Pandemic realities obliged Subaru to go online with the official presentation of its 2022 BRZ sports car today at high noon. On the one hand, we didn't learn much today that we didn't already know. On the other, there will be test drives in the near-future, at which time we’ll have a lot more to say about it.
That, unfortunately, may only happen in the fall, which is when the next generation of the model is expected. More on that further down.
Still the Toyota connection
First, we should mention that the model was once again developed in collaboration with Toyota. Moreover, the partnership between the two groups will give rise to other products, which is good news for the automakers and for consumers.
The styling of the first BRZ was already nothing to sneeze at, so the designers didn't really have to jump through hoops for the new edition. In fact, the changes are more tweak-level than anything else, and they deliver a model that retains its philosophy. Notably, Subaru managed to lower the centre of gravity by 4 mm by adding aluminum materials, especially for the roof. The seat has also been lowered by 10 mm for a driving position that lurks even closer to the ground.
This is by far one of the most important aspects of the new BRZ model. Another is the overall weight, which is up but only by 10 kg. That’s an impressive feat considering there’s now a bigger engine under the hood.
It was already known that the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine of the first-generation BRZ was being replaced by a 2.4L 4-cylinder Boxer engine. As you might expect, the new unit delivers more power with 228 hp at 7,000 RPM and 184 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 RPM. These represent gains of 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Versions and transmissions
The BRZ, to be offered in two versions only (Base and Sport Tech), will be available with either a manual or an automatic transmission, 6-speed in both cases. With the former, driving pleasure is assured of course, but when choosing it you have to forego the EyeSight safety system, which comes standard with the automatic transmission. As for the mechanical gearbox, Subaru mentions that it has improved shifter travel, making shifting even more natural and easy.
Improvements to the cooling system and several mechanical components, aimed at greater robustness, are among the other noteworthy changes. Many of these were done keeping mind that with more power, the BRZ’s parts are subjected to a slightly tougher workout.
Some of what it’s in store when you drop down into the driver’s seat: a redesigned interior presentation, a new instrument cluster with a configurable screen, StarLink connected services (a first with the BRZ) with a three-year subscription, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
At the wheel, as we mentioned driving pleasure is once again a top priority – though of course we’ll confirm that when the occasion arises. Weight balance has remained virtually the same, going from 48/52 to 47/53. Subaru’s engineers readjusted the MacPherson struts up front and the multi-link rear suspension to improve the model's performance. The rear track has also been slightly widened for improved dynamics, and the suspension attachment points have been reinforced. Torsional stiffness has been increased by 50 percent at the front, and the BRZ benefits from 17- or 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, depending on the version.
You'll agree that all this is very interesting on paper. We'll confirm it in due course on the road... or on the track.
Pure sports cars are disappearing from the market, but fortunately, some manufacturers are maintaining a commitment to the genre. In this regard, the joint work and commitment of Subaru and Toyota with this model is to be commended.
The good news is that Subaru says sales of the BRZ have been stable over the past five years, despite the general decline of the segment. So there's reason to be hopeful with this new version.
However, you have to question the company’s schedule, which is to launch the model this autumn. While this may not mean much as far as the U.S. market goes, when it comes to Canada, launching a rear-wheel drive sports car right when winter is appearing on the horizon makes no sense. It would have been better to see the model arrive in the spring or in the middle of summer.
Pricing for the 2022 Subaru BRZ will be announced just prior to its arrival at dealerships.