Sports Subaru Cars
That list looks thin, but the equipment plays well with the subtle updates made to every 2017 BRZ. Engine tweaks include a revised airbox feeding a tuned aluminum intake manifold, freer-flowing exhaust, camshaft and valvetrain surfaces that have been through an intense polishing process to reduce friction, and a different tune for the direct-fuel-injection pump to reduce parasitic loss. In the chassis, revisions include reinforced mounting points for the front strut-tower brace, the transmission, and the rear struts, as well as a rear anti-roll bar that’s 1.0 millimeter larger in diameter, revised spring rates, and a reprogrammed stability-control system that’s less intrusive than before.
The cabin of the 2017 BRZ feels more upscale, continuing a trend for Subaru as a whole, but driving enthusiasts of the sort who care most about this review will focus on the smaller-diameter steering wheel that now features built-in audio controls; these were added in response to owner feedback. If you’re not a fan of electrically assisted steering, the 2017 BRZ won’t convert you. Still, its accuracy is quite good, allowing the driver to aim the car precisely and displaying none of the rubbery hysteresis found in many electrically assisted systems.
The 2017 car feels quicker than before—and it is, by 0.1 second to 60 mph according to our testing—which we’ll credit to sharper throttle mapping in conjunction with a new 4.30:1 final-drive ratio on manual-transmission cars (the previous BRZ had a 4.10:1 ratio). If you’re looking to feel the meager difference in power from the engine itself, we suggest starting your Whole30 program the day you take delivery of your BRZ.
The on-track balance of the BRZ Performance pack brings to mind the Acura Integra Type R of 20 years ago, another niche variant that didn’t look like much on paper but which took advantage of well-chosen little tweaks and upgrades to make something that transcended its parts manifest. The Acura’s VTEC engine was more exciting but less powerful than the BRZ’s, and, yes, it was a front-wheel-drive car, but its appeal similarly rested in the understanding of how to maximize driving pleasure.
It takes gifted chassis specialists to understand how to make all these elements play together so well. Subaru should take it as a compliment that the internet chorus consistently screams, “More power!”—it’s a testament to the BRZ’s exemplary chassis. The Performance package allows more leeway than ever for a horsepower boost. But the focus of the BRZ has always been handling and balance. If you accept the BRZ on its own terms, you won’t need convincing. If you’ve been on the fence, this Performance package could push you right off it. Warning: You’ll be shopping for aftermarket turbocharger kits long before the factory tires wear out.