Fun, affordable sports cars aren’t dead yet, and not just because the Miata is still around. Toyota and Subaru both kept the reasonably-priced RWD fire going with the 86 and BRZ. And the second-generation versions have only improved on the first-gen models’ winning formulas. But while the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are better than ever, they’re still almost identical to each other. So, if you’re stuck in indecision territory, what difference does that ‘almost’ make?
The most important differences between the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are under the surface
Mechanically, the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are basically the same cars. They share a platform, 2.4-liter boxer four-cylinder, transmissions, wheels, tire options, and so on. Both cars also have the same interior design and materials. And while the GR86 and BRZ have different grilles and front-end designs, overall, their exterior layouts are virtually identical.
It turns out that spotting the differences between the 2022 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 requires looking below the surface. And in some cases, it means breaking out some tape measures.
Toyota and Subaru claim their respective cars’ engines are tuned differently. If they are, though, the differences are subtle. Both the 2022 GR86 and BRZ make 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. And while the BRZ is very slightly heavier, it was no slower to 60 mph than the GR86 in Car and Driver’s hands.
The differences in these cars’ suspension and steering systems are more drastic, though still fairly minor on paper. The 2022 Toyota GR86 has a larger-diameter and therefore stiffer rear sway bar than the Subaru BRZ. And while the BRZ has a hollow front sway bar, the GR86 has a narrower solid one. In addition, Toyota kept the rear bar mounted to the subframe, while Subaru bolted its bar to the BRZ’s body, The Drive notes. Also, the 2022 BRZ’s front springs and rear trail-link bushings are stiffer and its rear springs are softer than the versions in the GR86.
As for the steering, the 2022 Subaru BRZ has aluminum steering knuckles, while the Toyota GR86 has steel ones. Subaru claims the new knuckles reduce unsprung weight, which is interesting given that its car weighs slightly more.
There’s one more difference between the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ, but it’s not mechanical. The base GR86 trim is just ‘GR86’ and the Premium trim is the upgrade. Somewhat confusingly, Premium is the base BRZ trim, while Limited is the next one up.
Do these subtle changes make a significant difference in the real world?
For its part, Subaru claims the BRZ-specific tweaks make the car more stable and precise, The Drive reports. Having driven the 2022 BRZ on a racetrack, I can confirm that it does indeed feel stable and planted in the corners. However, when I drove the BRZ, it was at roughly 70% max attack on a track I’d never visited previously. What happens when the GR86 and BRZ go head-to-head in the hands of skilled drivers chasing lap times?
In short, the 2022 Toyota GR86 is slightly faster. It ran Car and Driver’s recent Lightning Lap at VIR 0.6 seconds ahead of the BRZ. And note, the GR86 didn’t have the high-temp DOT 4 brake fluid Subaru put in the BRZ it supplied. Furthermore, MotorTrend recorded faster times on the track and figure-eight course in the Toyota. Both tests had the cars on identical tires, by the way.
Painted with broad strokes, the 2022 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ display identical behavior, Car and Driver says. They both have excellent, sharp steering with nimble handling. However, they have distinct at-the-limit tendencies. The GR86 has more front-end bite and is slightly more tail-happy, but it always lets you know exactly what its rear end is doing. Meanwhile, though the BRZ grips more initially, it snaps more unexpectedly and suddenly, MT says. But it’s also more stable and planted on racetrack corners, and arguably more compliant on the street.
Which should you buy, the 2022 Subaru BRZ or the Toyota GR86?
Because the 2022 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 are so similar, you can’t really go wrong with either. They’re both solid, reliable RWD sports cars that you can pick up for around $30K. And while their back seats aren’t big, they do have them, so they’re more practical than a Miata.
Really, the best way to choose between them is the same as selecting ice cream flavors: try both and figure out which you like more. The GR86 is a bit more slide-y, yet also more playful, while the BRZ is slightly more composed. But both taste sweet on the street and the track.
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