Displaying items by tag: Subaru
Even if it ain't broke, there are a few things you can still fix.
Since its debut in 2012, the Subaru BRZ has focused on delivering great handling. We've heaped piles of praise upon it—and rightly so. Small, light, agile, great suspension, great balance, low price, the ability to carry four tires with the rear seats folded flat—those are the ingredients that make up a great sports car. Remember, we put it one place ahead of a McLaren (and way ahead of a Lamborghini) at the 2012 Best Driver's Car.
That out of the way, the Subaru BRZ has long had two flaws. One, the design was a missed opportunity. Front-engine, rear-drive coupes lend themselves naturally to sleek, sexy shapes (Jaguar E-Type, Shelby Cobra, Datsun Zs, almost every Aston Martin ever built). Sadly, the first-generation BRZ had weird headlights, fake vents, and a softness to the rear end that allowed onlookers to wrongly assume it was front-wheel drive.
The other issue was of course power—or lack thereof. Case in point: Two years ago, Subaru released the 2018 BRZ tS, a car the brand claimed was "pure handling delight." I just reread the review I wrote of that one, and the salient point is: "I've never met anyone who has driven a BRZ … and asked for more handling. All anyone has ever said is 'More power.' As in, can we please have more power?" As you may have guessed, the answer was no. Well, guess what?
Meet the 2022 Subaru BRZ. Not only is the car all new, but so is the sheetmetal. Better yet, it has more power! Let's start with all 28 extra horsepower. The engine remains naturally aspirated but grows from 2.0 to 2.4 liters. The first-gen BRZ had the Subaru WRX's engine with the turbocharger removed, whereas the new car has the Ascent's 2.4-liter flat-four sans turbo. The result is 228 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 rpm, up from 206 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque in manual transmission cars and 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque in automatics. Why no turbo? Subaru says to keep the BRZ's price down. That's probably most of it, though you have to assume that to some degree Subaru is protecting the WRX. The same theory applies to Toyota's safeguarding Supra turbo-four sales with its 86 assembly-line cousin.
In the Age of Hellcat, the BRZ no doubt sounds underpowered. Keep in mind, however, that Subaru says the new BRZ weighs less than 2,900 pounds, which would be about 100 pounds more than the last one we weighed, a 2016 Series.Hyperblue that checked in at 2,763 pounds. Do the math, and the weight-to-power ratio still improves by over a half pound per horsepower on the new car. You can have your 2022 BRZ with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Why still a six-speed auto? Remember that Subaru relies on Toyota's huge profits and massive supply chain to get the BRZ and Toyota 86 built. Toyota supplied the project with a six-speed Aisin slushbox. As ever, get the manual.
As for the chassis, it's all new, though Subaru built it with lessons learned from the brand's Global Platform. The top of the boxer engine block sits lower than the top of the tires, and as such, the center of gravity remains quite low. The front suspension is made up of long-travel MacPherson struts and coil springs, whereas the rear brings dual control arms and coil springs. A classic, sporty recipe for sure, and identical in setup to the previous car. The BRZ has grown fractionally in terms of wheelbase (101.2 inches to 101.4 inches) and length (166.7 inches to 167.9 inches) but is unchanged in width (69.9 inches), and the new one is actually shorter in height than the car it replaces (52.0 inches versus 51.6 inches). There are five driving modes, and if you place the stability control in Track mode, the digital tachometer reconfigures itself into a line graph just like a Mustang or a McLaren 570S.
As for the looks, I think the 2022 Subaru BRZ is a big improvement over the old car. From the front there's a bit of a mini-Corvette vibe happening, in a good way. Those black, penguin-shaped things below the headlights are functional vents that provide cool air, while heat generated up front exits via functional side vents just in front of the doors. The new BRZ almost looks like its smiling, a Mona Lisa sort of vibe. The headlights are a massive improvement from the last version. A little bit of Mazda? Sure, but Mazdas are by and large great looking. For you design nerds out there, the new BRZ loses a degree or two of tumblehome, the idea being that doing so would make the fenders look more square and therefore tougher. I think it works. I actually see a bit of Infiniti Q60 in the side profile, minus that car's terrible C-pillar. From the rear, I'm seeing a nice mashup up of a Honda Civic and Aston Martin Vantage, largely because of that kicked-up, mini-ducktail spoiler. You know what? It all works.
How's the 2022 Subaru BRZ drive? Dunno. Despite (a bit of) begging, I wasn't allowed to drive the car. Why not? Dunno, again. However, Subaru was nice enough to trek former F1/NASCAR and current Subaru rally driver Scott Speed out to the Thermal Club near Palm Springs to give yours truly some hot laps. "It's my mission in life," Speed said, "to get a one-make race series going with this car." His reasoning is sound. Although it's not a drag racer, 0-60 mph should happen in the low 6-second range. More important, not only is peak torque up, but from the seat of my pants, the torque curve is also up throughout the rev range. Unlike in the previous car, it felt as if the 2022 BRZ was blasting out of corners. In the first-generation BRZ, well, you never felt that. Is that notorious flat spot in the middle of the rev range gone? Again, didn't drive it, but it feels like it's mostly gone, not totally gone. The new BRZ felt as balanced and as neutral as ever, with a hint of oversteer on turn in. Understeer basically doesn't happen, due mostly to the suspension tuning, though I'd guess the sticky Michelin PS4S tires help some, too.
Speed's reasoning for the racing series is that modestly powered sports cars like the BRZ will result in more of a pack or group on the track, and that will allow for more passing opportunities, and passing is more fun than not. The new BRZ is the perfect tool for the job because it behaves so well on the track. Who am I to argue with Mr. Speed?
Subaru hasn't announced pricing yet, but expect it to be in line with current BRZ prices when the new sports car goes on sale this fall, so just a hair under $30,000.
From the Archive: Subaru has the goods, presenting us with an exceptional, clairvoyant, delectable new rear-wheel-drive sports car.
Some things just don't make sense. Why is the food at Outback Steakhouse mostly Cajun style? Why can't Jennifer Aniston find true love? And why would Subaru and Toyota, two companies whose fortunes are built on mainstream sedan sales, collaborate on a rear-drive sports car?
The latter question is a bit easier to answer from the Subaru BRZ perspective. For one, Subaru has a currently breathing reputation for building sporty cars: They may sell in limited volumes, but the WRX and STI are nevertheless Subarus. And Subaru says that the engine in its BRZ, a 2.0-liter flat-four making its first public appearance in this car, will form the basis of its next turbo motor. For its part, Toyota says that its version of the car—to be sold as the Toyota 86 in Japan, as the GT 86 in at least the U.K., and as the Scion FR-S here—makes sense as a first thrust in its plan to again build sporty, fun-to-drive vehicles. Still, this isn't a car that most people saw coming from either manufacturer.
Cheese Fries, Please!
Then again, regardless of the boomerangs mounted on the walls and the "Chaze Frois, Plaze!" coasters, Outback Steakhouse's Alice Springs chicken is delicious—and devastatingly unhealthy, but that's beside the point. The BRZ is likewise delectable; our only gripe about the way it drives is a chassis that leads to understeer at the limit. That, however, is much less likely to give you a heart attack than a jumbo honey-mustard-marinated chicken bosom hidden under a pile of bacon and smothered in melted cheese. Indeed, right up until the nose starts to chatter off line, Subaru's new coupe is gifted with exceptional balance and clairvoyant reflexes.
The understeer isn’t a deal breaker; with perfectly timed and moderated inputs (or with huge, pimp-slap jerks on the wheel and heavy stomps on the go pedal), it is possible to avoid it all together and turn it into delicious oversteer. When the rear end goes, even in the wet, the BRZ slides slowly and progressively. It's so easy to catch that you might find yourself fishing in your pocket for spare change with one hand while the other meters yaw around an off-ramp. (Subaru says that Toyota's suspension tune will vary slightly, a tad softer in the front and stiffer out back.) The brake pedal feels a little less wired than the rest of the car, but the binders wind the speedo back toward 0 in a hurry.
Conducting the chassis is steering that is more immediate than anything this side of the Lotus factory. Its heft is perfect for resisting unintentional inputs at the limit. Feedback falls short of perfection, but only slightly; blame the electric steering if you must. The electric motor assisting the BRZ's rack is mounted high up on the firewall, contributing to a slightly higher center of gravity but simultaneously shifting the front/rear weight balance a touch rearward.
In developing the BRZ, Subaru took an almost maniacal approach to weight and its management, keeping it low and evenly distributed between the car's axles. The company claims that 54 percent of this car's mass rides on the front wheels and 46 over the rear, and says that its center of gravity is right around 18 inches high. That latter figure rivals or beats the measurements for the Porsche Cayman and Mazda RX-8, among others.
Helping keep the mass snug against Mother Earth is the FA flat-four. Compared to the FB four found in other Subies, the FA's intake is 2.6 inches lower and the oil pan clings closer to the crankcase, allowing it to be mounted with its crankshaft centerline 2.4 inches lower. Amazingly, the engine is mounted 9.4 inches farther back in the chassis than an Impreza's four. A Subaru spokesman says the two engines share "maybe a few screws," but are otherwise completely separate pieces. We're told the weight difference between the two is negligibly in favor of the A. Placing the engine so far rearward of course helps balance the car, but it also precludes Subaru from fitting an all-wheel-drive system. The company says that it has no room for a turbocharger either, but after peering under the hood, we disagree. Besides, Subaru desperately needs something to tie this car to the rest of its lineup, and a turbocharged STI model would be the perfect solution. Although the BRZ doesn't need more power, it certainly could handle more. We're guessing that a turbo will be part of whatever mid-cycle updates this car sees in two or three years.
Despite a displacement difference of just 3 cc, the naturally aspirated FA and FB fours have dramatically different outputs. The B's 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque (as installed in the Impreza) lag 52 and 6 behind the A's 200 and 151—Subaru's stated output—while the A's 7400-rpm redline is 800 higher. Thank Toyota's fuel-injection setup, which squirts both via intake ports and directly into the cylinder—the system is Big T's lone contribution to the engine—and allows a crushing compression ratio of 12.5:1. "Crushing" is not a descriptor we'd employ for the acceleration, although we estimate a zero-to-60-mph time of around six seconds flat with the six-speed manual; add a couple of tenths with the six-speed auto. Top speed is said to be 143 mph. A resonator pipes sound into the cabin, and above 5000 rpm, there's enough noise inside the car that you'll need to scream to talk. Not that you'll be having much conversation. That said, we wouldn't call the quality of the sound unmistakable; it could be taken for a number of undesirable things. Having heard what aftermarket exhaust companies do for other Subaru flat-fours, though, we’re confident that they can coax a better voice out of this 7400-rpm screamer.
In spite of its higher output, the FA should still manage 30 mpg on the highway, according to Subaru. Underbody paneling helps keep a clean aerodynamic profile, although the company still hasn't decided if the treatment will be standard on all U.S. cars or only on higher trim levels.
Even the Weenies are Treated Well
As mentioned, two six-speeds are available, a manual and an automatic. Following our drive of the BRZ in Japan, the manual had us seeking a temple at which we might make an offering of thanks. The clutch pedal is a touch light—and a touch light on feel—but snaps to attention right off the floor and engages smoothly, and the stubby shifter snicks between gates with ease. Heretics who buy their sports cars with automatics will at least get a good unit. There are two modes in the Subaru: Drive and Sport. Wheel-mounted paddles are standard; in D, the transmission allows them to make gearchange suggestions but still upshifts at redline and downshifts when the driver floors the accelerator. In Sport mode, however, paddle commands are gospel—the way God's lazy, automatic-driving half-brother intended.
While most of the engineering and chassis work is Subaru's doing, the styling fell to Toyota. It apparently drew a basic coupe shape and—well, it must have seen it created something less than sultry but stuck with it anyway. It's good enough. The view from abaft is actually fairly exciting, with the slope of the greenhouse hesitating just slightly to form a decklid before tumbling into the rear fascia. Only the front fascia, badges, and maybe wheels separate the BRZ from its Toyota—and Scion—sibling. The suggestion of flares on the front fenders merely alludes to the muscular (some might say exaggerated) styling of the various concept cars, but the U-shaped view from the driver's seat over the scooped-out hood is at least unique. Visibility in all directions is much better than most sports cars.
Interior space, on the other hand, is just about par. It's fine up front, and average/shortish adults might even be happy in the back for shorter trips. Subie touts this as the shortest rear-drive 2+2 on the market. So it is. It also says that the car can accommodate a forward-facing child seat in the back. A rear-facing seat, on the other hand, would probably only fit if the parent riding shotgun rides shotgun in a car following behind. The trunk will hold just seven cubic feet of stuff, although both halves of the rear seatback fold for larger loads. According to Subaru, the space was designed from the beginning to hold a set of racing tires and a toolbox in this configuration, although that claim coincided with a PowerPoint slide entitled "Unexpected Utility"; we suspect that's probably the real story behind the tire-hauling ability. Or maybe that's why the tires are just 215 millimeters wide, as fitting a set in the car requires a two-tire stack.
The BRZ goes on sale in spring of 2012 as an early '13 model, at a base price we're now told will be around $25,000. Asked to make sense of the BRZ, a Subaru representative says, "It makes sense if you sell enough of them." In the U.S., Subaru thinks that 5000 to 7000 per year would be enough. Ultimately, though, a car this good doesn’t need to make sense: Its brilliance is all the explanation we need.
Has a class leader gotten even stronger?
Being a segment leader is hard work, especially in a segment as hot as subcompact SUVs, which continues to grow rapidly. Subaru already has a solid foundation to stay on top, and now, the Forester's 2.5-liter flat-four engine is finding its way under the Crosstrek's hood in Sport and Limited trims. Will a more powerful engine be enough to keep this crossover relevant and fend off new rivals? We got a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport in to find out.
Does The Subaru Crosstrek Drive Better With More Power?
We've been begging Subaru for a more powerful Crosstrek since it made its debut as a 2013 model. Seven years later, the automaker finally obliged. So does the 2.5-liter's 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque make a noticeable difference over the base 2.0-liter's 152 hp and 145 lb-ft? Oh yeah. Passing, merging, and climbing steep inclines are a cinch; the Crosstrek moves promptly thanks to the bigger engine. In comparison, models with the 2.0-liter feel excruciatingly sluggish, especially on the freeway. Put your foot down at highway speeds, and the CVT immediately puts the engine in the sweet spot. However, from a standstill or at parking lot speeds, the transmission gets jumpy when you ease into the throttle, causing some head toss.
At the track, the Crosstrek Sport hit 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 87.7 mph. Our departed long-term Crosstrek 2.0i Premium took 1.2 seconds longer to reach 60 mph before finishing the quarter mile 0.9 second slower at 83.4 mph. Road test editor Chris Walton noted linear power delivery in Sport mode when launched with pedal overlap. If you just mash the accelerator, the CVT simulates shifts, resulting in slower acceleration. The Mazda CX-30 offers similar straight-line performance to the Crosstrek Sport. Turbocharged versions of the Kia Seltos are quicker, hitting 60 mph in 7.3 to 7.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.7 to 15.9 seconds.
As with most subcompact SUVs, the Crosstrek prioritizes daily usability over outright performance. When driven sanely, this lifted hatchback possesses good high-speed stability and stable handling. Ride comfort remains a highlight thanks to the suspension's ability to absorb road imperfections and harsh impacts without getting floaty. Accurate steering, which testing director Kim Reynolds appreciated, makes the Crosstrek easy to maneuver through corners and tight spaces. Body roll, while well-controlled, is noticeable because of the car's comfort-minded tuning.
On the skidpad, the Crosstrek Sport generated 0.79 g of lateral acceleration and finished the figure-eight course in 27.9 seconds with a 0.60 g average, which is in the same ballpark as the Mazda CX-30 and Kia Seltos. Surprisingly, our old long-term Crosstrek 2.0i Premium was quicker through the figure eight (27.3 seconds) but provided similar road-holding capabilities as our Sport trim test car. Even more surprising: The plug-in Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid lapped the figure eight in 27.3 seconds at 0.62 g average. Reynolds noted excessive understeer at the limit along with a noticeable lack of grip. Blame the latter on the standard all-season tires, which give up before the chassis does. Stopping from 60 mph took 124 feet, which is on par with most subcompact SUVs. Walton observed good initial bite but found that the Crosstrek dives a lot and the rear gets light during hard braking.
What's The Subaru Crosstrek Like To Live With?
Despite its small exterior footprint, the Crosstrek is supremely practical. Four adults fit comfortably, and the cargo area easily swallows bulky items, especially with the rear seats folded. Big windows provide an airy atmosphere and excellent visibility. The Crosstrek's solid materials will easily handle daily commuting and hauling your outdoorsy gear. It could use more sound insulation, though, because there's an excessive amount of engine and tire noise entering the cabin. Mazda's CX-30 has a quieter, more premium-feeling interior, but you sacrifice practicality and space as a trade-off.
The Crosstrek uses a version of Subaru's infotainment system that doesn't include the 11.6-inch display found in the Legacy and Outback. Our test car had the optional 8.0-inch touchscreen (a 6.5-inch unit is standard) complemented by physical shortcut buttons and knobs. This means you'll figure out how to use the interface in seconds, not hours like the new setup in other Subarus. You won't be digging through submenus in this iteration because most of the frequently used apps and features are one or two inputs away.
EyeSight, Subaru's active safety suite, remains one of the more accurate systems. Lane keep assist does a great job maintaining the center of the lane, gently nudging you over when you get close to the dividers. Adaptive cruise control accelerates and brakes naturally, and the distancing isn't so conservative that another vehicle can cut you off. If only the system would stop making so much noise. EyeSight beeps to let you know when the lane keeping system's steering assistance component turns off and when the two stereo cameras don't see the lane lines. Yeah, it gets irritating quickly.
Is The Subaru Crosstrek Still One Of The Best?
The Subaru Crosstrek's multitalented nature has helped it become a best-seller in the subcompact SUV class. With more power available on the Sport and Limited trims, you get to have your cake and eat it too. No, this doesn't turn the Crosstrek into a lifted hot hatch. Instead, think of this as a drivability enhancement that makes the car even more compelling despite the arrival of new competition. Comfortable, practical, easy to drive, and efficient (EPA-rated at 26/34 mpg city/highway with the 2.5-liter), this little rig is a well-rounded package. We hope that the next-generation Crosstrek builds on this formula, and maybe—just maybe—a subcompact SUV will finally nab the Golden Calipers.