There’s always a lot of hype and buzz in the air, online and offline when a Japanese manufacturer announces the upcoming release of an iconic car. The 2022 Subaru BRZ Coupe S which is what we tested here, is no exception to this hysteria.
It’s understandable though, especially considering how successful the first iteration of the BRZ/86 was, and has been since its launch in 2012. They’re not uncommon. In fact, they’re everywhere, and more often than not, they’re being driven by young adults.
Any wonder then that the first 500 units of Subaru’s new coupe are already spoken for. Toyota will most likely find itself in a similar situation when it finally launches its version of the new model, in the form of the GR 86.
We were lucky enough to be loaned not one, but two BRZs, the first with a manual transmission, in Sapphire Blue Pearl. The second came with an automatic transmission, this time in World Rally Blue Pearl, Subaru’s signature paint code.
Having driven multiple iterations of the first generation BRZ (and it’s 86 sibling), we could hardly contain our excitement, especially for the manual gearbox. And while there aren’t bucket loads of changes, the new models are simply so much better.
Firstly, the BRZ’s front end has been redesigned, and new headlights and front bumper make it look sleeker. It’s more aggressive and sporty. The side profile is also a thing of beauty, despite the removal of fender and mirror mounted side indicators.
The rear completes the entire car. Basically, it’s a baby Honda NSX. We’re all about that, it’s a truly sexy thing. But we’re not focused solely on looks here. Performance is key too. The BRZ is now powered by a 2.4-litre flat four Boxer engine.
That powerplant is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. This combination allows for a maximum power output of 174kW and 250Nm of torque, delivered to the rear wheels.
Drivability is amazing. The FA24, basically a 2.0-litre Levorg/WRX engine stroked to 2.4-litres, and without the turbo, takes off without hesitation and hits max torque at such low revs it’s almost hard to believe. Throttle response is on another level.
There’s plenty of power throughout the entire rev range too, so it makes for both a good cruise, as well as an exceptional spirited drive. There are however some caveats to this opinion, and they’re mostly about usability.
Die-hard enthusiasts will opt for the manual as it’s a great base for modification and would be excellent for track-use. But if you’re planning on using the manual transmission for daily-driving, especially in peak-hour bumper to bumper traffic, you’re in for a bad time.
The clutch is relatively forgiving and quite grabby for a standard factory unit. The pedal however, is the opposite. It’s equipped with a helper spring, so there’s a bit of resistance when you initially engage it.
Once you’ve hit the engagement point though, you’ll find your foot is suddenly on the floor and there is little resistance. We’ve come to the conclusion that this is to help people who are new to manual transmissions, but for seasoned veterans, it makes things more difficult.
Sure it’s probably easy to remove the helper spring to give the pedal a more natural feel, but we’re writing this review under the assumption that you’re not changing anything. We spent a lot of time perfecting take off, and we didn’t come close to getting the hang of it.
The automatic gearbox on the other hand, is smooth and faultless. It changes gears fairly quickly and does so without causing any weight-shifting in the car’s body. The ride can be a bit stiff for those who aren’t used to traditional sports cars though.
We found the steering offered a genuine sporty and direct feel. If we were going to change anything about the auto, it would be to swap it out for a dual-clutch or direct shift gearbox, but we’re not here to modify the car.
Inside the Coupe S, you’ll find heated suede and leather bucket seats with red stitching, which are the only feature separating the S from the base model, which comes with cloth trim.
Electronic adjustment is standard in the Coupe S too, although you may crush your rear seat passengers. Legally, it’s a four seater, but as has always been the case with the BRZ, we’re talking glorified parcel shelf here (or toddler seating).
There are two ISOFIX points and top mount tethers in the back, but a rear facing child seat will compromise the comfort in the front row. Only a forward facing child seat is practical in the BRZ’s small cabin.
The roof line is low too, so you’ll struggle to get taller people into the car. All that aside, the 7.0-inch instrument cluster is completely digital now and quite pretty, especially when you engage track mode, which transforms the tachometer.
It really is for track use, or ultra-spirited driving, and it will turn all the assists off, so be sure you want to use it. There’s also an array of readings and gauges, with a lap-timer included.
There’s an 8.0-inch entertainment unit mounted below the central air vents. It’s large and sticks out, but it works. It’s responsive and smooth, with in-built satellite navigation, and DAB+ digital radio. It comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The automatic version of the BRZ also comes with the added bonus of an extra cup holder in the centre console, rather than being hidden away. There’s also a large bottle holder in each door tray.
Pop the boot and you’ll find just 201-litres of space, with a fairly small opening too. This is further hindered by the exposed full-sized spare wheel, sat in a gaping hole right in the middle of the boot.
Safety varies between both the manual and automatic models, with the manual coming standard with cruise control and blind spot monitoring. The auto sports Subaru’s brilliant EyeSight safety system, adding a host of extra tech.
This includes autonomous emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep and lane depart assist, and adaptive cruise control.
Pricing for the 2022 Subaru BRZ Coupe S starts at $40,190 for the manual and $43,990 for the auto, with both plus on-roads. Subaru offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing.
For the price, the BRZ is a whole lot of car. It was designed for rear-wheel drive enthusiasts who plan to take it to the track or a skid pan, or for enthusiasts looking for a clean slate to build something to call their own.
We’re sure it will excel in both those environments. To put your name down for the second allocation, you can visit Subaru Australia’s website.
Our 2022 Subaru BRZ Coupe S test vehicles were supplied by Subaru Australia. To find out more, contact your local Subaru dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.