This was a given. Redesigned for the 2022 model year and already carrying around a 10Best trophy, the new Subaru BRZ was a shoo-in for a long-term visit, especially now that it's imbued with more power and refinement than the 2013 BRZ we last subjected to a 40,000-mile test. This is 2839 pounds of affordable rear-wheel-drive fun. Meat-and-potatoes driving enjoyment. Why'd we pick the BRZ over its also-fresh Toyota GR86 counterpart? That's a tougher call, but this platform is still the Subaru engineering team's baby. That the BRZ also rides better on crappy Midwestern roads than the Toyota and is slightly less tail-happy in corners should make it that much easier for us to enjoy over the next year or so.
Subaru makes it simple for drivers to configure their BRZ. All versions feature a considerably stiffer chassis and a 2.4-liter flat-four good for 228 horsepower—a 23-hp increase over the previous 2.0-liter mill. More importantly, the new engine's meatier 184 pound-feet of torque now peaks at a lower 3700 rpm, resulting in smoother power delivery. A Torsen limited-slip differential is standard, as is one of the most satisfying six-speed manual setups available. Fine by us.
The BRZ's Premium trim level starts at $29,615, underscoring this car's budget-conscious positioning. An intuitive 8.0-inch touchscreen, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a push-button ignition, and other niceties are all included. But we would've been foolish not to step up to the $32,115 Limited, if only for the 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires that replace the base car's 17-inch Michelin Primacy HP rubber. The heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, and microsuede upholstery with red contrast stitching that the Limited also adds are a welcome bonus. The BRZ's optional six-speed automatic transmission, which comes with a suite of Subaru EyeSight driver aids, was never considered, though we did decide to tempt fate with roadside tax collectors by opting for bright Ignition Red paint (at no cost).
An early road trip from Michigan to Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in support of our Lightning Lap event knocked out our car's 1000-mile break-in period and helped establish its current 26-mpg average fuel economy—4 mpg better than its EPA combined estimate. We also ran it on our 75-mph highway route, where its 31-mpg result topped its federal rating by a similar amount.
Upon its initial visit to the test track, a tire-spinning launch punted the BRZ to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 102 mph, making it about a second quicker than its predecessor in both measures. It also posted a solid 0.95 g of grip around the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in 162 feet and from 100 mph in 318 feet. We're more than pleased with this updated car's bang for the buck. "It only took five miles to reconvince me that this is a fantastic sports coupe," said senior technical editor Dave Beard, who added that he "110 percent would buy one."
Some familiar nits have already cropped up in the BRZ's logbook. Though it is nicer and more comfortable inside than before, this updated car's steering column still doesn't telescope as far as some taller drivers would like. And the intimate cabin—while pleasantly straightforward when hunting apexes—is stingy on useful places to stash our stuff during commutes. At least folding down the rear seats should help it swallow an extra set of tires and wheels for track days, which we look forward to confirming.
Substantial road and engine noise inside the car—91 decibels at full throttle, 74 decibels at 70 mph—also are a part of life with the BRZ. While the song that the new 2.4-liter engine sings is easy enough on our ears, those sound measurements are even louder than what we recorded in our previous-gen long-termer, which we said was "100 pounds of sound deadening material away from greatness." A chunk of that increased noise stems from the fake engine note the new car plays through its stereo speakers—a feature Subaru doesn't let you control, though the owner's manual does note that your dealer can deactivate the added sounds upon request. A quick internet search reveals a more practical solution: Simply unplug the system's control module via an access panel on the far-right side of the dashboard. Voilà, no more flat-four backing track.
We won't know precisely how much that fix has muffled our Subaru's voice until its return visit to the test track. But our initial impression is that we've merely toned down the racket inside the car rather than altered its tone. Trundle down the highway and you can barely hear the engine. Drive it hard, though, and plenty of flat-four growl can still be heard through the firewall. And we can always plug the system back in when it suits us. Next up is fitting a set of winter tires, which will not only help our BRZ survive Michigan's annual snowpocalypse but make its rear-wheel-drive goodness even more exploitable.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 3097 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 13.2 gal Observed Fuel Range: 340 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
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