Automotive

Published on November 19th, 2020 | by Joshua Chin

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New Subaru BRZ Debuts Upsized Engine, Retains Manual

Subaru has given what BRZ owners have all been asking for, more power. 

There is a common saying that the fans of something is always the hardest crowd to please, and this statement couldn’t better describe the Toyobaru enthusiast community. 

Many years ago, when the mainstream auto industry was churning out boring grey econoboxes, automotive enthusiasts were given a reprieve from the dullness when Toyota and Subaru collaborated to produce an affordable lightweight, rear drive sports car with a manual transmission in the form of the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ. This recipe that supposedly ticked all the boxes on the enthusiast wish list initially went down a storm with the automotive enthusiast community, with nearly every other enthusiasts putting it down on their automotive wish list. 

Toyota GT86

Nevertheless, as time went on and the hardcore Toyobaru fanbase grew, the one thing this community has never stopped loudly lamenting about was the fact that this bare-bones sports car was, in their eyes, underpowered. Till this day, look on any automotive forum asking for recommendations on an affordable sports car and while the Toyobaru twins typically share the spotlight with the Mazda MX-5, there will still be a blizzard of comments arguing about the weedy performance of both these fun little sports car. 

Well, a mere 8 years since its debut, Subaru has finally rectified the supposed biggest flaw of the BRZ in this new second generation car. Gone is the old 2.0 litre boxer unit, and now in its place instead is a larger capacity 2.4 litre boxer four cylinder that is still naturally aspirated. 

Yup, you didn’t read that wrong, there is still no forced induction to be found under the hood here. Subaru, and to a greater extent Toyota is still sticking with the ‘there is no replacement for displacement’ engine philosophy. 

Be that as it may be, while this may disappoint some in the automotive fraternity who love their braaap-stu-stu-stu turbo noises, this bigger displacement motor does bring with it a healthy boost of power the hard core fan base so crave. 228 hp and 250 Nm of torque represents a healthy increase of 23 hp and 40 Nm over the old car. 

Moreover, being naturally aspirated, an old school power delivery with a linear progression up to its 7,000 rpm red line should be expected. Exactly what both Toyota and Subaru aim for in this pure and simple sports car. 

It is also because of its pure and simple nature that the Subaru BRZ still comes as standard with a six-speed manual transmission to send its power to the rear wheels. The six-speed automatic gearbox that now features a new Sport mode, adding an automatic throttle blipping feature and a yaw-sensor to hold the lower gears longer during hard cornering, still being relegated to the options list. 

Speaking of its cornering prowess, the trump card of the Toyobaru twins should be better than ever before in this new generation. Barely growing in size and weight over the years is a major plus in this department, though another plus point now is the 50% increase in torsional stiffness that Subaru has managed to achieve over the outgoing model, thanks to ‘reinforced chassis mounting system, sub-frame architecture and other connection points’. 

On the electronic side of things, the BRZ also now features Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) traction and stability system with five different settings. Happily, for the brave (and skilled) drivers, there is still the option to completely off for maximum sliding fun. 

Moving onto the design, this next-gen BRZ is more of an evolution than a revolution of its predecessor. Up front, the LED headlights have been moved further up and pulled further back, giving it an interesting bug-eyed front end aesthetic. Round the back meanwhile, there is no other way to describe it than saying it is a mini Honda NSX. 

From the side however, the simple 2+2 coupe silhouette of its predecessor remains. Though it is revised somewhat with an integrated ducktail spoiler, a subtle double bubble roof and a new large yet supposedly functional side vent. 17 inch wheels are standard on the lower-spec Premium variants, while 18 inch wheels are available on the higher-end Limited models. 

Stepping inside, simplicity still seems to be the keyword here, as simple geometric shapes are abundantly on the dash design. From the circular side air vents to the rectangular central air vents set within an arrow straight horizontal top-dash, everything seems to be drawn on with a ruler and a compass. Even the 8 inch Subaru STARLINK central infotainment touchscreen featuring integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is housed within a simple rectangular insert within the centre of the dash. 

Then again, it is perfectly functional for its intended purpose, especially since it retains all the details that enthusiasts want out of it. Like the thin pillars and low-slung seating position in the body-hugging sports bucket seats. 

There are indeed too some new interior tech that driver’s may be interested in, most notably of which is the customisable 7-inch digital instrument cluster with the tachometer front and centre and featuring an integrated digital speedometer readout. It might not be the most advanced digital driver’s display ever seen, but it does the job adequately enough. What more, when in Track mode the rev counter transforms into a linear graph. While not the most practical of read-outs, it is certainly a cool feature. 

Going on sale in the early fall of 2021, production of this all-new Subaru BRZ will be handled by the same Gunma plant that is has recently stopped rolling out the outgoing model. No word thus far on the prices yet, but conservative estimates put it to still be around the $30,000 mark (RM 123,000). 

More interestingly however would be the fact we have yet to hear anything from the Toyota side of things. Though seeing as Toyota did their big reveal first last time around, perhaps this time Subaru was given the green light to go ahead before them? Regardless, expect more Toyobaru news in the near future, next time from the Toyota side of things. 

PRESS RELEASE: The all-new, rear-wheel drive 2022 Subaru BRZ sports car made its Global Debut today at the Thermal Club Raceway in Thermal, CA. Subaru developed the all-new BRZ with the same fundamentals of sports car design that it used to create the original: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity with precision steering and handling in an affordable 2+2 package. But for the 2022 model year, the BRZ features more power, better handling, improved styling, a 50-percent increase in torsional stiffness and a modern interior. A pure sports car with Subaru DNA.

Running counter to the current trend of power over precision, the 2022 Subaru BRZ focuses on simplicity and fun. Designed to deliver an unmatched driving experience, the all-new BRZ features a new and more powerful 228 horsepower 2.4-liter horizontally opposed engine. Sitting low in the chassis, the Subaru BOXER’s unique design allows the BRZ to achieve a Center of Gravity (CoG) even lower than the previous BRZ and on par with exotic hyper-cars. The ultra-low CoG is critical to delivering unrivaled handling, with a low polar moment and quick reaction to driver inputs. The 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine redlines at 7,000 RPM and delivers a 15-percent increase in torque. The 2022 BRZ will be offered in both Premium and Limited trims and is available with two transmission choices; a standard six-speed manual or an available six-speed automatic with a new Sport mode designed for more aggressive driving. The new Sport mode allows for more rapid downshifts with automatic throttle blipping and utilizes yaw sensors to hold the transmission in a lower gear during hard cornering to maximize performance.

Clever and Modern Design

Despite its sporting intentions, the 2022 Subaru BRZ does not sacrifice everyday comfort and practicality. The 2+2 seating and folding rear seats create a useful cargo area that has space for carrying a mountain bike, golf clubs, or even four race tires and tools for track days. Utilizing aluminum for the roof, front fenders and hood, the 2022 Subaru BRZ has an estimated curb weight of just under 2,900 lbs., delivering on its promise of accessible performance.

The BRZ’s bold new styling is as impressive as its handling prowess. The overall impression is modern, agile and powerful, with focused and functional aerodynamic details. The tidy coupe design is just over an inch longer and almost half an inch lower than its predecessor, resulting in a low and wide frontal area set off by large functional air intakes. The grille is set low and is capped by proud fender arches that allow just enough room for suspension points. A narrowed greenhouse accentuates the bold fender flares and the roofline features a subtle “double bubble” appearance, a nod to vintage racing cars.

The aggressive design flows into bold front fenders with a large side vent. The functional side vent reduces drag by ducting air from under the hood and fenders. The released air is directed to a side sill spoiler that creates downforce at speed.  A small fin at the back of the rear-wheel arch also assists in airflow adding stability at speed. At the rear of the car, the large rear fenders and wider track flow into dual exhausts for a low and wide stance. This visual heft is lightened by a narrower greenhouse and rear hatch which flow into a dramatic upturned “ducktail” rear spoiler.

Driver Focused Interior

For 2022, the Subaru BRZ features a new interior with every detail focused on the driver. A new customizable 7-inch digital dashboard is the focal point with the tachometer front and center featuring an integrated digital speedometer readout. To the left of the tachometer is a programmable meter that can change to show amps, water temperature or a g-meter, once again emphasizing the BRZ’s performance capability. When the BRZ is placed in track mode, the tachometer automatically shifts to a linear graph with a color display that allows for a quick read allowing the driver to focus on the road.

The overall cabin design is contemporary and modular with improved driver amenities. The 8-inch infotainment touch screen takes precedence in the center stack and features the latest SUBARU STARLINK™ multimedia systems, including standard smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay™ and Android ™ Auto, as well as Bluetooth® hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, rear vision camera and SiriusXM® services. Limited trims feature telematics and vehicles equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission also feature Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology.

In keeping with its sports car dynamics, the BRZ seating position is low, but features excellent sight lines due to use of high strength steel in the A, B and C -pillars, keeping them thin but strong. Deeply contoured bucket seats provide support and are enhanced with red detail stitching. The folding rear seats and spacious rear cargo area round out a comfortable and practical interior.

Chassis

Featuring a bespoke chassis, the BRZ takes full advantage of its ultra-low center of gravity and high-strength body structure. With a 101.4-inch wheelbase and near perfect weight distribution, the 2022 Subaru BRZ is nimble and easy to control. The front suspension uses struts and coil springs to keep weight low. Using design elements from the Subaru Global Platform, the chassis has gained rigidity through a reinforced chassis mounting system, sub-frame architecture and other connection points. Front lateral bending rigidity has been increased by 60-percent for the 2022 model to improve turn-in and response. The front suspension features custom-designed MacPherson-type struts to optimize the low hood line while retaining a long stroke for ideal handling and ride quality. The double wishbone rear suspension system provides outstanding bump absorption to enhance tire grip over varied surfaces.

For track driving, the standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) traction and stability system offers the driver five different settings. The system has been redesigned to allow more input from the driver before it activates the traction system. The system can be turned completely off to put the driver in full control.

Production of the Subaru BRZ will be at Subaru’s Gunma, Japan assembly plant. The BRZ will go on sale early fall of 2021.

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About the Author

Automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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