Recently, I have become quite occupied with finding cheap and cheerful cars. Hence, my article about the new Honda Civic. Now while the Civic’s status as a cheap and cheerful car was up for debate, there is one car, in my opinion, that requires no debate at all: the Subaru BRZ.
The BRZ (also known as the Toyota 86 or Scion FR-S) in my book has always been a great car. It is the perfect blend of everything that the practical gear head needs. It has a manual gearbox with an actual clutch pedal, a RWD chassis, and most importantly, you can enjoy all of this without dropping huge sums of cash. For a kid like me who has no money, but still likes the idea of driving sideways in a cloud of my own tire smoke, the BRZ seems like the obvious choice. Of course, the question with this new BRZ then becomes whether it improves on its predecessor or takes on a completely different philosophy altogether. So, I suppose I should get right to it.
As usual, we shall start with the technical info you should know, and I am afraid it is not an auspicious start. The engine has already become a major source of criticism for many disappointed gear heads, mainly due to the fact that there still is no turbo option for the BRZ. The flat-four engine does get about 0.4L larger, but the actual increase in power is only 23 hp compared to the 100 hp boost many were expecting. While the power figures might not seem all that encouraging, torque is a much more positive subject to discuss. Not only has the actual output level increased (184 ft lb at 3700 RPM), but the torque is now delivered much earlier in the rev range. This, of course, means that the power, however little it may be, is being delivered much more swiftly and that creates the feeling of a quick car.
As part of the manufacturing agreement between Toyota and Subaru, it was the engineers at Subaru who were tasked with making improvements to the chassis and basic structure. The actual size of the chassis has stayed relatively the same, but Subaru has used new materials and adhesives in order to further stiffen its construction. This has proven especially important for certain mounting points around the car as it now allows for an easier ride and a noticeable decrease in body roll.
Now that we have all that technical information out of the way, we can move onto the subject of styling. This was Toyota’s end of the partnership, and judging from their other sports cars like the Supra, you would expect them to do a good job. However, in my opinion, the BRZ’s styling is a bit of a mixed bag. Outlets like Car and Driver have labeled it as a more “muscular” looking car, and I do agree that this is an apt description of the aesthetic. However, I am not so sure whether a “muscular” design clearly translates into a better looking car. I do like the side profile of the BRZ – it supports a sporty and active shape while still reminding us that it is a small pocket rocket – but the front of the car is where I start to run into a few issues. Firstly, I am not really a fan of the air ducts. By themselves, they look like a great detail, but in the context of the whole car, they look to be just a bit too pronounced. Judging from the front view pictures, the car also looks much taller thanks to its double bubble roof. This seems to be a bit of a paradox to me. In my mind, the BRZ is supposed to be this small sports car with the cornering ability of a house fly. However, the ungainly proportions that are highlighted by this excess height seem to instead create a different image. That being said, I do believe that styling has never particularly been the BRZ’s strong suit, so maybe this facet of the car does not need to be so harshly criticized, especially when placed in comparison with its predecessor.
To me, the new BRZ is purely evolutionary. Now you might think that means I don’t like the car, but actually I quite like evolution. I mean if not for evolution, I would be watching this week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a damp cave instead of my inviting, worn in couch. Subaru was able to create a wonderful end product because they were extremely aware of what they had with the BRZ. They stuck to the simple formula: a cheap, light, small sports car that can put a smile on your face any day of the week. Without disturbing this essence, Subaru was able to make improvements wherever they could, and of course, this leads to a better aggregate experience. The BRZ in all likelihood will not go down as the most important release of the year, but that is besides the point. The real story here is that we can rejoice at the fact that, for the foreseeable future, this pillar of “cheap and cheerful” will be here to stay.
“2022 Subaru BRZ Gets Prettier And More Powerful”. Car And Driver, 2020, https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a34734593/2022-subaru-brz-prototype-drive/. Accessed 10 Dec 2020.
“Autoblog Is Now A Part Of Verizon Media”. Autoblog.Com, 2020, https://www.autoblog.com/2020/11/20/2022-subaru-brz-why-it-isnt-turbocharged/#slide-2278782. Accessed 10 Dec 2020.
“The All-New 2022 Subaru BRZ”. Subaru Of America, Inc., 2020, https://www.subaru.com/2022-brz. Accessed 10 Dec 2020.