2024 Subaru BRZ tS: Next level

Subaru

For the 2024 model year, Subaru adds some special pop to the sporty 2+2 BRZ, and the changes are not under the hood. They’re below what’s under the hood.

This enthusiast brand and its enthusiast car, which is now in the third year of its second generation, just got some upgrades to be more, well, enthusiastic about. The latest tS model, tuned by Subaru’s STI performance division, plusses out the already fun-to-drive BRZ in a couple of different ways.

First, Subie swaps out the standard dampers for Hitachi’s Sensitive Frequency Response Dampers (SFRD). These marvels of modern driving tech mechanically adjust internal valves, making micro corrections as they respond to road imperfections. The rears only receive single-mode dampers, but you won’t care because they’re tuned to the same specifications as the front SFRDs. Expertly tuned by STI, the BRZ tS gets transformed into a formidable driver’s car. Uneven pavement, potholes—I was shocked, no pun intended, at how little these left the BRZ unsettled. Regardless of imperfect road conditions, my passenger and I could have sipped tea without a spill.

The tS also gets upgraded stoppers with 12.8-inch ventilated discs. Squeezing you to a stop are four-piston Brembo calipers—painted gold, thank you so much. At the rear, the car is equipped with 12.4-inch discs with dual-piston gold Brembos. Steering feels light, but not too light, and quick, must-have characteristics on hairpin turns, where the BRZ handles like a much more expensive car. Turn-in feels sharp and body roll mitigated to a whisper.

Packed with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, the BRZ, a joint venture with Toyota, gets moving with 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 3700 rpm. If that doesn’t sound like much, factor in its 2846-pound curb weight, and things become more interesting.

2024 Subaru BRZ tS driving rear three quarter
Subaru

A smooth-shifting six-speed transmission comes standard, but you can order the BRZ with an automatic if you’d prefer. Most BRZ buyers don’t: with a 73.8 percent take rate on the DIY gear selector, Subaru is succeeding where most car companies are failing—it’s saving the manuals. Though redline arrives at 7000 rpm, the gear ratios feel well-tuned. Second and third do the heavy lifting when carving canyons, even though you don’t get into the meat of the powerband until close to 4000 rpm. Because the car is so light, however, that doesn’t feel as though it hampers performance.

Around the 18-inch allow wheels wrap 215/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, which afford the BRZ excellent grip under the right conditions. Driver beware in the rain, though: I found out the hard way, on a wet, tight turn taken too quickly, that even with nannies, the BRZ’s back end can quickly get away from you.

Specs: 2024 Subaru BRZ tS

Price: $31,315 (base), $36,465 (as tested)
Powertrain: 2.4-liter boxer four-cylinder, six-speed manual transmission
Horsepower: 228 @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 183 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm
Layout: rear-drive, two-door, four-passenger coupe
Weight: 2846 pounds
EPA-rated fuel economy (city/highway/average): 20/27/22 mpg
Competitors: Toyota GR86, Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Elantra N

You may not get more power in the tS than you do in a regular BRZ, but with both brake and suspension improvements, you’ll have free rein to push what you do have far further. The BRZ has a naturally low center of gravity—at 17.95 inches, slightly lower than the mid-engine Corvette—which helps make this lightweight rear-driver epic amounts of fun to drive.

If you’re afraid to have too much fun, then Subaru has you covered. Even equipped with the manual transmission, EyeSight, Subaru’s suite of advanced safety technology, is now available on all BRZs. That even includes Subaru’s Adaptive Cruise Control, though it won’t make a complete stop for you. The rules of physics still apply: If you’re using ACC on a manual BRZ, you can still stall out on the freeway. You also get a pre-collision warning and braking system, lane departure, and sway warnings, though thankfully the systems are easy to disengage if you’re planning on a spirited canyon drive—and I highly recommend you do.

Subaru swathes the interior of the tS in black cloth with trim-specific blue stitching and seat accents. The sport-designed front seats offer the driver enough support but aren’t uncomfortable during a longer haul. The surprisingly plush interior is rounded out by a leather steering wheel and boot cover, a large-enough 8-inch multimedia touch screen, which integrates Smartphones, Bluetooth, and XM technology, a 7-inch digital gauge screen, and red STI badging and accents.

From the outside, in addition to those blingy brakes, you’ll know you’re driving a BRZ tS by the script on the front grille. “BRZ tS” also appears on the rear decklid, but what you won’t find back there is a wing, which used to grace the tS in previous iterations; Subaru omitted the wing to help keep costs down.

Speaking of, the Subaru BRZ tS gets a sticker price of $35,345. That doesn’t include Subaru’s $1120 destination and delivery fee. For a fun performance rear-wheel drive car with a manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension that lives up to the hype, and brakes to get it all safely to a stop that sounds like a deal. The BRZ Premium, which is the entry-level trim, starts at $30,195.

While some folks might remain unaware of the BRZ’s existence, all the right buyers know. According to Subaru’s sales statistics, BRZ buyers rank as some of the brand’s youngest customers, showing that Subaru is doing a second thing that most manufacturers can only dream of: keeping driving alive for the next generation.

2024 Subaru BRZ tS

Highs: Transformative suspension upgrades. Solid, confidence-inspiring brakes. Smooth-shifting gearbox.

Lows: Surprising low fuel economy. Infotainment screen on the small side. No additional power in the sportier trim.

Verdict: New tS upgrades put the already spirited BRZ into true driver’s car territory.

 

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Comments

    My only issue is the price of these things. It feels like a car that should barely exceed $30k to me. Inflation stinks.

    That gigantic ipad-ish thing in the dash and the black outer body cladding turn me off. The WRX does not seem to have advanced much since I owned one 15+ years ago.

    Anyone who complains about the lack of a turbo and gobs of horsepower hasn’t driven one of these things. They are a joy to drive! My biggest issue is getting in an out of it. Getting old just sucks.

    I’ve owned two BRZs, a ’13 and a ’17, and they were the most fun to drive of any car I’ve ever owned. I instantly regretted selling the ’17 the moment it left my driveway. The only reason I don’t have one now is because of the “old guy in a sports car” stigma, which I need to get past.

    The Scion FRS was a similar joy. Small, light, inexpensive, with just enough power and the right configuration to just have gobs of fun. I remember Jeremy Clarkson having a blast with one on Top Gear (although it my have been the Toyota branded version).

    I agree. This is a fun, lightweight, well-balanced car that fun to drive. If you want more power, buy a Supra or Corvette.

    Driving a lower-powered car fast is more fun than driving a powerful car slow. Left and rights are just as much fun as straight line acceleration. You can drive the BRZ (FRS/GR86) at the limits and not be worried about tickets or killing yourself.

    Why not do a short overview of the Hp upgrades for this engine in the aftermarket.
    Only thing this car lacks is a bit more zoom-zoom from the engine room.

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