2017 Subaru BRZ Review

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here

Subaru is giving the black sheep of its lineup a refresh: The BRZ gets more performance, a better interior, and feels more refined.

But let’s address the elephant in the room. Power has not been significantly increased. Manual transmission models get a five horsepower nudge, for a total of 205 ponies and 156 lb-ft of torque. And while this car gets new internals to support that extra juice, Subaru insists that the more durable and beefier engine components are standard operating procedure when refining a motor, and that the upgrades haven’t been made to prepare for the high-horsepower STI model that enthusiasts are dreaming of.

These changes deliver a slight change to the engine’s sound — it sounds like it just cleared its throat after being choked up and nervous the first few years of its life. The BRZ is an awkward fit in the Subaru lineup, featuring rear-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive and a less-than-practical two-door setup, whereas the rest of Subaru’s offerings are far friendlier for those looking for a daily driver. Fortunately, there’s still a tangible need for the BRZ. It’s an honest sports car in a world full of heavy, high-tech, turbocharged, point-and-shoot cars. This rear-wheel-drive coupe still weighs in at well under 3,000 pounds, has a responsive naturally aspirated engine, and begs to be revved out and shifted often (at redline.)


Engine: 2.0L boxer 4-cylinder
Power: 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-speed auto or 6-speed manual
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 21 city, 29 highway, 24 combined (MT)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): Not yet available
Price (USD): Starts at $26,315 including delivery
Price (CAD): $27,995 not including freight and destination
2017 subaru brz review

Other Upgrades

Technical changes are plentiful, considering this is a mere refresh. In addition to the engine upgrades, the manual transmission gets a shorter final gear ratio, which means that there’s a bit more mid-range responsiveness and a bit more engine speed in sixth gear. You may also notice the need to change gears a bit more often, too.

The front and rear suspension have been revised, with the car sporting new bushings, differential mounts, modified rear stabilizer bars and improved coil spring rates. These changes, in addition to revised damping tuning, means that the car is smoother on the road, but still as responsive as always.

2017 subaru brz review

To test these performance enhancements, we hit the track with the 2017 Subaru BRZ, and the results were nothing short of impressive.

Those looking for more confidence in a sports car, however, can get the new performance package, which includes an even sportier suspension and bigger brakes. It sounds like a must-have for anyone considering tracking their car, but Northerners should be warned, as there’s no such package available in Canada. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to test the new package yet. Wait for it to arrive later this year.

On the Track

2017 subaru brz review

On the track, the five extra horsepower is barely noticeable, but the car does respond better. It revs a bit more urgently and that shorter final drive ratio is clearly working to the car’s advantage. The transmission is still nice and notchy, with easy-to-find gates, but the light clutch and lack of feedback with the pedal hasn’t been addressed.

The suspension feels nice and progressive. The car can still rotate, but it does so a bit more predictably than before. Even without the performance package, the coupe is still a blast around the track, and has a more planted feel that is less harsh than the last time we drove this car.

2017 subaru brz review

The steering is still among the best electric power-assisted setups in the industry, and the car clearly communicates to the driver exactly what is happening at all four corners of the car. “I’m sliding,” it will squeal at one corner. “This is understeer,” it shudders in another. “You lined up that corner perfectly,” it will say as it screams to redline. Every lap, the car rewards you for exploring a bit closer to your limit.

A new stability control program is standard on the car. Called Track mode, it replaces the old Sport mode. Subaru has dialed back the intervention in this mode, and any braking it applies feels natural and hardly abrupt. The car is still able to hold a nice drift while using this setting. Hey, what can I say? I was encouraged to test out the new mode very thoroughly!

Styling Refresh

2017 subaru brz review

Sadly, the slippery stock tires are still fitted to the car, but there are new wheels, making for a stylish upgrade. That’s not the only stylish change on the car. A revised front and rear bumper are also found, along with updated head and tail lights. The car now uses LEDs for everything, promising lower energy consumption and bright illumination. There’s a new standard spoiler that doesn’t obstruct rearward visibility, STI-style, and actually improves aerodynamics. The fender accent has been changed from a single blade to a new dual blade look, and the interior has been touched up as well.

Our example had a carbon-fiber textured trim, while higher trim level models featured leather accents on the dash and door panels. The new steering wheel is outfitted with entertainment controls, which some drivers will appreciate. A more tangible upgrade is the available new multifunction display that can show information like distance to empty, lap times, G-forces and horsepower/torque figures. It’s a slick screen and a great addition to the car. There’s been no significant upgrade with the infotainment system. BRZ models get a screen similar to the base Forester and Impreza, which means it comes without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.

2017 subaru brz review

What’s the Point Without the Power?

There’s no way to address the fact that enthusiasts want more power out of this car, and Subaru hasn’t done that. The track we used to evaluate the car featured some elevation changes, and some extra power and torque would have been really appreciated. However, there’s also a sense of satisfaction with the BRZ, that comes when you line up the track perfectly. The car feels faster when you drive it the right way. It teaches you how to use its light weight and agile handling with every lap turned. This is something that’s missing from point-and-shoot, high-horsepower cars. Those give you the thrills without the experience that you earn from learning the car and the track. The BRZ has a lesson to teach and it’s a gratifying one. If you want to go fast without thinking, get another car, like a Mustang, Camaro, or WRX. The BRZ requires you to be involved and a willing student. Pricing is a big part of the BRZs story too. In America the car is under is $26,315 including delivery. In Canada it’s $27,995 not including freight and destination.

2017 subaru brz review

The Verdict: 2017 Subaru BRZ Review

On the road, the BRZ is a blast. It’s smooth, fun, good looking and balanced. These traits translate nicely on the track, where you can explore your limits and the limits of the car quickly and easily, without any fears. This 2017 model is the same rear-wheel-drive sports car we’ve loved for the past five years, but slightly refined to deliver more of what we liked about it.

Discuss this story on our Subaru BRZ Forum


  • Balanced handling
  • Responsive
  • Slightly more refined


  • Not a huge power boost
  • Light clutch
  • Ill-suited tires
Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

More by Sami Haj-Assaad

Join the conversation
9 of 12 comments
  • Mark S Mark S on Jul 23, 2016

    Getting to the point where I wince when I see BRZ or 86 articles on websites, because of the torrent of "more power" from the non-owners. Like if the car makers magically add 50hp and 100 lbs ft, these folks would suddenly buy these cars.... Apart from the expense of a turbo and the effect on the handling, just fitting the plumbing in the BRZ is a task and half when u compare the engine bay in the WRX vs BRZ. That said, if a special small volume edition was to be made with more power, there would be a some folks willing to pay for this warranty bestowed car vs adding the snail after market and voiding the warranty - my guess is we are talking $35 to 40k though, pricey. Like what Subie has done for the most part - the spoiler is far more appealing that the old one. Not a fan of buttons on steering wheels - I like the current wheel that has nothing on it, nice and clean. Wish they would get rid of the analogy speedometer, or at least alter the range to make it useful, I rely on the digital.

    • See 6 previous
    • Mark S Mark S on Jul 28, 2016

      The need for winter tires is exactly what the Everyday Driver presenter said, they even did a video driving the FR-S in the middle of winter in and around Salt Lake City. I am lucky enough to live where we get no snow (though we need rain!), but nice to know the FR-S is that flexible. When I lived in New England, I think I could have been driving a Landie, I still needed a plough truck. I think my FR-S being black may hide the gaps a little with respect to the wheels. As mentioned in a previous post, it is a dealer offering me discounts on TRD parts that is maybe the main cause of pondering a some trinkets. Now Subie has updated the BRZ, will be interesting to see where Toyota takes the 86 in the future. Am hoping they consider a full on 2.0 in the long term. About reviewing cars, if I knew that I was going to be testing Focus RS's, Cayman 718's, Hellcats etc., then heck I would be happy with a Prius as a daily driver! Please though, not saying that life is easy in the car review world, but if you can get paid for what you like doing, that is an awesome way to live.

  • Jan Jan on Aug 02, 2016

    Skimming, and minor issue, but there is now a screen readout and no longer an analog coolant temp display. Can this screen display other than G-forces? Can we get coolant or oil temp info in real-time?