- Added performance from larger engine
- Sublime ride and handling balance
- Excellent value for money
- Manuals miss out on most active safety kit
- Rear seat is really only for storage
- Expensive service costs
We recently reviewed the new generation Subaru BRZ at its Australian media launch and came away quite impressed. Previously a great value and sharp – but somewhat gutless – sports coupe, the new generation BRZ’s added sharpness thanks to a larger engine and grippy Michelin tyres was obvious from the get go. But the launch program focused largely on track driving, so how does the 2022 Subaru BRZ S fair in the real world? Let’s find out.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock and like the previous generation car, the new Subaru BRZ is twinned with the new Toyota GR 86. The GR 86 is the replacement for the 86 and will launch in Australia in late 2022, almost a year after the BRZ. Priced in the mid-$40k range, the BRZ is priced above mini hot hatches like the Hyundai i20 N but crucially below larger hot hatches – and the Mazda MX-5 – like the Hyundai i30 N. As we’ll explore together, the BRZ offers excellent bang for your buck.
Price & Equipment: 9/10
Priced from $40,190 plus on-road costs (around $43,500 drive away), the 2022 Subaru BRZ S is great value for money. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres and a full-size alloy spare wheel, automatic all-LED lighting, dual-zone climate control, part-leather and suede seating with heated front seats, keyless entry and start, heated and electric-folding mirrors, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, a six-speaker sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel/gearknob/handbrake and two USB ports.
Safety equipment includes seven airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, speed sign recognition, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Disappointingly for manual drivers, the automatic adds auto emergency braking (AEB), auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic rear braking – these potentially life saving features continue to be unavailable for manual Subaru drivers, which we think is very disappointing, especially when project partner Toyota has all of those features available for cars like the GR Yaris.
Available colours on the BRZ include ‘WR Blue’, ‘Sapphire Blue’, ‘Crystal Black’, ‘Ignition Red’, ‘Magnetite Grey’, ‘Ice Silver’ and ‘Crystal White’ – best of all, they all incur no extra cost. The only interior trim option is black with red highlights.
Competitors to the 2022 Subaru BRZ S are few and far between, these days, unfortunately. The new Toyota GR 86 is the natural rival to the BRZ because it’s literally the same car, but the Mazda MX-5 is also a relatively affordable Japanese sports car. But there are a number of hot hatches to consider for under $40,000 as well if you’re looking for driving fun – the Ford Fiesta ST, Hyundai i20 N and Volkswagen Polo GTI come to mind.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
Under the bonnet of the 2022 Subaru BRZ S is a new ‘FA24’ 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol ‘Boxer’ engine, which makes 174kW of power (at 7,000rpm) and 250Nm (at 3,700rpm) of torque. It’s mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. With the bumps in power and torque, the new BRZ is far more drivable in everyday driving, but it also feels far more muscular and a lot quicker than the old model as well.
While just 400cc more engine makes for modest expectations as to the BRZ’s performance, we were surprised at just how much quicker the BRZ feels from behind the wheel. While the previous car’s outputs were modest, the worst thing about its engine was the flat spot in the rev range where not much happened. Thankfully, that’s gone and from peak torque being made at just 3,500rpm, the BRZ pulls much stronger than before. Subaru doesn’t claim a 0-100km/h sprint time, but the low-six second bracket is achievable according to overseas reports.
As with the previous generation BRZ, the six-speed manual is the transmission to choose – that’s despite not having anywhere near the same level of active safety kit as the auto. We’ve driven both transmissions and the automatic BRZ is fine – it does its job sweetly and quickly – but it offers nowhere near the engagement of the manual. And a BRZ is a car that you buy for engagement.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the 2022 Subaru BRZ manual is 9.5L/100km and interestingly, that’s one litre per 100km more than the previous model used. In our testing, we achieved 9.7L/100km in combined driving, which is close to the claim but still thirsty for a four-cylinder coupe. The BRZ requires 98RON fuel and has a 50-litre fuel tank.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
The previous generation BRZ and its 86 twin are still known as one of the besting handling cars of this century, and the new car is similarly excellent where driving thrills are concerned – but crucially for some, it’s now also more comfortable for everyday use. What we particularly like about the new generation BRZ is that its ride and handling balance is sublime, and it now rides better than the previous car as well. It’s extremely easy to drive every day, and in a lot of ways, just feels like a Corolla.
The biggest difference from the old car to the new one is that the new one now comes with more serious rubber in the form of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, versus the previous model’s Michelin Primacy units. The PS4 is one of the best tyres on the market as they make the chassis stickier and more planted, and it’s also a lot sharper than before as well.
Helping the handling further are the claimed improvements in structural rigidity versus the previous BRZ – according to Subaru, that’s been improved by 50 per cent, and numerous other improvements like aluminium front wheel hubs and a 10mm-wider rear track mean that the BRZ is more cohesive and more together than before to drive. And thankfully, it’s sublime to drive no matter what the situation is. Around town, it’s firm but never uncomfortable and when you’re tackling some corners, nothing we’ve driven this year makes you smile as much as it does. It’s so well balanced, so grippy and just so much fun.
Really, the only disappointing things about the driving experience is that the road noise can be quite loud and that the skinny steering wheel from the previous generation car was carried over. A meatier and more modern wheel would improve the driving experience.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
The interior of the 2022 Subaru BRZ S is like the rest of the car: not a clean sheet change, but definitely an improvement on the previous generation car. That’s thanks to excellent ergonomics, reasonable quality and more standard tech this time around.
The quality of materials used in the cabin of the 2022 Subaru BRZ are also an improvement over the previous generation car. There is a mixture of faux leather and suede used on the centre console and dashboard with a mix of both soft and hard plastics, and they are durable and hard wearing.
The standard cloth seats are comfortable, but the leather and suede upholstery in the BRZ S are better and we’d definitely spend the extra $1,200 to the BRZ S to get them. Storage is an area that has been improved over the previous BRZ as well – there is now a proper centre console storage system as well as cup holders, door pockets and a decent-sized glove box.
Centre of the cabin is an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and digital radio. Fitted with Subaru’s ‘Starlink’ software, it’s very easy to use but unlike the last car, which actually had the same system towards the end of its life, it’s a larger screen and it’s properly integrated into the dashboard. We do wish that it had features like wireless smartphone mirroring and online services like live traffic, but it’s otherwise fine. The BRZ’s new digital driver’s display looks old already, though it’s quite simple to read.
As before, the BRZ does have rear seats and like the previous model, they’re largely reserved for storage. Fitting an adult in them is almost impossible and requires pushing the front seats forward to uncomfortable (for all involved) levels. Kids will fit better and child seats also fit thanks to ISOFIX ports. The backrest folds (in a single piece) to help practicality further.
Opening the boot of the 2022 Subaru BRZ reveals 201-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place, which is much bigger than the 130L boot of the MX-5, though much smaller than the 310L i20 N. The one-piece rear seat folds flat, while there’s also a full sized alloy spare wheel in the boot floor.
Service & Warranty: 7/10
Like all other Subaru products in Australia, the 2022 Subaru BRZ S comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty with 12 months of roadside assistance. Servicing the BRZ is not cheap despite longer 15,000km service intervals versus the rest of the Subaru range’s odd 12,500km intervals. Five years/75,000km of servicing costs an expensive $2,390 ($478 per service).
Competitors like Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai all offer five-year warranties as well – though Toyota offers no roadside assistance, Mazda offers five years and Hyundai sits in the middle with 12 months included and a yearly extension with every dealer service. Toyota is yet to announce service pricing for the new GR 86, but five years/50,000km of servicing for the MX-5 and i20 N costs $1,920 and $1,545 respectively.
The 2022 Subaru BRZ S DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
Even before getting into the nitty gritty, a new sports coupe being released in this SUV-heavy world – regardless of who makes it – is worth celebrating because it’s a rare occurrence. That it’s affordable makes the 2022 Subaru BRZ S even more of an icon to car enthusiasts because as we know, most new cars have increased their pricing dramatically in recent years.
The new BRZ is not a perfect product, but for a reasonably practical, attainable and fun sports car, it’s fantastic. The new and larger 2.4-litre engine has given it the performance that it should’ve always had but it’s also far more drivable in regular driving because of its 50Nm more torque. Its even sharper handling has made it more fun to drive, while the addition of new tech and sultry new styling has made it more modern than before as well. Put simply, if you’re looking for something sporty under $50,000, the BRZ must be on your test drive list.