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TRACK TESTED: 2022 Subaru BRZ Is What a Sports Car Should Be

BMW should take notes

  • It might not be the fastest, but it's quick enough.
  • This is how a sports car should feel.

Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock, you know we've crowned the 2022 Subaru BRZ as this year's Edmunds Top Rated Sports Car. Not only is it affordable, but it's fun and exciting to drive in a way most modern sports cars are not — namely, at reasonable speeds. But what are the performance numbers behind the verdict? Read on to get a few notes from our test driver, who still won't shut up about this car.

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Spinning, chirping and stopping

Launching a car with a manual transmission isn't the easiest thing to do, but when you do it correctly, it is very satisfying. Now, while the BRZ doesn't make a ton of power or torque (228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft, to be exact), it also doesn't have the widest rear tires, so you still need to be wary of wheelspin. Our best runs came by launching the BRZ from 4,500 rpm with only the slightest feathering of the clutch while feeding in full power. That generates just enough wheelspin to avoid bogging the engine, but not enough to overspin the tires and spoil the run. Our test notes will take it from here.

"Gotta watch the tach, as the engine spins pretty quickly, and the shift warning (red flash and beep) happens RIGHT before you smack the rev limiter. The 1-2 shift gets a hard chirp out of the tires. Eyes back to the tach, since a 2-3 shift is required to hit 60. That gets a little shimmy from the rear, but no loss of traction. Love the 3-4 shift. Gearbox is notchy and takes a good yank/shove to move the lever through quickly, but it's a better experience than in the previous-generation BRZ. Always positive and never worried about getting the wrong gear or part of the gate."

Our quickest run to 60 mph was over in 6.1 seconds (5.7 seconds when you subtract 1 foot of rollout) and the quarter mile went by in a respectable 14.5 seconds at 96.9 mph. As with all of the cars we test, these acceleration numbers were corrected for atmospheric conditions at the time of testing.

If there was one complaint from our driver, it was the sound of the engine, "Doesn't sound like any engine I want to hear, but it's not an ugly sound. And I could do without the electronic enhancement." Hey, we gotta carp about something.

Jumping to the brakes, the BRZ's lightweight and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires helped produce a drama-free stop from 60 mph in a pretty short 106 feet. While more serious sports cars and a few muscle-y SUVs can do it in a shorter distance, it's important to remember that the BRZ is running on much narrower tires than any of those vehicles. We like the short, firm stroke of the brake pedal, but after a few laps on our handling loop we did start to feel a bit of fade setting in. Serious drivers will probably want better pads and higher-performance brake fluid.

Handling is its business

We will not apologize for fawning over the BRZ's handling capabilities. To cut to the chase, the only other car we've tested that offers the same level of control, feel and outright enjoyment is the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. Yes, really. Direct from our test driver: "Goes RIGHT where you look and starts coming off as telepathic after just a few corners. Like the Cayman GT4, but lighter in both weight and seriousness. Just imagine if more sports cars weighed less than 3,000 pounds."

The BRZ pulled an impressive 1.0 g on our skipad, putting this Subaru in some fairly elite company. "The skidpad wasn't much of a challenge, and the BRZ always wound up with a touch of push at the limit. Even with abrupt liftoff at the end of the lap, there was no real hint of rotation." With those fairly meager 215 mm section tires (most serious performance cars offer, at a bare minimum, 245 mm) the light weight of the BRZ shines through here, too. If you're curious about the specific number, our test car topped the scales at 2,829 pounds, 498 pounds more than the last Mazda Miata Club we tested but 450 pounds less than the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 we drove.

Steering is ultra-direct, encouraging the driver to make smaller, lighter inputs but never feeling darty. Again, this is what gives the BRZ that near telepathic feeling. "Precision? Slight oversteer on exit? Lots of oversteer on exit? You can even back it into a corner on the brakes. There's something for everybody here and it's one of the best." Like we said, our test driver couldn't shut up. The BRZ simply does what is asked of it, and does it every time. Oh, and it does it all for less than $30K. There's no better pure sports car for the money, period.

Edmunds says

You could argue that we're in the golden age of sports cars, and we'd wholeheartedly agree. But we'd also add the 2022 Subaru BRZ is one of the best, even by today's lofty standards. Not many sports cars come close to the BRZ's sublime balance of power, braking and handling precision.