Our second drive in the second generation coupe brought a new clarity to its purpose.
The sound of car tires skidding on dry pavement, at the least the first time you hear it, is a scary, violent sound. As you grow up you learn to pair that sound with the sound of glass breaking and crunching metal. When you don't hear that sickening finale, you breathe a sigh of relief.
Then couple years ago, okay a couple decades ago, Japanese car enthusiasts started sliding down the snowy mountain roads in their home country. It found it's way to the pinnacle of US car enthusiasm, southern California, and the rest is history. Formula Drift, the first US-based competition for the sport, just finished its 18th season with Fredric Aasbo as its champion.
All of that to say, drifting is one of the most fun things you can do in a vehicle, along with driving on grass and jumping. And there's probably no car better today for the beginning drifter than the 2022 Subaru BRZ. You don't need a ton of power to drift, just a balance between motive force and slippery tires. And the BRZ has it in spades.
The last Subaru BRZ, and Toyota 86 for that matter, weren't slow cars. They weren't fast either, and maybe a little weak in the midrange, but they were rear-wheel drive, came with a manual and were mega fun to drive with just 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque.
But for the second-generation Subaru gave us what we wanted, which was a little more power. There were a lot of fans wanting an WRX STI-style high-strung powerplant, and we admit that would be fun. But the 228 hp and 184 lb-ft now coming out of the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter boxer four under the hood makes this car nearly perfect.
As it is now, the BRZ will break the tires free around almost any corner, and if you dump the clutch it'll lay a patch of rubber right where you dropped it. The previous BRZ took a little effort to get it sideways, just a little, but this new car is happiest when there's a bunch of opposite lock dialed in. So happy and eager, that it's enough to make the driver sick. Which has only happened in one other car: the Chevy Corvette ZR-1. Good company to keep.
You get a choice with the new BRZ, and it's an important one. You can spec the all-season 17-inch Michelin Primacy tires measuring 215/45, or the summer-style Pilot Sport 4S tires with the same dimensions. But those PS4Ss are rated for higher speed. It all depends on your plans for your time with the coupe.
If you want to lay down lap times at track days, you have to spec the stickier Michelin PS4Ss. They're installed from the factory on a ton of cars now and are better at all temperatures. They also last longer and lose grip slower than their predecessors on a weekend track day.
If your plan is to just have fun with the BRZ, maybe take it to a few autocross events and show off on the weekends, get the slipperier tires. You'll thank us when you can't get the grin off your face as you imagine yourself as a professional drifter, taking out Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Tanner Foust. They're also cheaper to replace.
Between the weight balance, the 50% more torsional stiffness over the previous version and the low center of gravity, there aren't many cars more conductive between you and the road than this BRZ. It does have electric power steering, which takes a deep knowledge of engineering to let that feedback come through. But Subaru has done it.
The steering wheel is thinner than something you'd find on a BMW, but it's weighted perfectly to detect what the tires are doing. And that's important when you're stretching out a drift before you cut back the other way. You need to know what the front tires are doing as much as the back tires. Its low curb weight of 2,815 pounds just adds to the sensitivity of it all.
The only real problem with the BRZ is utility. It doesn't have very much. It's a touch cheaper than the VW Golf GTI, which we love, but the Golf can fit four adults, or two adults and two kids. With the BRZ your choices are two adults, one adult and one kid kitty corner, and maybe two adults and one older kid sitting in the back, side saddle.
But if your household has two cars, and if one of them can carry your whole family with ease, and if you're an enthusiast on a budget, you can't do much better than the BRZ. If you get a chance to ditch those kids and go on a road trip, you'll get 30 mpg on the highway. But that's only in a straight line. If you start spinning those tires, expect that number to drop precipitously.