A spin in the 2017 Subaru BRZ reminds us that driving can be more than getting from Point A to Point B. For 2017, the BRZ gets its most significant upgrade since inception, with a more powerful engine, revised suspension tuning, and updates to its interior and instrumentation. Small changes add up to something very big: The BRZ is now more appealing than ever.
What hasn't changed is the reason we find the BRZ so attractive in the first place. This is a classic sports car with crisp steering and sharp handling that forges a special connection between driver and road. It makes a reasonably comfortable and economical daily driver, but it's as a grin-generating weekend car that the BRZ really stands out.
At the heart of the BRZ is a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed boxer four-cylinder engine. BRZs with manual transmissions now generate 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque, though output for the automatics remains unchanged, at 200 hp and 151 lb-ft. The EPA estimates the BRZ's fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway) for manual cars and 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway) for the automatics.
Rear-wheel drive is a rarity for the all-wheel-drive specialists at Subaru. And it is this method of power delivery that makes the BRZ fun. The car is exceptionally well balanced, which allows you to explore its handling limits at sane speeds. Subaru has retuned the suspension this year, making it easier to probe those limits and slide the back end of the car around a bit, if that's your thing. The ride is not soft, yet BRZ shoppers will find it fine for daily driving. The noisy cabin is less forgivable. Enthusiasts may gravitate toward the manual transmission but don't dismiss the automatic. It is a great companion for sporty driving, eagerly popping off smooth rev-matched downshifts to keep the engine on the boil.
We have always liked the BRZ's simple interior. For 2017, Subaru added more soft-touch materials in places where limbs are likely to touch. It also revised the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. We've always appreciated its supportive driver seat, but the backseats remain undesirable. Even with the front seats adjusted for shorter drivers, legroom is in short supply. And the center driveline tunnel impedes hiproom. The trunk is also tiny. Maybe it is best to forget the BRZ has a backseat and fold it down to expand the cargo area instead.
Subaru offers three versions of the BRZ: Premium, Limited and the limited-production Series.Yellow trim. The Premium is surprisingly well equipped for a sports car. Limiteds add more features, including suede and leather upholstery. The Series.Yellow is primarily an appearance package. It is a top-of-the-line BRZ with unique black and yellow accents. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Subaru BRZ for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.