The 2017 Subaru BRZ erupts from Fuji refreshed and refined. _by David Beard A power boost has topped our wish list for the BRZ since its inception. When the BRZ is equipped with the only worthwhile transmission, the six-speed manual, this wish is granted–sort of. Subaru installed a freer-flowing intake and exhaust manifold to aid respiration. Anti-friction countermeasures include polishing of the valves and camshafts along with tuning the direct-injection pump to reduce drag. Subaru claims it strengthened the pistons and crank bearings to withstand the whopping gains of five horsepower and five pound-feet of torque, bringing totals to 205 and 156, respectively. While this output bump remains inconspicuous around Fuji’s 2.8-mile configuration, the new, lower final-drive ratio (from 4.1:1 to 4.3:1) helps ameliorate the large midrange torque hole still present in the BRZ’s power delivery. Further elevating the driving experience is a new $1195 Performance package. Unlike past color-coded marketing gimmicks (the Series.Blue and Series.HyperBlue editions), this optional kit is functional. Revalved ZF Sachs dampers at all four corners add to the improved body control, while wider wheels make room for four-piston front and two-piston rear Brembo calipers and STI rotors. The pedal feel remains firm through Fuji’s fast braking zones; unlike with the base brakes, fade fades as a concern. But stopping power is largely tire limited anyway, so anti-lock intervention happens quicker than with standard binders. A new front fascia makes the car look wider and is positioned lower for improved aero. The headlamps and taillights now use LEDs exclusively. Inside, a new, smaller steering wheel becomes the center of attention. The Limited trim now comes with a 4.2inch performance display that monitors fluid temperatures, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, lap times, and power delivery. Though these are big changes for small gains, they genuinely improve this, the best driver’s coupe under $30,000.
mile-long front straight in the new Subaru BRZ takes longer than figuring out how to get a can of cold Calpis from a Japanese vending machine. As a blanket of fog descends from the Mount Fuji foothills, the track surface becomes damp, the racing lines slick, and the visibility limited. Braking hard into the Turn 1 hairpin, jerking the wheel, and stomping the throttle, one thing becomes obvious about the new Subaru BRZ: It is more drift-capable than ever. Not that the outgoing model wasn’t a tail-happy machine itself, but, for 2017, Subaru’s engineers went opposite to convention. The BRZ has less electronic intervention than its predecessor. The former sport-mode programming steps aside and track mode takes its place. With the car’s reeducated brain, well-controlled drifts become possible while the stability-control net remains active in case things get out of hand. Through Fuji’s fast corners, the car’s body roll is more predictable and controlled than before thanks to minor changes within the BRZ’s structure. Subaru bulked up mounting surfaces for the transmission, the front strut-tower brace at the firewall, and the rear spring perches. The coupe’s quick, natural-feeling steering now builds more linearly thanks to software tuning of the electrically assisted system. Stiffer front and softer rear springs paired with a larger rear anti-roll bar provide a more planted, apex-hunting turn-in, despite the car’s soldiering on with the meager Michelin Primacy HP rubber from past BRZs.
VEHICLE TYPE: frontengine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe BASE PRICE: $26,315$30,515 ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, port and direct fuel injection DISPLACEMENT: 122 cu in, 1998 cc POWER: 200 or 205 hp @ 7000 rpm TORQUE: 151 or 156 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE: 101.2 in LENGTH: 166.7 in WIDTH: 69.9 in HEIGHT: 50.6 in PASSENGER VOLUME: 80 cu ft TRUNK VOLUME: 7 cu ft CURB WEIGHT: 27502850 lb PERFORMANCE (C/D EST) ZERO TO 60 MPH: 6.47.5 sec ZERO TO 100 MPH: 16.620.1 sec 1/4-MILE: 15.015.8 sec TOP SPEED: 140 mph FUEL ECONOMY EPA COMBINED/CITY/ HWY: 2427/2124/ 2933 mpg