With automobiles, redesigns can make or break the case for continuing a model. Typically, the redesign model gets bigger (and often significantly heavier) as the manufacturer listens to owner’s feedback from the previous generation vehicle while federal safety standards continue to increase the minimum number of air bags and other safety equipment on vehicles. Fortunately, the second-generation GR86 and BRZ didn’t get bigger, but instead got much stronger. While the curb weight increased about 50 pounds (almost 2 percent), the engine increased in displacement by 20 percent and delivers 28 percent more power to the wheels. It is safe to say that if you liked the first-generation Scion FR-S, Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ, you are going to love the 2022 GR86 and 2022 Subaru BRZ. If you weren’t a fan of the first-generation vehicles, the dramatic improvement in chassis rigidity, interior refinement and power output may be enough to win you over. While the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ share many similarities, understanding the differences will ensure that you get the model that is the best fit for you.
By Michael Ferrara // Photos by Joe SingletonDSPORT Issue #245
Two Models, Two Editions
The Toyota/Subaru collaboration for the second-generation front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sportscar is available in both a Toyota GR86 model and a Subaru BRZ model for the 2022 model year. In addition to having two models, there are also two editions (or trim packages) available for each of the models. Toyota offers the GR86 in a Standard edition (just called the GR86) and a Premium edition (GR86 Premium). Subaru offers the BRZ in a Premium edition and a higher-level Limited edition.
From the rear, only the badges are different. However, GR86 purchasers can opt for the duckbill spoiler provided with the GR86 premium edition.
Entry-Level Edition Pricing
Toyota’s GR86 Standard and Subaru’s Premium edition represent the entry-level editions of the vehicle. These are available with the paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic (additional $1,525 for GR86 or additional $1,600 for BRZ) or the 6-speed manual. The 6-speed manual transmission vehicles will be $28,700 and $28,980 for the GR86 and BRZ, respectively after destination charges. The 6-speed automatic transmission vehicles will be $30,225 for the GR86 and $30,590 for the BRZ. Ultimately, it runs an additional $280 on the manual trans to get the BRZ instead of the GR86 in the entry-level edition. For those seeking to let the computer have all the fun shifting, it is a $365 premium to get the BRZ.
GR86 (L) BRZ Limited (R)
Upgraded Edition Pricing
Toyota’s GR86 Premium and Subaru’s Limited edition represent the factory upgraded editions of the vehicle. Major upgrades include a better wheel and tire package, Ultrasuede covered seats and interior and an improved sound system. The GR86 Premium editions will also receive a duckbill rear spoiler. The 6-speed manual transmission upgraded vehicles will be $31,325 for the GR86 Premium and $31,490 for the BRZ Limited. This represents a $2,625 premium with the GR86 model or a $2,510 premium with the BRZ Limited. The 6-speed automatic transmission vehicles will be $32,825 for the GR86 Premium and $33,290 for the BRZ. Ultimately, it runs an additional $165 on the manual trans to get the BRZ instead of the GR86 in the entry-level edition. For the auto transmission, it is a $465 premium to get the BRZ.
GR86 (L) BRZ Limited (R)
GR86 Premium/BRZ Limited Worth it?
Normally, I’m the last person to suggest someone spend additional money at the dealership to get an elevated edition. However, with the GR86 Premium and BRZ Limited, the additional $2,500/$2,600 is worth it with few exceptions. Before getting into the limited exceptions, let’s review what is delivered for the additional spend.
Both entry-level vehicles come with 17×7.5-inch wheels featuring the 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP summer tires. The Primacy HP is a 240AA rated summer touring tire that doesn’t have enough grip to take all that the new FA24 powerplant can dish out. If you are looking for a tire that will easily let the rear of the car step out under spirited driving, this is it. When you go to the upgraded editions, the wheels go up an inch in diameter to an 18×7.5-inch while the tire gets upgraded to the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 in a 215/40R18 spec. Compared to the Primacy HP, the Pilot Sport 4 simply does everything better due to its superior technology (at a premium cost). Grip is substantially increased while treadware rating is 33% higher at 320AA. The upgraded wheel and tire set allows for improved handling without the decrease in ride comfort usually associated with a +1 tire and wheel upgrade. Admittedly, many enthusiasts may be opting to go to a wider wheel and tire package using aftermarket performance wheels and tires.
Entry-level editions will have cloth covered seats that get the job done. However, the upgraded editions will have a synthetic Ultrasuede and leather trimmed interior that both looks and functions better. I do not know if the foam inside the seats is upgraded with the GR86 Premium and BRZ Limited editions or if it’s just that the Ultrasuede is just that amazing, but the seats not only feel and look better, they seem to work better both in the comfort and support arena. They are also heated which is a nice addition for those in colder climates. The Ultrasuede and leather-trimming of the interior definitely add a superior look to the interior. Of course, some DSPORT readers that frequent the track may already have plans to ditch the factory seats to save some weight and improve the driver connection to the vehicle.
If the wheel/tire package and interior upgrades aren’t enough to get your vote for the upgraded edition, the superior sound system may win you over. While neither Toyota nor Subaru gets into details on the two audio systems with the exception of saying the base system is a 6-speaker configuration and the 8-speaker system (two additional speakers in dash) is on the GR86 Premium and BRZ Limited, your ears will tell you there’s more of a difference than just two additional speakers can provide. Our presumption is that there is also a substantial power difference between the two systems. The 6-speaker system is barely adequate for anyone that enjoys listening to music at elevated levels while the 8-speaker system sounds remarkably better. If you are at a dealership and don’t believe us, set the source the same in both a “6-speaker” and “8-speaker” system and hop back and forth between cars while the same song is playing. Not only is the bass much better on the “8-speaker” systems, the overall sound quality is much better too. This becomes even more apparent as the volume levels get turned up. We checked with OEM Audio Plus and they will support both the 6- and 8-speaker systems with audio upgrades. While prices are still to be determined, we expect the Stage-1 package that amplifies and optimizes the OEM speakers to come in around $1,500. This will allow an 6-speaker system to sound better than the 8-speaker system. For a total spend of about $2000, you’ll be able to upgrade the OEM drivers to OEM Audio Plus and improve the system further beyond the Stage-I package. If you really want to enjoy the audio experience, OEM Audio Plus will offer Reference systems with all of the above plus a single or twin subwoofer upgrade in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. The bottom line is solutions like OEM Audio Plus will allow you to get better than OEM premium sound later.
As for safety improvements that will keep you out of accidents, the upgraded editions feature blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive headlights. Features not really needed for a track car, but definitely appreciated on a daily driver.
What is Your Angle?
While the GR86 and BRZ are similar in appearance there is one noticeable difference, the front fascia. The front bumper cover is different between the two models. The BRZ seems to smile while the GR86 sports more of a poker face. From a functionality standpoint, both front bumpers look to provide good airflow to a future front mount intercooler if that aligns with future upgrades.
The Bottom Line
We do not live in “normal” times. The best advice for today is to buy whichever variant of the 2022 GR86/BRZ that you can at the best price possible. If you really want the GR86 Premium or BRZ Limited but can only find a standard GR86 or BRZ Premium, don’t worry. Buy the base model and with the money that you saved the audio, interior, exterior (spoiler) and wheel and tire can be upgraded to better than the best the OEM has to offer. If you really want the entry-level GR86 or BRZ Premium, but can only find the GR86 Premium and BRZ Limited, again, don’t worry. You can probably recoup a decent amount of the difference by swapping wheels and seats with someone that has the cloth interior and 17” wheels looking for the upgrades. Our only other piece of advice is to get the manual transmission. While it will take a little longer to master (if you don’t already know how to drive with three pedals), the ability to dance with your feet across the pedals to make the car do every trick in the book is much more fun than using a single foot across two pedals.