Christopher Little

Elementary: 2022 Subaru BRZ

If there ever was a car best suited to proselytize performance driving, the 2022 Subaru BRZ would be it. The BRZ is designed around the sports car dogma – naturally aspirated engine in the front, manual transmission in the middle, drive wheels in the back. It is as quick to reward for proper driving technique as it is to punish for transgressions. Despite this, the BRZ is a forgiving teacher, making it easy to recognize mistakes and quickly recover. A loss of grip can be felt, responded to and corrected largely without fear of an accident. Subaru provided us a week with the all-new BRZ to spread the good word. Take me to church.

Despite rather vocal – and valid – criticisms, I was smitten with the first generation Subaru BRZ and its Scion FRS Toyota GT86 cousin. It only takes one stint behind the wheel of this all-new 2022 model to realize that every single one of them has been addressed. A new engine, chassis and an improved interior enhance what is already a fundamentally excellent sports coupe. Subaru managed to make the BRZ nearly a half-inch lower while allowing the car’s total length to only grow just over an inch. The double bubble roof, functional side vents with dramatic side sill and subtle ducktail rear spoiler give the BRZ a clean and purposeful profile. Subaru chose to retain the BRZ’s signature “smiling” front grille on this new generation, a design feature that would have me walking to my local Toyota dealer. But otherwise the BRZ’s styling is simple and timeless. Beneath the skin, the BRZ gets a reinforced chassis mounting system and sub-frame architecture. This makes the body stiffer for improved suspension tuning and dynamic handling. By using aluminum for the roof, front fenders and hood and high-strength steel in the greenhouse pillars, weight is reduced without compromising strength.

In the cabin, a 7-inch digital dashboard and 8-inch touch screen infotainment system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration bring modern amenities. Simple controls, supportive seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel provide everything you could ask for. Most notable, however, are the improvements in materials for common touch points like the center console and door cards. The hollow plastics of the last generation are replaced in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the BRZ’s price point. Our tester, the Limited trim, also includes blind-spot detection with lane keep assist, heated front seats, steering responsive headlights, and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels in matte gray. Normally those wheels would be wrapped in summer performance tires, but our tester wore Vredestein Quatrac Pro all-season tires for our late April test. Perhaps optimal for the colder temperatures and damp roads, I was disappointed in the tire’s grip and steering feel.

A new 2.4L boxer engine replaces the previous generation’s 2.0L unit, an engine that was derided for its nonlinear torque curve. With 15% more torque than before, the 2.4L immediately feels more powerful and linear. While 228 horsepower might not set the stat sheet on fire, it’s more than enough to enjoy with each drive. And that is the ethos of the BRZ. This back-to-basics sports car is enjoyable because you can give it 100% and not end up in jail. When the 7,000RPM redline arrives in second gear, you’ll be doing 62 miles per hour. If pure speed isn’t the allure, the handling of the car has to shine; the BRZ delivers. Light and quick steering changes the BRZ’s direction with the subtlest of motions. The suspension is firm to manage body roll and weight transfer, but never stiff enough to hit the bump stops on rough roads. The entire setup is so simple and communicative it feels like a breath of fresh air in an era of downsized turbocharged engines and adaptive dampers. Even the traction and stability system has been redesigned to allow more input from the driver before intervening, meaning you can make a mistake and recover more often. With less speed and lower levels of grip, these mistakes are learning opportunities instead of accidents. Simply put, the BRZ teaches you to be a better driver.

The 2022 Subaru BRZ turns every back road into the Nurburgring, every commute into a time trial, and every cross-town journey into an autocross. It makes you want to drive it, it tempts you to drive it harder and, most importantly, it rewards giving into that temptation. There’s no surge of forced induction power, no complicated adjustable suspension and no trick all-wheel-drive system – the BRZ is an elementary sports car. It thrills because it engages the driver at the most basic of levels. Tire grip, weight transfer, gear selection – these are all communicated through the car for you to do with as you wish. Mastering them, and thus getting to know the BRZ, brings pure driving joy. What more could you ask for in a $30,000 sports car? The only question left after the BRZ departed was why don’t I own one for myself.

-Christopher Little

2022 Subaru BRZ Limited$30,495
Destination Charges$960
As-Tested MSRP$31,455

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