- Doors and Seats
- Engine Power
- Ancap Safety
We take the scenic route through the ACT to get to know Subaru’s new rear-wheel drive sports coupe in its natural environment.
- Engaging and fun to drive
- Strikes the ideal balance of ride comfort and handling
- Six-speed manual is the Drive pick
- Cabin noise can be annoying
- Small back seat and boot
- They’re hard to get!
Although it feels like yesterday, the first and original Subaru BRZ actually debuted back in 2012.
That means we’ve all had 10 years to get to know the old one, believe it or not. It doesn’t matter whether you’re now 18 and remember when it first came out or whether you bought the first one new, I honestly believe most Australians now know what a Subaru BRZ is.
If you’re still unaware, it’s an attainable rear-wheel-drive sports car from Japan that also comes as a Toyota. Although the new Subaru BRZ looks completely different to the old one, ironically it’s pretty much the same thing underneath.
It’s instead been the beneficiary of a major refresh program, rather than complete and utter replacement. What’s changed significantly is the driveline, with the 2022 Subaru BRZ’s engine now enlarged from 2.0 to 2.4 litres, six-speed manual slightly tweaked, and final drive ratio stretched to give it more legs.
Those three upgrades come together to make the Subaru BRZ feel new yet familiar. Aside from more power and a more mature design, the overall package now feels more grown-up than it ever did before.
Fancies like a spot of grand touring or the odd scenic drive now feel more appropriate for a Subaru BRZ to partake in than ever before, we think. And to find out, we took one for a drive though the Australian Capital Territory.
Our drive started in Manuka, one of Canberra’s prettiest inner suburbs, and later went past Stromlo and then on to Cotter Dam. Along the way, we see the Canberra Deep Space Communcation Complex, and then continue on to Tennent, where there’s plenty of things to see like Gibraltar peak.
|Key details||2022 Subaru BRZ S manual|
|Price (MSRP)||$41,190 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Sapphire Blue|
|Price as tested||$43,339 drive-away (Sydney)|
|Rivals||Mazda MX-5 | Hyundai i30 N | Toyota GR86 (due second half of 2022)|
Subaru notes the front pair of seats in the cabin are now mounted 7mm more inbound than before, but you’ll never notice it. Other than that, the seating position feels identical to before, which is low down in the hull, and supported by deep bolstering and a sense of snugness.
What’s new is located directly in front of the driver, and that’s a new 7.0-inch digital display in lieu of a set of traditional dials. Some may prefer the simplicity and legibility of analogue gauges, but the set-up in the new BRZ is at least well thought out and not simply vanity-skewed.
For example, when you flick the thing in sport mode, its digital instrument display turns into a large rev counter that starts from 4000rpm and totally discards the other half. Reflecting on the ‘ideal’ operating parameters for the engine, it also gives you better visibility of the engine speed during those spicy situations.
The car featured on Drive TV is a 2022 Subaru BRZ S, which means over the standard version it receives the same seats, just heated, and now trimmed in a combo of Ultrasuede and leather.
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Other parts of the 2022 Subaru BRZ’s cabin that are new include air-conditioning controls styled after the ones found in Audi’s third-generation TT sports car, some chunky toggle switches, a new cupholder in the centre console, and a butterfly-lid armrest with USB ports buried deep inside.
Some good moments that carry over from the old car’s cabin include the use of Ultrasuede everywhere, with the top of the doors inside and the instrument binnacle both finished in the fluffy stuff most often associated with sports cars.
The steering wheel is the same one used in the outgoing car for the latter third of its life, so those coming from an earlier 2014-era car will love the improvement. It’s thin-rimmed, spot-on in terms of diameter, and shod with only a minimal array of small buttons.
As expected, the back seats are as useless as ever. It means if you want people in the back, the people in the front must sacrifice as much legroom as safely possible. A child seat is doable in the back of a 2022 Subaru BRZ, but at least wait until they’re climbing in themselves before making one your fun daily driver.
The boot is both small and awkward. Not only is it paltry-sized at 201L, it’s also dominated by a full-size spare wheel. I guess it doubles as a good storage device for your bag or groceries?
You’ll fit in a fortnight’s shop, but you’ll have to bend your back and shove things in deep against the back seat. If you want to carry golf clubs, it’s doable, but the spare wheel will need to be removed.
On the flip side, you’ll fit two kid’s sports bags easily with the spare tyre, in case you want to take the fun car to the weekend’s game. It can work depending on your situation. My biggest gripe is the small opening to load through.
|2022 Subaru BRZ S manual|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Although it features a relatively small 8.0-inch screen, the Subaru BRZ’s infotainment system thankfully packs the latest hardware and software.
It means that tasks like smartphone mirroring with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are handled easily. The system responds quickly without delay, and is quick to boot up and enter CarPlay if you’ve plugged your phone in first.
Subjectively, I find no issue with the screen size. It feels in scale with the cabin, and to be honest, any bigger would likely be a distraction from the main event – driving.
Other features include DAB+, FM and AM radio, alongside an inbuilt satellite navigation system. The six-speaker stereo is just okay, but given how loud the tyres can be, it does need to be cranked hard. It’s also another sign that the sound system lacks clarity.
The 2022 Subaru BRZ has not been tested by Australian crash-test authority ANCAP.
However, all models feature blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Automatic models – like our test car – go one step further featuring autonomous emergency braking forward and backward, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane-departure warning.
It makes the automatic a far safer vehicle in a public space, which even if you’re not driving one is a good thing.
|2022 Subaru BRZ S manual|
|ANCAP rating||Not tested|
The 2022 Subaru BRZ starts from $38,990 before on-roads with a six-speed manual transmission, or about $42,200 on the road. Opting for the six-speed auto adds another $4000-or-so to the drive-away price.
If you want the fancy ‘BRZ S’ model for the heated seats, the six-speed manual version tested here costs $40,190 before on-roads, or around $43,400 on the road depending on your location. Again, add around $4000 to the drive-away price if you want the auto.
The other most obvious actor is the 2022 Mazda MX-5, which costs around $44,000 drive-away with a manually opening soft-top and manual transmission. But if you want an electrically folding tin roof and automatic transmission, the 2022 Mazda MX-5 RF can be had for under $49,000 on the road.
However, we all know convertibles are highly divisive, and it’s also a two-seater. In turns of bona-fide rear-drive sports cars, it’s slim pickings at this price point. You have to move over to hot hatches to get something as enjoyable and performance-laden, and the best in that class with an auto would be the 2022 Hyundai i30 N.
|At a glance||2022 Subaru BRZ S|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1339 (3 years), $2474 (5 years)|
If you’re going to defect to a front-driver, it has to be none other than the 2022 Drive Car Of the Year Hot Hatch winner. i30 N hatch starts from $44,500 plus on-road costs, or just under $49,000 (in Sydney) including on-road costs, if you’d prefer the sedan add another $4000 on top – but bear in mind for the extra spend you’ll also get more power and torque, a roomy boot, a usable second row, and even four doors.
Being a rear-drive proposition – and one that’s priced in the $40,000 bracket – the BRZ is absolutely value for money. I know sports cars fall under the ‘pay to play’ mantra, but it’s worth doing the adult math on what it’ll cost to run too.
Subaru expects you to return a BRZ to the service centre every 15,000km or 12 months. The first three services cost $344.62, $563.62 and $431.16 respectively, or $1339 for three years. Pricey. Years four and five cost $783.33 and $351.52, meaning over five years it costs $2474.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||9.5L/100km|
|Fuel type||98-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||50L|
It just goes to show how much clever suspension tuning can work hand-in-hand with subtle chassis tweaks, even if they’re hard to detect. Which, to be fair, you have to look underneath a Subaru BRZ to see, as it does have some technical hardware changes compared to both the old one and the upcoming 2022 Toyota GR86.
One of which is the rear swaybar mounting point, something unique to the 2022 Subaru BRZ alone in how it now bolts directly to its body and not its subframe. We’re told that these subtle differences between the pair – among others – can truly be felt. Let’s say we’re looking forward to comparing the pair as soon as we can.
Another way Subaru has augmented its BRZ sports coupe for 2022 is by actually fitting decent rubber out of the box. The outgoing car had a selection of tyres fitted new, but many owners had the pleasure or horror of dealing with the ‘Toyota Prius specification’ Michelin economy tyres that came on the majority of first-generation cars.
Anecdotes from owners I’ve heard over the years include potentially tall tales of “drift king” moments, through to having to change their underwear after the car “fishtailed left to right somewhat” without notice. In turn, new for 2022 are some decent Michelin Pilot Sport tyres on its 18-inch wheels.
Not only do they create new levels of wet-weather grip, but also make it remarkably capable in the dry. The only downside to the new grippy tyre is some sound insulation material to go with them.
Subaru seemingly forgot to add some extra material to the cabin, as the noise ingression becomes almost unbearable at 110km/h on a coarser-than-usual-chip freeway. It’s the only thing that’ll get in the way of the serenity of a road trip, and also about as bad as it gets in terms of negative attributes.
Aside from the technical aspects of what makes the 2022 Subaru BRZ great, it’s most importantly an invigorating car to drive. There’s literally zero play in the steering, and the brake pedal’s immediacy and accuracy makes the experience quite inviting.
Rowing the tactile six-speed manual is a real treat in the case of our test car, and the new, more-powerful engine has enough guts to explore the extra legs the lengthened final drive ratio provides.
The engine now revs hard from 3500rpm – around where its torque now peaks – and loves spinning to 7500rpm odd. Whereas the old car’s power curve dipped in the middle then made it to the end of the tacho, this new 2.4-litre punches hard right until the rev-limiter.
Hook the now fantastic 2.4-litre naturally aspirated flat-four engine up to those unchanged, well-weighted controls and its new suspension truly creates something special.
The engine is now pleasant to push and amazingly remains bright up top. On the tighter and slower routes, the suspension and chassis feel more trustworthy, easier to thread, and quick to learn. On the faster-flowing stuff it’s also way more dependable, but a simple thanks there goes straight to the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
In case you’re wondering, the 2022 Subaru BRZ is also really livable around town. On the daily grind it never feels like you’re holding back something fierce, or like you’re breaking the thing when traversing pothole-ridden roads either.
It has some compliance and comfort in the way it feels at slow speeds that a lot of sports coupes – particularly from Europe – can sometimes lack.
|Key details||2022 Subaru BRZ S|
|Engine||2.4-litre naturally aspirated flat four|
|Power||174kW @ 7000rpm|
|Torque||250Nm @ 3700rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||139.3kW/t|
Overall, the new driveline was just what the doctor ordered for the BRZ, and after driving the new bigger engine, we’re thankful Subaru didn’t opt for forced induction.
We think its simplicity, joy, and new levels of performance now make it the ideal grand-touring partner.
As cliché as it sounds, I’ll add that it’s also engaging at low speed, fun in all situations, and worthwhile to own as a daily driver if it fits in with your lifestyle.