2017 Subaru BRZ Review

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2017 Subaru BRZ Overview

Since its debut in 2012, the Subaru BRZ coupe has been an affordable favorite for enthusiasts who prize balanced handling and simplicity. Though the basic formula remains the same—naturally aspirated boxer engine, two doors, low center of gravity—the 2017 model year gets the most significant round of updates the BRZ has ever seen.

The BRZ was developed alongside the Toyota 86 (formerly known as the Scion FR-S). Both cars got an update this year, and they share an engine and chassis. From a distance, it’s still difficult for a non-enthusiast to tell the two cars apart. Only a true gearhead would point to the updated Toyota’s flatter front fascia, eggcrate air intake, and lack of a standard aluminum rear spoiler as evidence that these cars are fraternal, not identical, twins.

A non-enthusiast might also miss the changes between 2016 and 2017 model-year vehicles, but trust us: Inside and out, both cars have evolved.

A host of small changes have improved performance from the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder boxer engine, so named because of its horizontally opposed pistons. New valves, a new camshaft, and new cylinder heads are all designed to reduce friction, and improved airflow comes from new exhaust and intake manifolds.

Together, the upgrades improve engine output by 5 hp to 205 hp, while torque climbs from 151 to 165 lb-ft. Those upgrades count only for cars equipped with manual transmissions, however, and last year’s performance stats still apply to cars with automatics. The manual transmission also gets a lower final drive ratio—now 4.31:1, formerly 4.1:1—for better acceleration.

All cars ride on a stiffer chassis, thanks to a reinforced transmission cross-member plate, rear wheel housings, and strut-tower braces. The rear stabilizer bar is larger, and coil springs are also updated. The overall curb weight increases—though only by 21 pounds. Unchanged are the tiny back seat and trunk.

Unlike most new cars, the BRZ eschews many of the active safety and infotainment features that are now common on even the most basic vehicles. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto option, and the car won’t automatically brake to avoid a collision.

However, the 2017 model does get a few upgrades, like controls mounted on the steering wheel, Subaru’s StarLink infotainment setup, and an available 4.2-inch LCD screen in the center console for recording lap times and measuring G-forces. The traction control system now has a less-grippy Track mode, which replaces the prior model’s Sport mode.

The 2017 BRZ comes in three trims: Premium, Limited, and Series.Yellow. Pricing has yet to be announced for option packages, but based on prior model years we would expect the Limited and Series.Yellow to cost around $2,000 more than the base vehicle.

Starting at an MSRP of $25,495 (excluding delivery and destination charges), the Premium trim costs only $100 more than the prior version, but comes standard with LED headlamps with integrated daytime running lights, a rear-view camera, and the Subaru StarLink infotainment system with app integration, satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Drivers also get cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manual climate control, and cruise control.

Upgrade to the Limited and you’ll get LED fog lights, upholstery trimmed in leather and Alcantara, heated seats and side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, push-button start, an antitheft system, and lots more red stitching and padding.

If you’re planning on driving straight from the dealership to the track, you should choose the Limited trim with the Performance Package. It gets Brembo calipers and bigger brake rotors, plus Sachs performance shocks. The Performance Package also includes black 17-inch wheels.

The most exclusive BRZ is the Series.Yellow. Based on a Limited trim equipped with the Performance Package, the not-at-all-subtle Series.Yellow also adds special badging, yellow stitching throughout the car, and—of course—a bright yellow exterior. Series.Yellow production is limited to a run of just 500 cars.

Whether you choose an entry-level BRZ or the Series.Yellow, you’ll benefit from the host of refinements Subaru has made to the BRZ. The Premium and Limited trims will be available in September, while cars equipped with the Performance Package will arrive later in the winter of 2017.

Updated
by

A member of the New England Motor Press Association who has owned everything from a Town Car to a Prius, Keith has contributed automotive coverage to outlets including Wired, Car & Driver, and USA Today.

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