2022 Subaru BRZ Limited review by Ben Lewis

For enthusiasts on a budget, one of the most awaited new sports cars is the 2022 Subaru BRZ, and it’s twin the 2022 Toyota GR86. 

It’s easy to see why, the original BRZ and then-named Toyota FR-S, came out in 2013 and were aimed directly at drivers with a front-engine, rear drive powertrain, a low-slung Subaru boxer powerplant, an equally low-slung design, a superb driving experience and a very reasonable price.

Think of it as a Miata competitor with a permanent metal roof, a hatchback with two tiny rear seats, and you get the picture. But the little coupe punches well above its weight, and it also caught the attention of 370Z buyers, Boxster buyers and more. And being affordable, it also got a lot of attention from the tuning community.

A great car indeed, but not perfect. So, the question everyone has been asking is BRZ 2.0 now the idea perfected, or a Sophomore Slump? Let’s find out.

Muscular Look without Added Fat

In the looks department, the BRZ has resisted the usual direction of bigger is better and kept true to the minimalist esthetic we love. Despite having a larger engine, the ’22 is withing 20 lbs. or so of the original, thanks to extensive use of lightweight components, including a new aluminum roof.

All that and it looks better too, with a more muscular vibe that starts a lower, wider grille, boomerang-shaped intakes, and clean and crisp LED headlights. Hey, it’s even smiling at you! All in all, sporty and more cohesive than the previous model.

That cohesiveness carries over to the profile, with a large, fresh air vent behind the front wheel, which not only looks great, but is functional, ducting air from under the hood and fenders, and directing it to a pronounced side spoiler beneath the door for added downforce. There’s even a small fin at the back of the rear wheel well to add stability.

Our favorite part of the side view has to be the Limited’s handsome 18-inch alloys that really fill out the wheel wells. It’s the kind of look you’re used to seeing from the aftermarket, but Subaru does you a solid and gives you a great wheel from the factory. 

At the rear, the previous “afterburner” taillights are replaced with larger boomerang shaped LED lamps, while an integrated ducktail spoiler replaces the previous tacked-on affair. From certain angles it reminds us of Toyota’s new Supra – not bad company! With a wider track, a more curvaceous fear fascia, and large dual exhausts, the BRZ looks hunkered down and serious.

 Entertainment Center

The interior remains a pure driver’s environment.

Plop down into the supportive driver’s seat, and look past the fat, leather wrapped sport wheel and you’ll face a handsome 7-inch digital dash display with a 9,000-rpm tachometer and numeric speedometer. You can program the display to the left of the tach for the info you’d like – we recommend the g-meter. If you put the BRZ in Track Mode, the tach shifts to a linear graph display that is designed to be a quicker read.

Info-tainment is handled by a new 8-inch touchscreen with all the latest Subie goodies, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear vision camera and on Limited models, additional telematics.

Switchgear is easy to figure out, with some neat little rocker switches at the bottom that remind us of the Mini Cooper, and we also liked that our automatic-equipped shift lever looks like a stick shift. Large vents for the climate control help keep you cool, even when you’re tackling the twisties and working up a sweat.

Subaru is happy to point out that the BRZ has a rear seat, but we’d only put kids in there. Better yet, we’d fold the rear seat down, and take advantage of enough room to take gear, even an extra set of wheels and tires and some tools. Track time anyone?

Our Limited model adds some niceties, including heated, leather/Ultrasuede front seats with microfiber inserts featuring a red accent stripe. You’ll also find red contrasting stitching throughout the cabin, and some nice faux suede trim on top of the door panels and gauge hood.

 A Thrill to Drive

All the above is nice, but if they muffed the driving experience, we’d be weeping in our decaf latte. Lucky for us, the Subaru serves up a highly-caffeinated brew. 

The biggest news is under the hood, where a new 2.4-liter Subaru “Boxer” engine replaces the previous 2-liter unit. Horsepower is up 28 to 228, and maybe more importantly, torque is up from 156 lb.-ft at 5600 rpm, to 184 lb.-ft at just 3700. Torque was a common complaint on the previous model, especially a dead-zone in the mid-range which made the BRZ feel lifeless and non-linear.

Well, that’s all gone! The engine serves up plenty of low-end grunt, so much that it’s even noticeable when you’re just putting around town. But open it up and there is a very satisfying and speedy rush to the 7,000 rpm redline, with an audible growl adding to the fun.

While most Subaru enthusiasts will probably go for the 6-speed manual transmission, our tester had the 6-speed automatic, and it really is a treat. Shifts are quick and responsive, and with the new Sport Mode, you get rapid downshifts with automatic throttle blipping and yaw sensors that hold the transmission in a lower gear during hard cornering. All good.

This is an enthusiast’s automatic, and whether you choose to shift the lever or the paddle shifters, it’s an involving set up. And if you get stuck in traffic, it’s nice to sit back and relax and not have to row your own.

And that’s just the beginning, Subaru did a lot of fine tuning on the chassis, starting with 50% greater rigidity, to help the suspension work with greater precision. That new engine even lowers the already low center of gravity for enhanced steering response.

Except for something like a Porsche Cayman, nothing responds more quickly to the helm than a BRZ. A light touch on the wheel and you easily switch lanes, but crank it over and the Subie dives into corners like a terrier hunting down a snausage snack! And we’ll point out that the rear-wheel-drive setup means excellent steering feel at the front, and a precise controllable power flow to those rear wheels.

The grip is phenomenal too, with our Limited’s Michelin Pilot Sport tires pulling close to 1g in turns. (Yes, we used the factory G-meter!). Slow is as good as the go, with excellent, linear braking feel.

The ride is well sorted, too. Yes, it’s a bit firm – hey this is a sports car, but it never feels harsh. It’s easy to take long trips in the BRZ. We did notice a bit of road noise coming in, due in part to the hatchback set up in the rear, and those large 18-inch rims. But most enthusiasts will find it a small price to pay for all the fun you can have.

Other things help, too. Narrow pillars make outward visibility quite good, unlike the tank-on-wheels outward visibility of the Nissan 370Z or Chevrolet Camaro. One advantage of our tester being a Limited was standard Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Assist. If you opt for the automatic transmission, you’ll also get Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist technology, making your commute more comfortable and adding confidence wherever you go.  

How Much for a Year-Round Pass to The Fun Zone?

Step right up! The 2022 BRZ Premium starts at just $27,995 – about the same as last year. With all the performance goodies, 17-inch alloys, Navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard it’s a great value.

Stepping up to the Limited model like our tester gets you the leather/Ultrasuede upholstery, 18-inch alloys with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, heated front seats and LED steering responsive headlights. With a starting price of $30,495 it’s a no brainer – you could easily pay that extra amount just for wheels and tires.  Our Automatic tester started at $32,295. Add in $960 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $33,255.

The most obvious competitor is the Subie’s near-identical twin, the Toyota GR86. A comparable model comes in at $33,250 – a $5 difference! We hope to test one soon and pick apart the differences. Either is an excellent choice.

A comparable Mazda Miata RF would come in at $36,440. You do have a power-retractable roof, but no rear seat. The Subaru is definitely more comfortable in the day-to-day. Both are great cars; you just have to decide your priorities.

The 2022 Subaru BRZ takes everything we loved about the previous model, fixed the few things we didn’t, and made it better in every way. No sophomore slump here.

A joy to drive, look at, and live with, all at a very reasonable price. The 2022 Subaru BR-Z is our favorite new sports car!