Auto123 took advantage of a beautiful spring day to engage the 2022 Subaru BRZ and one of the most fun cars on the market for the price, the 2022 Mazda MX-5 (in RF livery in this case) in a friendly little head-to-head contest.
There’s a new sports car in town (well, in Canada) these days. Well two, actually, since the revised 2022 Subaru BRZ is joined by its non-identical twin the 2022 Toyota GR 86 in the small but lively segment that caters to Canadian motorists who place driving pleasure high on their priority list.
Since it first debuted on the market a few ago, the BRZ / 86 (or FR-S for some) tandem has made its mark on that segment, for mostly the right reasons (handling, responsive mechanics, playfulness, etc.), but also for a few wrong ones (lack of horsepower, lack of torque, questionable design, etc.). With this new generation, we noted a clear improvement during our first contacts, but we wanted to push the exercise a little further by pitting Subaru’s BRZ against a dominant player in the category: the Mazda MX-5 RF.
For the purpose of this exercise, the GR 86 coupe was left in the garage, the differences between the two jointly developed models (BRZ and GR 86) being minimal. I should also mention that while it would have been theoretically possible to carry out this comparison test solo (done by driving each back-to-back from the same starting point and following the same route, in case you’re wondering), the test gained greatly from the valued contributions of another Auto123 contributor, Daniel Rufiange, who was willing to sacrifice a few hours of work (in front of a computer screen) for a few hours of work (in front of a steering wheel).
One more thing: Because everything or almost has already been said and written about these two Japanese roadsters, Daniel and I decided to present you our definition of the ideal "affordable" sports car based on the strengths and weaknesses of these two sports cars.
A word on design
Before we get into the qualities of each car in this duel, a few words are in order to illustrate the physical differences between the MX-5 RF and the BRZ Sport-tech.
On the one hand, the Mazda takes the form of a coupe, but it's the only one that offers a windy (Targa-like in this case) ride, though if you really want to mess your hair, I recommend the MX-5 soft-top roadster. It's also a genuine two-seater, while the BRZ coupe is a 2+2, though the two seats in the back are more symbolic than practical.
While the MX-5 hasn't changed in any way since the current fourth generation of the model was introduced in 2016, the BRZ coupe is entirely new for 2022, despite having a very similar platform and dimensions to its predecessor. On the other hand, the new BRZ's curves are more mature, even more aggressive with those openings at the front and sides. I’d apply that descriptive to the redesigned dashboard as well.
The best steering
Like with any successfully couple, communication is the key when it comes to a motorist and their sports car. Specifically, the latter has to be communicative with the former. And in this respect, both cars do very well, with the MX-5 offering slightly lighter steering than the Subaru coupe. But, in both cases, whoever is behind the wheel should expect a precise, light and quick steering column. In short, it's almost a tie in this respect.