Following the announcement of the Scion FR-S morphing into the Toyota 86 with various updates next year, it's not a huge surprise that a freshened Subaru BRZ will also land for the 2017 model year. While there's still no word on a full-fledged STI-tuned variant, the BRZ does have its performance game kicked up a notch with suspension, engine and style changes. Customers looking for even more capabilities will also be able to opt for a new performance package.
The 2017 changes begin with the chassis that gets revised springs, shock absorbers, larger rear antiroll bar and additional body reinforcements to the strut tower bars, transmission cross-member and rear wheel housing. Stability control has also been reworked to better handling enough to rename the previous "Sport" mode setting to "Track."
With enthusiasts still salivating for a turbo engine in the BRZ, the 2017 model will be a disappointment because the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine returns, but it does receive internal improvements. New valves, camshafts and cylinder heads go along with an aluminum intake manifold, and redone exhaust improves air flow. The result for vehicles equipped with the six-speed manual transmission is a slight output increase from 200 to 205 horsepower, and from 151 pound-feet of torque to 156. Manual models also have a lower final drive for quicker acceleration, and standard incline start assist to eliminate roll back during launches on hills.
For customers with track aspirations, an optional performance package will be available on Limited models with the manual gearbox. Brembo brakes, larger rotors in front and back, SACHS shock absorbers and special 17-by-7.5 black aluminum wheels to better prepare the BRZ for track duty.
Visually, the 2017 receives a new front bumper that's lower and more aerodynamic, LED headlights and housings with integrated daytime running lights, LED taillights, wheels, updated body color fender garnish, and standard body color aluminum rear wing. For the interior, Limited models get a 4.2-inch LCD gauge display for various information such as lateral Gs, accelerator pedal position, brake force, steering angle, oil temp and lap timer. There's also a new steering leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio; and multifunction display switches, redesigned climate controls and red "BRZ" logos embroidered into the front seatbacks.
The 2017 BRZ will continue to be offered in Premium and Limited trim levels. Subaru's Starlink multimedia infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen display, HD radio, satellite radio, CD player, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and rearview camera is standard. Stepping up to a Limited model adds LED fog lights, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate controls, keyless entry, push-button start and seats with Alcantara inserts.
Look for Premium and Limited models to reach dealers in September, while Limited cars with the performance package will be available in winter.