For the past five years, critics of the Subaru BRZ have been clamoring for this lightweight sports coupe to get some extra pep under the hood, and the 2017 Subaru BRZ finally delivers this. Just don’t get your hopes up.
You see, power output of the BRZ’s high-revving Boxer engine has only gained 5 hp and 5 lb.-ft. of torque, and that’s only with the manual transmission. But that isn’t the only improvement made to the 2017 Subaru BRZ as almost every aspect of this car has been revised to make it (and its sister car, the 2017 Toyota 86) look, feel, handle and perform better than the pre-2016 model – a car already renowned for doing all of the above quite well. So to see how a great sports coupe can get even greater, I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2017 Subaru BRZ Limited… with a six-speed manual, of course!
2017 Subaru BRZ Exterior:
If you want to see how subtle the laundry list of changes made to the 2017 Subaru BRZ is, just look at the exterior styling. Not unlike any other mid-cycle redesign, updates were limited to the soft parts such as the lights, bumpers and wheels. The front fascia of the 2017 Subaru BRZ gives the car a lower, wider appearance with bigger side air intakes and a lower chin spoiler that spans the entire width of the fascia. Other modest improvements include the new two-tone, 10-spoke design of the 17-in aluminum alloy wheels and the standard fitment of a two-tone (body color over black) aluminum rear spoiler. Finally, the use of full LED headlights, LED taillights and the Limited’s standard LED fog lights give the 2017 Subaru BRZ a modern presence.
2017 Subaru BRZ Interior:
Just like the exterior, Subaru tweaked the interior of the 2017 Subaru BRZ for improved refinement and styling, and the driver’s cockpit received all of the upgrades. New for 2017 is a leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel that now incorporates all of the buttons and controls for the standard STARLINK Multimedia system and the new 4.2-inch LCD multifunction display now housed in the gauge cluster. This screen is standard on the Limited trim level and, among other things, helps track performance data including lateral G, accelerator pedal position, braking force, steering angle, lap times and more.
The overall look of the 2017 Subaru BRZ combines a luxurious feel with the look expected of a small sports car, and this starts with the sport bucket seats wrapped in black leather with Alcantara accents. The sporty trend is continued through the cabin with red accent stitching on just about every surface, fake carbon fiber trim on the center stack and toggle-style controls for the HVAC system. Although there is a rear seat, space is extremely limited as maximizing front occupant comfort generally meant sliding the front seats back far enough that they actually touched the rear seat bottom. For all practical purposes, the 2017 Subaru BRZ is a two-seater, but its fold-down rear seat and 6.9 cubic feet of trunk space do add some versatility to this coupe.
2017 Subaru BRZ Performance:
And now we get to the engine of the 2017 Subaru BRZ. The engine is still a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed Boxer engine with a mix of direct and port fuel injection, but the addition of new cylinder heads, valves, camshaft, aluminum intake manifold and redesigned exhaust manifolds helps the 2017 Subaru BRZ produce up to 205 hp and 156 lb.-ft. of torque with the manual transmission; with the automatic, the previous BRZ’s 200 hp and 151 lb.-ft. of torque rating carries over. That might not seem like a big jump in power, but it is sufficient for a car that, as-tested, weighs just 2,793 pounds.
Of course, the engine wasn’t the only area that Subaru decided to focus on when it comes to the performance of the 2017 Subaru BRZ. The chassis received additional strengthening, the suspension was revised with new springs and dampers and a larger rear stabilizer bar and the rear-end axle ratio has been shortened to improve quicker acceleration. The six-speed manual transmission used in the 2017 Subaru BRZ is arguably one of the best on the market with direct, short throws, and if you had to come up with a reason to choose the automatic over the manual, it would be for fuel economy purposes. With the manual, the BRZ has EPA fuel economy estimates of 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway**, but opting for the more expensive six-speed automatic improves these numbers to 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway**. Other notable upgrades include Incline Start Assist now standard on all trim levels and a revised stability control system that now offers a Track mode. Whether you’re motoring around town or carving up canyon roads, the changes made to the 2017 Subaru BRZ definitely improve the balance, responsiveness and overall refinement of this peppy, lightweight coupe.
2017 Subaru BRZ Safety:
The 2017 Subaru BRZ is obviously focused on providing a fun and exciting driving experience, but it delivers big on safety, too. This sports car received “Good” ratings in all crash tests except small frontal overlap (where it earned an “Acceptable” rating) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and while the 2017 model year car has not been tested by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the very similar 2016 model year was given a five-star overall crash rating.
2017 Subaru BRZ Overall:
If you’re in the market for a sports car that won’t break the bank, the Subaru BRZ is probably already high atop your wish list, and the changes made to the 2017 Subaru BRZ makes this car a must-buy. Not only does this sporty coupe now deliver improved performance capabilities and updated styling, but the starting price of $25,495* keeps up with rival sport compacts like the Mazda Miata and Ford Focus ST. Opting for the well-equipped BRZ Limited brings a starting price of $27,645*, and this particular car had an as-tested price of $28,465 including destination.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Subaru dealer and test drive the 2017 Subaru BRZ today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.