This would have been a big week for the auto industry but the annual Los Angeles International Auto Show was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, there’s a lot happening and Subaru is one of several automakers sticking with the original schedule – in this case by unveiling its second-generation BRZ by webcast.
As with the original sports car, the 2022 Subaru BRZ is the product of a joint development effort teaming the little automaker up with its Japanese big brother, Toyota which will follow up with the reveal of its own version, the GT86, at a later date.
There’s been plenty of speculation about where the project would go, especially in terms of the powertrain which, skeptics have long lamented, desperately needed a bit of a boost. In the BRZ, at least, we now learn that the little two-door coupe will be motivated by a new Subaru Boxer engine that punches out 228 horsepower, a more than 20% improvement. But other key elements, such as the basic “sports car purity,” as Subaru describes it, will carry over.
(Subaru expected to team with Toyota to bring Evoltis battery SUV to market.)
The 2022 BRZ’s dimensions are only slightly revised, the 2+2 stretched by an inch overall and sitting 0.4 inches lower, The wheelbase is 0.2 inches longer than the outgoing model. The emphasis, the automaker stressed, has been on emphasizing the extremely low center of gravity that gave the original model such dynamic handling. At the same time, there are a pair of – usable in an emergency – rear seats. More often, owners typically fold them down when they need to expand the cargo compartment.
The new platform for the 2022 model is now both lighter and offers 50% better torsional rigidity, Subaru reveals. At 2,815 pounds for the base trim and 2,881 for the BRZ Limited with an automatic transmission, it claims the new BRZ will be the lightest vehicle in its class, something that should further enhance the performance of that new engine.
The overall approach to the Gen-2 Subaru BRZ is evolutionary and few would be surprised by the design which does enhance the lower-slung dimensions, with a lower, broader grille framed by large functional air intakes and “proud” fender arches that just barely contain the new suspension points, Subaru notes. The greenhouse actually has been narrowed, even as the fenders of the 2022 remake have been flared.
“And the roofline features a subtle ‘double bubble’ appearance, a nod to vintage racing cars,” the automaker adds.
There are functional side vents to reduce aerodynamic drag, meanwhile, and it directs air along side sills that enhance downforce. Aero is further improved by a small rear fin, along with a “ducktail” rear spoiler.
The original BRZ won plenty of fans for its classic sports car design and handling – but it did leave plenty of room for improvement and, before we get to the powertrain, it’s worth a look inside where Subaru has addressed the relatively Spartan nature of the first-generation sports car.
(Subaru CEO sees little demand for EVs in the U.S.)
While it retains the original’s driver-focused layout, there’s a nicer level of refinement and much-needed new amenities. Material choices have been upgraded, especially on the Limited version. And the tiny touchscreen of the original now grows to 8 inches, while offering the latest version of the Subaru Starlink infotainment system. The rearview camera now displays on that screen, rather than in a small corner of the rearview mirror, and there is Bluetooth, along with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Through the steering wheel, meanwhile, a driver now looks at a reconfigurable 7-inch gauge cluster that automatically changes layout when shifting to Track mode, for example.
Engineers not only improved handling by lightening the new BRZ, they claim, but also enabled improved visibility by thinning the car’s A-, B- and C-pillars.
Under the skin, the chassis has been stiffened but it retains its MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear.
For many Subaru BRZ fans, the big news will be the upgrade to the new 2.4-liter Boxer engine now making 228 hp. The old motor managed just 205 hp with a stick and 200 with the automatic transmission. Torque, meanwhile, climbs to 184 pound-feet of torque, up from 156 with the manual, 151 with the automatic.
As before, however, Subaru will continue to offer a 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed automatic. The latter features paddle shifters and blips the throttle for smoother downshifts. All models come with a limited-slip differential to send power to the back wheels.
(Subaru WRX drivers more likely to get speeding tickets.)
No word on pricing for the 2022 Subaru BRZ, though the outgoing model starts at $28,845 before delivery fees. Assembled at Subaru’s Gunma plant in Japan, look for the new model to reach U.S. showrooms during “early fall of 2021.”