- Scalpel-precise handling
- Back-to-basics sports car
- Return of track-ready tS
- Good outward visibility
- Not quite enough power
- Steeper cost of entry this year
- Puny back seat
- No convertible or turbo version
features & specs
Like a featherweight champion, the 2020 Subaru BRZ proves lighter and smaller can sometimes be superior.
Sports cars haven’t always been about power and prestige. In another era light weight and balance reigned over horsepower. The 2020 Subaru BRZ throws back to that era, and impresses with its sharp moves and looks, though the diminutive size and lack of power aren’t for everyone. We give it 5.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2020 BRZ brings the more hardcore tS model back from the grave for a limited run of just 300 U.S.-bound examples, all finished in white and with bronze wheels. The wing is slimmed down and shortened dramatically over the 2018 model, but performance upgrades remain the same. The rest of the lineup is now limited (fittingly) to just the Limited model, making touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard as well as other desirable features.
A joint effort between Toyota and Subaru, the BRZ (also known as the Toyota 86) is a well-balanced sports car with sharp handling, but its 200-horsepower boxer engine leaves us wanting more. Styling is sharp as ever and features the right coupe proportions but having seen this face around with minimal changes for years now, we’re beginning to tire of it.
The interior is best suited for two though can fit four, and while the trunk can hold four track tires with the rear seat folded down—a neat feature for those who intend to race their BRZ—it’s hardly usable for anything more than a bunch of groceries or a couple small suitcases.
With the top-tier Limited model the only remaining choice besides the 300-unit tS special edition, all BRZs get features like 7.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather and Alcantara upholstery, but for a higher base price of $29,745 (including $900 destination charge).
Safety scores are incomplete, and while the automatic-equipped model manages 27 mpg combined, you’ll want to choose the less-efficient but way more fun manual transmission for best results.
2020 Subaru BRZ
The 2020 Subaru BRZ checks all the right small sports car boxes, but the shape’s growing old.
If you didn’t like the 2020 Subaru BRZ when it debuted eight years ago, you probably won’t like it now either. That said, we think the little Subie has just the right small coupe proportions, though is certainly showing its age. That’s good for 7 out of 10 here.
With LED headlights, a bubble-roof profile, and short overhangs, the BRZ is unmistakable for anything but a small modern sports coupe, giving us just the right amount of fender flare and wide stance to check our boxes.
The interior is refreshingly simple and bare, a wide, flat dashboard housing just the infotainment screen, climate controls, and vents. The gauges are straightforward and give you only information immediately important for spirited driving, and we love the round, just-right steering wheel.
That said, the looks have hardly changed, and while we appreciate seeing any small sports car on the road over yet another anonymous crossover, the BRZ is looking stale.
2020 Subaru BRZ
The 2020 Subaru BRZ is one of the most fun cars to drive on a twisty back road, but it still desperately needs more power.
The 2020 Subaru BRZ takes a back to basics approach, and the results are a riot, though not particularly speedy. We give it 8 out of 10 here, as the list of fun-to-drive cars that can do what it does within posted speed limits is exceedingly thin.
The BRZ is analog in a digital world, and we’re thankful for it. A 2.0-liter flat-4 is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and rear differential, making it the only rear-wheel-drive Subie ever. A 6-speed automatic transmission is also available, but don’t bother unless you can’t drive stick.
At 205 horsepower (200 for the automatic version), this growling flat-4 isn’t necessarily slow, but its 156 pound-feet of torque isn’t nearly as much as we’d like. Subaru fans have been clamoring for a turbocharged BRZ for years, and now nearing the end of its run, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see one from the factory.
A wonderfully balanced suspension and playful driving dynamics help make up for the lack of power though, and now with the track-focused tS model back this year, the BRZ is just as fun to toss around as ever. The tS adds better brakes, stiffer suspension, and other goodies from Subaru’s STI in-house tuning division for the most engaging BRZ experience, but stick to the standard Limited model (and skip the performance package) for better on-road results.
Speaking of which, the suspension is compliant enough in base form, but a family SUV or luxury sedan this is absolutely not.
2020 Subaru BRZ
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Subaru BRZ is really meant for two occupants at most, but can hold a full set of tires for track day with the rear seat folded down.
The 2020 Subaru BRZ is a small sports coupe, and hauls people and stuff just about as well as you’d expect it to, which is to say, not well. We give it 4 out of 10 here, with a point for its front seats and two deducted for tight rear seats and puny trunk space.
Technically, the BRZ fits four occupants, but we suggest ignoring the rear seat entirely and keeping it folded flat unless you really need more than one passenger. In the trunk, there’s just 6.9 cubic feet of usable space, though with the rear seat folded down and the pass-through open, you’re able to fit a full set of wheels and tires for a track day, which is a neat feature.
The cabin is low slung, and the sporty seats have thick bolsters, so those with bad knees and backs may not appreciate ingress and egress, but kids will be just fine. Head room is good for such a small, low car thanks to the bubble roof design, and outward vision is also impressive.
If you happen to find yourself in the back seat of the BRZ, we’re sorry, as the twin buckets are best suited for children, and only seldom at that.
Material quality is generally good though, as you’d expect from a Subaru/Toyota joint effort, though hard plastics do show up in some conspicuous places.
2020 Subaru BRZ
The 2020 Subaru BRZ has limited and mixed crash test results, and lacks any active safety technology as standard or optional.
The 2020 Subaru BRZ doesn’t have a full safety score card, so we can’t rate it here.
Though it lacks full scores, the BRZ gets four stars for frontal crash tests and five stars for rollover safety from the NHTSA, and the independent IIHS has given it a “Good” rating in every category it was tested for, minus an “Acceptable” in the small front overlap test on the driver’s side. Those are average results for any car, and with the increasing size of the average vehicle on U.S. roads, the BRZ’s diminutive stature may be of concern.
The BRZ lacks any active safety tech like automatic emergency braking, even as an option.
2020 Subaru BRZ
The 2020 Subaru BRZ is more expensive this year by virtue of fewer trim levels, but as a result comes better-equipped than ever.
While other cars get more feature-laden by the year, the 2020 Subaru BRZ is refreshingly back-to-basics, and even slimmer in terms of trim options this year. We give it an average 6 out of 10, with points for value and infotainment.
For 2020, the BRZ is available just in top-tier Limited trim and tS limited edition, back from the grave after just one year away. The Limited version includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 17-inch wheels, leather and Alcantara upholstery, heated front seats, and a 6-speed manual transmission for $29,745 including $900 destination charge. An automatic transmission is available for just $1,100 more, and a performance package that adds Brembo brakes, Sachs shocks, and unique wheels is $1,195. We say stick with the stick-shift Limited fo
We say skip the performance pack and opt for the limited-edition tS model if you intend to take your BRZ on the track. With a limited run of only 300 U.S.-bound units, this track special—tuned by STI—includes multiple performance upgrades including stiffer dampers and springs, Brembos, and bronze 18-inch wheels mated to Michelin Pilot Sport tires. It’s only available in white.
The tS is available only with a manual transmission, and runs $32,395, a relative steal for what you get and its rarity.
2020 Subaru BRZ
The 2020 Subaru BRZ is only average in terms of efficiency, but fares better with an automatic transmission. Who wants that though?
Despite a light weight and sleek shape, the 2020 Subaru BRZ returns only average fuel economy, and that’s before you factor in hooliganism. We give it 4 out of 10 based on manual-shift models.
The BRZ returns 21 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined with the 6-speed manual equipped, those figures dropping to 20/27/23 mpg for the track-focused tS model.
If you choose the more expensive 6-speed automatic, the BRZ will manage 24/33/27 mpg, but at the cost of pure sports car thrills. Is the extra economy really worth that?