THERMAL, Calif. — It was when Scott Speed, Subaru Rallycross driver, drifted into the second hairpin on the Desert track at the Thermal Club that I giggled. The 2022 Subaru BRZ was so light and so balanced, I’d say it floated around the track if it didn’t feel so glued to the pavement.
Though I didn’t get the opportunity to drive the next-gen BRZ, being a passenger with a pro driver is the next best thing – especially since the 2022 model is improved in virtually every way.
After a one-year hiatus, the rear-wheel drive sports coupe returns leaner, meaner and smoother.
So, what’s new on the 2022 BRZ other than everything?
Other than the sleek new design, probably the biggest change to the BRZ will be the engine. It gets an all-new 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder naturally aspirated Boxer, which will deliver 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
This is an increase of 23 horsepower and 28 pound-feet of torque.
Because the engine sits low in the chassis, it has an ultra-low center of gravity – even lower than the previous generation – which along with the near-perfect weight balance creates that glued-to-the-pavement feeling I felt on the track with Speed.
It keeps the MT
Even as many automakers are ditching the manual transmission, Subaru is keeping its 6-speed manual as the base transmission in the 2022 BRZ with an automatic available as an option.
While I can’t say I’m usually a fan of an automatic, this one at least sounds kind of cool. It’ll come with a new sport mode, which delivers automatic throttle blipping and holds lower gears during hard cornering.
If Subaru stays true to previous-gen pricing, the automatic will be a $1,100 option.
Meant to be an every-day driver
The BRZ is called a 2+2 sports car, which means it has a back seat that is largely unusable for humans. But what this back seat does is allow for more cargo storage with the rear-seats folded flat.
As Dominick Infante, director of corporate communications for Subaru of America, pointed out during the reveal in Thermal, you can fit four race tires in the back (presumably with the seats flat), so you can track it.
If race tires will fit, luggage for a road trip will, too.
But other than stowage space, what makes the 2022 BRZ an every-day driver is the easy-to-drive nature of the vehicle. Plus, the new 8-inch infotainment screen comes with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Oh, and Subaru’s Eyesight safety suite is standard on the automatic version of the vehicle. (Note: it’s not available on the manual version.)
Available in fall 2021
Since the BRZ skipped a model year, you can imagine Subaru is anxious to get the next-gen version out as soon as possible. While we couldn’t pinpoint an exact date, we did get a general statement of delivery, which is next fall.
Though Covid-19 has wrought havoc on a lot of production schedules, since we’re a year out, this one seems doable. So, look to see the 2022 BRZ sometime between September and November of 2021.
No word on pricing, but …
Because actual production is still a ways off, some of the finer details, like pricing, are still hazy. However, more than one exec confirmed this next-gen BRZ would be similarly priced to the current generation and under $30k.
For comparison, the 2020 BRZ starts at $28,845 for the Limited trim and $31,495 for the tS trim.
The 2022 BRZ will have Premium and Limited trims, so expect the Premium to start around $29k, and the Limited to ring in at about $32k.
The bottom line on the 2022 BRZ
The pictures of the 2022 Subaru BRZ don’t do it justice. It has creases and lines in all the right places and all of the aerodynamic features are functional. To help with weight and balance the hood, fenders and roof are all aluminum, and the curb weight should ring in just less than 2,900 pounds.
While the interior won’t be the most tech-forward thing you’ve ever seen, it’s solid with quality seating surfaces. Plus, standard CarPlay/Auto removes a lot of ills from the infotainment system.
My time in the jump seat with Speed behind the wheel was all too brief, but it was enough to know it’ll bring a heck of a lot of fun – and a lot more giggles – to any owner’s driveway.
Blogger’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Subaru covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.