BRZ is the only car with a torque converter transmission to be fitted with the system, as the rest of the brand's range uses continuously variable automatic transmissions.

This means, for the auto, active safety functions have expanded to include auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a host of other conveniences like lead vehicle start alert, and auto high beam assist.

Safety has improved out of sight. Safety has improved out of sight.

Like the auto, the manual version features all the rear-facing active equipment, that is the rear AEB, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Elsewhere, the BRZ gets seven airbags (the standard front, side, and head, plus a driver’s knee) and the required suite of stability, traction, and brake controls.

The previous-generation BRZ had a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but to an older 2012 standard. No assessment for the new car, so far.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Like the rest of the Subaru range, the BRZ is covered by a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty, including 12 months of roadside assist, which is on-par with its mainstream rivals.

It is also covered by a capped price servicing program, which is surprisingly transparent now, including parts and labour costs.

Subaru offer a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Subaru offer a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Unfortunately, it’s not particularly cheap, with services varying between $344.62 and $783.33 for a yearly average over the first 75,000km/60 months of $494.85 for the automatic model. A small amount can be saved by choosing the manual.

It will be interesting to see if Toyota blows the Subaru out of the water by applying its famously cheap servicing to the BRZ’s 86 twin, set to launch later in 2022.

Verdict

The BRZ’s angsty phase is over. The new car is a delicate refinement of a great sports coupe formula. It’s been tweaked in all the right places, inside and out, allowing it to attack the tarmac with a renewed and more grown-up focus. It even maintains a compelling price-point. What more can you ask for?

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Pricing guides

$41,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$38,990
Highest Price
$43,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $42,790 2022 Subaru BRZ 2022 (base) Pricing and Specs
S 2.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $40,190 2022 Subaru BRZ 2022 S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.8
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality6
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Driving9
Safety8
Ownership7
Tom White
Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$42,790

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.