To visit a Subaru showroom is to see motorized anxiety personified. These vehicles are automotive ointment meant to soothe the ongoing terror that at any moment, the weather will turn biblical and you’ll be unable to get to the Piggly Wiggly while carrying boatloads of lifestyle debris. But residing in this bastion of motorized all-wheel-drive balm is an anomaly: the rear-wheel-drive Subaru BRZ — a sports car.
It is the corporate thumb in your eye to Subaru’s usual nervous nelly customers — a bratty, fun automotive indulgence for a nation of drivers whose driving habits revolve around the words me, myself and I.
As before, the Subaru BRZ, and its identical cousin, the Toyota GR86, return sporting a redesign for 2022. While they share much in common, the Subaru is slightly different, with a noticeably different demeanor.
Both are incredibly fun, and overlooked in a segment where massive horsepower, not usable horsepower, has become an unsustainable arms race. Drivers will rarely — if ever — use all of the power they’re paying for.
In this atmosphere, the BRZ is a fresh breeze of sanity.
And as we discovered on our first drive of the 2022 Subaru BRZ, this is one sweet little go-kart. With Subaru handling engineering and Toyota tackling exterior and interior design, the BRZ retains its sports car purity. There’s nothing fancy here, just the basics for those who savor superb handling, a communicative driving experience and the chance to use every morsel of horsepower without committing a felony.
While the BRZ doesn’t look significantly different from the 2013-2020 generation, it is about an inch longer and a half inch lower. Styling has been refined, looking a bit less juvenile. And the integrated duckbill spoiler on the trunk looks great.
Subaru states that torsional strength increased by 50% thanks to additional high-strength steel to keep the car light, yet strong. The automaker also used aluminum for the roof, front fenders and hood. This enabled the use of a stiffer suspension while also improving ride quality.
Being a sports coupe, it probably doesn’t surprise you that the BRZ has a 2+2 configuration with a backseat that lacks any usable legroom, and is best thought of as a padded storage shelf to augment the cozy trunk, which is shallow, but goes well forward. And the rear seatback folds, allowing you to carry a bike, according to Subaru.
The driver faces a configurable 7-inch digital instrument cluster with a tachometer that transforms into a linear readout when the car is placed in Track mode. The driver can also call up a G-meter that measures your turns, braking and acceleration.
Interior ambience is far nicer, with a more refined feel and better materials. Opting for the Limited nets leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats with seat heaters, rather than the premium’s more mundane cloth seats. Regardless, you’ll find them to be well-bolstered and comfortable. Storage space is minimal, but enough for a few essentials.
Most importantly, the driving position is ideal, with tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a left footrest and pedals ideally placed for heel-and-toe shifting.
One of the biggest changes for the rear-wheel-drive BRZ is found under the hood, where you’ll find a new and more powerful 2.4-liter horizontally opposed engine that produces 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard; a 6-speed automatic transmission is an $1,800 option and includes Sport and Snow driving modes.
That’s a noticeable increase from the previous model, which generated 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque with the manual, and 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque with the automatic transmission.
According to the EPA, the 2022 BRZ returns 20 mpg city, 27 highway and 22 combined with the manual gearbox, improving to 21 city, 30 highway and 25 combined with the automatic.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2022 Subaru BRZ. However, the BRZ does come with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology, but you’ll have to opt for the automatic transmission to get it; it’s not available with the manual.
EyeSight includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.
An 8-inch color touchscreen anchors the center of the instrument panel, and features Bluetooth, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker audio system of middling quality.
On-screen graphics could be more sophisticated in appearance, but prove easy to understand and use. Subaru’s Starlink telematic connectivity is stand on BRZ Limited models. However, you won’t get an in-car navigation system, although most drivers use their smart phones for this function anyway.
The BRZ remains what it always has been, but even more so, a mess of tossable fun with athletic responsiveness in a blessedly lightweight, petite package. Steering is quick, body lean non-existent, and the ride firm, but not punishing.
It proves predictable in corners, with improved grip, although you can incite the tail to dance when you need to. But it proves lively on the twisting backroads that satisfy driving enthusiasts’ souls, with consummate steering and braking feel. There is a lot of road and tire noise, along with engine noise, but this is par for the course.
The Subaru BRZ provides fun no matter what the traffic, something you can’t say of a 700+ horsepower sports car whose ponies you’ll rarely, if ever tap. With the BRZ, you get to relish every bit of its power, which makes it all the more satisfying.
2022 Subaru BRZ Limited specifications
|Dimension||L: 167.9 inches/W: 69.9 inches/H: 51.6 inches/Wheelbase: 101.4 inches|
|Powertrain||2.4-liter horizontally opposed DOHC 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic, and rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||21 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $30,495; As tested: $33,290 including $960 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
This fun, affordable sports coupe is overlooked in a market obsessed with muscle cars, super cars and hyper cars — and some overhyped EVs. Its communicative nature, lively demeanor and cozy size make for a first-rung sports car, one that’s criminally overlooked. But for those who enjoy the true merits of sports car driving, the BRZ proves to be an irresistible bargain.
2022 Subaru BRZ — Frequently Asked Questions
Will there be a 2022 BRZ?
Yes. Redesigned for 2022 model year, the new BRZ is available in Premium and Limited trim, with a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic with a new Sport driving mode is an $1,800 option.
How much will the 2022 BRZ cost?
Less than the old model. With a starting price of $27,995, it cost about the $1,000 less than the previous model, the 2020 BRZ. (There was no 2021 model.)
Is the 2022 BRZ AWD?
The 2022 Subaru BRZ remains an anomaly in the Subaru line-up as its sole rear-wheel-drive car. All-wheel drive is not offered.