A second-generation version of the Subaru BRZ was never a guarantee. After all, the market for affordable, rear-wheel-drive coupes is hardly what it was back in the two-door's heyday; add in the fact that the RWD stick-shift sports car seems increasingly like an outlier in Subaru's otherwise all-all-wheel-drive, crossover-focused, CVT-packed lineup, and the idea of spending the time and money whipping up a new one would seem difficult to justify.
Yet sometimes, people surprise you — just like Subaru did with the new second-generation BRZ. It's a distinct evolution of the niche sports car, one that maintains the beloved basics that made it a hit with its loyal fans while also bringing it into a whole new decade.
Beneath that revised sheetmetal lies a whole new engine for the BRZ: a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter flat-four. (Presumably, the same basic engine found in turbocharged form in the Ascent, Outback and Legacy, just shorn of its snail.) It snaps out 224 horsepower, a 9 percent increase over the outgoing model's 205; torque is up 15 percent over the old car's 156 lb-ft.
The design, too, is all-new, stretching an inch longer and half an inch lower than the previous BRZ. While the basic long-hood profile remains, the front has been restyled into a happier face with large air intakes and a broad grille, while the back looks almost Acura-esque.
A limited-slip differential helps put the power down to the rear wheels, further bolstering the BRZ's agility. A curb weight of less than 2,900 pounds means a determined driver shouldn't have much trouble burning rubber if they put their mind to it, though they'll probably have to rev the engine close to its 7,000-rpm redline to do so.
The 2022 BRZ's center of gravity is even lower than its predecessor, in which your coccyx felt as though it could be about to scrape along the pavement at any second. Chassis upgrades mean the car also features a 50-percent increase in torsional stiffness.
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Inside, the 2022 model is still recognizable as a BRZ, though it appears a bit more upscale. High-strength steel helps keep the pillars thin, making it easy for light to stream in and the occupants to see out. And like the previous version, there's a surprising amount of room in back; fold down the small back seats, and you can fit a quartet of tires or a mountain bike.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system using Subaru's Starlink setup sits in the midst of the cabin, offering both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
A new digital instrument panel places the tachometer exactly where the driver wants it: front and center, with the heart of the powerband near 12 o'clock. Pop the BRZ into track mode, however, and this shifts into a linear graph that makes it easier to know at a glance when you're coming up on redline.
And yes, of course, there's still a six-speed manual gearbox. Subaru promises the optional six-speed automatic is smarter than ever, with automatic throttle blipping and better ability to hold gears through corners...let's face it, you're gonna want the stick.
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