Like a good red wine, the 2023 Subaru BRZ has gotten better with age. It has earned its tire wear as a sports car — not an “sporty” car with apologies
Table of Contents
2022 Subaru BRZ redesign
2023 BRZ Pricing
Ride and Handling
Suspension, Braking, Steering
Why Buy the 2023 Subaru BRZ?
The Subaru BRZ is a dagger of inspiration when it’s time to cut to the chase. This rear-wheel drive, subcompact 2-plus-2 coupe has a snick-shift attitude with steely resolve. And by 2023 standards, it’s almost cheap to buy. Pricing starts at $29,615.
2022 Subaru BRZ Redesign
When the first BRZ launched in 2012 as a 2013 model, it was basically a badge-engineered model of the Scion FR-S. And when the Scion brand died in 2016, Toyota adopted it as the 86, or “eight-six” to purists. (In 2008, Toyota bought 16.5 percent of Fuji Heavy Industries, which includes the Subaru automotive brand.)
With its 200-hp, 2.0-liter engine (205-hp for automatic-equipped models), the first BRZ was a tepid performer that looked faster than it was.
That all changed with the redesigned and re-engineered second-generation 2022 BRZ. It introduced the 2.4-liter engine, the gear-changer that transformed the BRZ from a “sporty” car to a sports car.
Moving the BRZ to the Subaru Global Platform brought a 50-percent boost in twisting stiffness. The stiffer body allows a more responsive turn-in and throttle steering control.
The new body has been lightened with an aluminum roof, front fenders, and hood. With the reduced body weight, the center of gravity is now lower than the first-gen model, Subaru says — putting the BRZ on par with exotic hyper-cars.
The double-bubble roof design is just part of the aerodynamically enhanced body design. Other design elements include:
•An engine undercover insulator;
•Front fender air outlet;
•Body color rocker spoiler;
•An integrated trunk spoiler.
2023 Subaru BRZ Pricing
BRZ is available in two trim levels of Premium and Limited (today’s tester). Premium pricing starts at $29,615. It has the same performance elements as the Limited but with fewer interior upgrades. Among the standard BRZ fare is smart-key locking with push-button ignition, 17-inch wheels, fabric upholstery, a six-speaker audio system, and the leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with red stitching.
The Limited starts at $32,115. It has such upgrades as leather-and-Ultrasuede-trimmed performance front seats, BRIN NAUB nubuck-like trim on the instrument panel visor and door trim, an eight-speaker audio system, and blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. Get the list of standard equipment in the specs box at the end of this story.
Retail prices include the $1,020 freight charge from Gunma, Japan.
Check here for current pricing and offers.
Sporty BRZ Accessories Include
Rear Bumper Diffuser, $699.95: Lower rear body panel helps to direct airflow and adds a sculpted finished appearance.
STI Flexible V-Bar, $429.95: The performance-tuned STI Flexible V-Bar tightens steering response, stability, and cornering grip.
STI Shift Knob (for manual shifter), $216: A statement piece of aluminum and leather materials.
*Accessory prices do not include dealer installation.
In 2013, the co-developed engine began as a naturally aspirated flat-four 2.0-liter. At 200 horsepower, it was underpowered. But it was a debut for Toyota’s D-4S — Dynamic Force ‘Superior’ with direct and port fuel injection. The pairing improves fuel atomization while the port side is a self-cleaning feature to help rinse injector carbon build-up.
Fast forward to the 2022 redesign, and the new FA24 2.4-liter is still a “boxer” with horizontally opposed cylinders. The engine has 228 horsepower and a peak torque rating of 184 foot-pounds at 3,700 rpm. The sophisticated mighty-mite has a high-compression ratio of 12.5:1, requiring the energy of premium fuel.
Power delivery is by choice of six-speed transmissions, either a stick with a Torsen limited-slip differential or automatic. The automatic — $1,500 in the Premium, $1,700 in Limited — includes adaptive control, manual shift mode, downshift engine blipping, and steering wheel paddle shifters. Opting for the automatic also adds Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology.
Both gearboxes have a Track mode and Traction Control Off switch. And for those who actually run their BRZ through a performance course, the tire pressure monitoring system has individual tire pressure displays and registrations for two sets of wheels, such as for your race rubber.
Testers at Edmunds.com managed a 0-60 mph acceleration run in 6.1 seconds in a manual BRZ Limited. “That’s almost a second quicker than the previous version and similar to the acceleration of the latest Golf GTI (5.9 seconds) and Mazda Miata (6 seconds),” wrote senior vehicle test editor Kurt Niebuhr.
Fuel economy ratings for the manual are 20/27/22 mpg. I worked up to 29.3 mpg on a longer highway run. The automatic offers an incremental mileage improvement of 21/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined.
BRZ Ride and Handling
The more powerful 2.4-flat four-cylinder has the guts to pull steady from liftoff to interstate cruising. It is an eager scrapper that does not blow past the pleasure of feeling the suspension give and take. A reassuring push is felt in the driver’s seat from rear-wheel control.
There is no need to rush shifts. The engine’s 184 foot-pounds of peak torque are easily finessed with the six-speed stick. The clutch is light and the gears engage with steely engagement, and I never missed a one in my week of testing. (A seven-speed gearbox might help fuel economy, but I liked the control of the six-speed.)
Hill-start assist eliminates clutching anxiety — there’s about a 3-second hold before the backward roll.
Despite a low-slung stance and driving position, the BRZ is not prone to chin-scraping at every low dip in the road or driveway. However, while idling in traffic, I was looking into the ass-end of a Prius, and just about any other car.
At speed on the highway, the BRZ is a maelstrom of sounds. There is a rush of road noise and wind noise. But this is a sports car, and the rage of sounds can be forgiven. Tach it up, and revs in the higher rpms start speaking in enthusiast’s tongues.
Suspension, Braking, Steering
Underpinning the BRZ is a four-wheel independent suspension. The front has MacPherson-type struts with lower L-arms, coil springs, a stabilizer bar, and a strut tower brace. At the rear is a double wishbone with coil springs, stab bar, and anti-lift engineering.
Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes have 11.6-inch front rotors with dual-piston calipers. At the rear, 11.4-inch rotors with a single pot caliper.
Quick-ratio rack-and-pinion has well-calibrated electric assist. The turning circle is a tidy 35.4 feet.
Tires on the Premium model are 17-inch summer performance, 215/45. The Limited’s 18-inch tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer performance, 215/40. Both models have a tire repair kit, not a spare.
BRZ Curb Weights
The Limited manual weighs 2,864 pounds or just 49 pounds more than the Premium. (Compared to the first-gen model, the 2023 BRZ manual is just 88 pounds heavier.) Opting for the automatic shifter adds just 17 pounds for the Limited or 20 lbs. for the Premium.
Settle into the cockpit, and you’ll notice some functional roominess. Headroom of 37 inches will be limiting to some, but a 6-foot-6 friend had no problem getting comfortable behind the wheel.
Sightlines are surprisingly open for such a low and swoopy body style.
There is much carryover content and materials between the BRZ and its alt-ego Toyota GR86. But there are subtle differences. For one, the BRZ has an electric parking brake, and the Toyota GR86 has a hand brake, which is beneficial for scooting the rear end at the apex of the slalom. Otherwise, Subaru’s interior treatment has premium appeal.
The Limited adds a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and shifter, Ultrasuede-trimmed performance front seats, heated front seats, carpeted floor mats with red stitching and BRZ logo, and a six-way manual driver’s seat.
Interior space is compact with a modular Subaru Starlink 8-inch multimedia audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The screen doubles as a decent-sized rearview camera. Navigation is via the Starlink app.
The eight-speaker audio system works hard but is challenged by the noisy ride.
My daily complaint was how the seat belt cut across my neck. There is a guide loop, but it unsnapped almost immediately after securing the belt.
Back Seat and Cargo Space
Back seat space is a mere suggestion. Technically, there are 29.9 inches of legroom, but that becomes zero-inches with any occupant in the front seats. But fold the seatback, and there is about 5 feet in length for sports gear.
Why Buy the 2023 Subaru BRZ?
Like a good red wine, the Subaru BRZ has improved with age. It has earned its tire wear as a sports car, not a mere “sporty” car.
There is simple and honest integrity to the 2023 Subaru BRZ. Unlike some high-strung performance coupes, the BRZ is an everyday driver that does not extract a pound of muscle pain upon entry or exit.
It is built for fun, and the BRZ lets it rip with precision. It seems as if it should cost more, but just grab it and run with it like you stole it.
2023 Subaru BRZ Limited Specifications
Body style: subcompact, 2+2 rear-wheel-drive coupe with aluminum hood, front fenders and roof
Engine: FA24 228-hp 2.4-liter, horizontally opposed (‘boxer’) 4-cylinder with direct and port fuel injection with multi-spray injectors), aluminum alloy cylinder block and cylinder heads; 184 lb.-ft. torque at 3,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual with Torsen limited-slip differential
Fuel economy: 20/27/22 mpg on the recommended premium fuel
0-60 mph acceleration: 6.1 seconds *per Edmunds.com
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
Trunk space: 6.3 cubic feet
Front head/leg room: 37/41.5 inches
Rear head/leg room: 33.5/29.9 inches
Length/wheelbase: 167.9/101.4 inches
Width/height: 69.9/51.6 inches
Curb weight: 2,864 pounds
Turning circle: 35.4 feet
Limited model standard equipment includes: smart-key entry and push-button ignition, rearview camera, steering responsive LED high and low beam headlights, LED running lights, Subaru Starlink 8-inch multimedia audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 8-speaker audio system with satellite radio, carpeted floor mats with red stitching and BRZ logo, heated front seats, leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel and shifter, Ultrasuede trimmed performance-design front seats, 6-way manual driver’s seat, fold-down rear seatback, 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer performance tires (215/40)
Safety features include: 7 air bags, stability and traction controls, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert, brake-force distribution, brake assist
Limited base price: $32,115, including $1,020 freight charge; price as tested $32,115
Options on test vehicle: None
Where assembled: Gunma, Japan
Warranties: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain