That Subaru’s 2017 BRZ should come with a turbocharged version of the company’s 2.-liter flat-4 FA engine, like the 1 that tends to make 268 horsepower in its WRX sedan, is a foregone conclusion. Following 4 years of sameness, the too-buzzy, too-slow BRZ was beginning to appear like the sports coupe the planet had forgotten.
But the potential-laden coupe was due for a refresh, and Subaru had to do one thing. Envision its predicament, then: Do they engineer a remedy to the packaging difficulty that supposedly prevents fitting the turbocharged FA engine in the BRZ’s nose, or do they revise its naturally aspirated engine to make more energy? Subaru representatives say that the main issues about the BRZ are a low center of gravity, balanced handling, and low cost, and these preclude fitting the turbocharged engine. We say the car’s desperate need for far more power and giant-killer prospective outweigh all of those priorities. And we’d wager that we’re not the only ones who’d pay much more for a boosted BRZ with wider tires and a stiffer suspension.
Plus, producing the turbo engine match can’t be quite as large an obstacle as Subaru claims. Soon after all, the organization has been packaging turbos in space-compromised engine bays for a lot more than 20 years with huge achievement. And a turbo would remedy two of the BRZ’s greatest vices: a lack of low-finish torque and the need to spin its engine to 7000 rpm, where it is thrashy and loud but nevertheless not particularly strong. So what did Subaru do?
It persisted, increase-free of charge.
A Lot of Function for a .1-Second Achieve
We give you the 2017 Subaru BRZ with a heavily revised but nonetheless naturally aspirated two.-liter flat-4. Equipped with new intake and exhaust manifolds, cylinder heads, cams, and valves, its energy climbs from 200 to 205 horsepower even though peak torque rises an equally insignificant five lb-ft, to 156 lb-ft. The gains appear so high in the rev variety (peak output is at 7000 and 6400 rpm, respectively) as to be virtually imperceptible in every day driving. And the torque valley that haunts the BRZ’s midrange, among 3300 and 4600 rpm? It is slightly mitigated but nevertheless exists and is nevertheless burdensome. It is a character killer in a car that’s otherwise full of promising personality.
What’s much more, these increases only apply to cars equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. The BRZ with six-speed automatic is rated, identical as final year, at 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Manual-transmission BRZs also advantage from a shorter final-drive ratio (four.30:1 vs. 4.10:1) that provides the low-torque engine better leverage over the tires.
Predictably, a 5-hp obtain and marginally shorter gearing do little to boost measured performance. Our 2017 test car hit 60 mph in six.two seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds—improvements of .1 second across the board relative to the final manual BRZ we tested, a 2016 model. Trap speed remained the same at 95 mph. That slight boost in straight-line efficiency also comes with a penalty at the pump, with the manual BRZ now EPA rated at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, down from last year’s 22/30 mpg. We weren’t capable to record a actual-globe figure for this BRZ, but a similar 2017 Toyota 86 we tested at the very same time returned a 23-mpg typical.
Stiffening at the front strut mounts and rear damper mounts, coupled with retuned spring prices plus a larger rear anti-roll bar, yield only subtle improvements in road driving. Even at its limits, most drivers would uncover the alterations each and every bit as challenging to detect as that tenth of a second in the quarter-mile. Even so, the BRZ’s steering response, overall balance, and compact packaging encourage difficult driving in techniques that other coupes at this price tag merely do not. At .90 g on the skidpad, the BRZ doesn’t break any grip records. Blame the modest 215/45R-17 Michelin Primacy HP rubber, not the chassis, which boasts frustratingly underutilized potential.
Our test auto lacked the $ 1195 Overall performance package, which adds Brembo 4-piston front and two-piston rear calipers in addition to bigger rotors at each ends. The regular brakes stopped the car in 164 feet from 70 mph, practically identical to the preceding BRZ.
Bottom line? There’s no meaningful overall performance achieve to be had for Subaru’s rather important massaging of the BRZ. Fortunately, the alterations come with an equally inconsequential $ 125 boost in base cost. Our test auto was a Limited trim model with no options. Picking the Restricted, rather than the base Premium, upgrades the seats and interior trim and adds dual-zone climate control and remote keyless entry with a proximity key. Even so, the price tag stays beneath the $ 30,000 mark. However, although it remains among the most entertaining cars at that price tag, its lack of underhood soul makes Chevy’s Camaro V-6 or Ford’s EcoBoosted Mustang, both of which are faster, look awfully tempting for about the same income.
At this rate, the BRZ and its counterpart, the Toyota 86, are destined to endure the identical fate as the late Nissan 240SX—another coupe with a great chassis that desperately needed an engine to match. The Nissan died at the hands of bean counters disgruntled about low sales volume. The advantages a turbocharged engine would bestow on the BRZ are as well fantastic to ignore, both for driving enthusiasts and for its longevity. Are you listening, Subaru?Car and Driver BlogCar and Driver Weblog