The BRZ is like the best pizza you’ve ever had, but the chef – Subaru – refuses to add toppings. It begs the question: Doesn't Subaru understand what a great base it's working with here? Where is the BRZ with a little pepperoni? A little spice?
The "tS" in BRZ tS stands for "Tuned by STI," which this technically was. Bigger brakes come from Brembo while the suspension gets front dampers from Hitachi and a slight retuning, which keeps it stiff but adds more compliance.
|2024 Subaru BRZ tS
|228 Horsepower / 184 Pound-Feet
|5.4 Seconds (est.)
On Sicilian back roads that could easily be mistaken for geographical features, the BRZ tS felt just a bit better than the normal coupe in terms of ride of handling. Not that the standard BRZ needed much improving, anyway. The tS is still rowdy, playful, controllable, and predictable, and the balance it strikes in almost every aspect of its being is exceptional – even if the tS model is barely any different from the base car dynamically.
But it's unfortunate that the experts over at Subaru Technica International didn’t touch the engine. The 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque are the same as every other version of the 2.4-liter flat-four, with a redline way up at 7,500 rpm (even though, to my ear, 6,000 rpm sounded like about where it should redline). But it’s unfortunate in the same way that getting only half of a free six-pack is unfortunate. It’s still free beer.
All of the other changes are strictly non-mechanical and mostly involve wrapping things in leather or microfiber. Sure, the blue-stitched steering wheel and the STI display with red metallic trim are a nice touch, but I would’ve rather had more nuts-and-bolts alterations. Many of the changes are best summed up by, to use Subaru’s own words, "simulated leather door trim panel armrests."
That’s sort of the enigma of this car. It has a lot of special trimmings – even the start/stop button says STI on it – but they all become invisible when you drive the tS, or any BRZ for that matter.
As soon as it started raining and the hairpins started coming, all of those little complaints about simulated suede and barely-there performance changes didn’t matter. Around tight corners the limited-slip diff would say, "Hey, you’re not having enough fun," and put the car into a slide. At first, I quickly corrected, but with every additional hairpin I let it out more and more. I never found a point where I was uncomfortable.
As soon as it started raining and the hairpins started coming, all of those little complaints about simulated suede and barely-there performance changes didn’t matter.
The naturally aspirated power in the BRZ quickly becomes a familiar friend that’s easy to modulate, traction or not. The shifter likewise has zero ambiguity which makes changing gears second nature. The flywheel feels heavy – like many other modern stick-shift cars the BRZ hangs revs to improve off-throttle emissions – but hard shifts don’t seem to upset the car in any case.
It’s worth noting that, while the BRZ is certainly not big, it’s not as small as you might think either. Its 101.4-inch wheelbase makes it more similar to a C7 Corvette than an ND Miata (106.7 inches for the Corvette versus just 90.9 inches for the MX-5). The longer wheelbase makes it easier to keep it on the edge once the grip limits have been thrown overboard.
That’s why it would’ve been nice to see additional mechanical changes. The six-speed shifter is great, but a shorter throw would’ve been even better. How about yank some baffles out of the exhaust while you’re at it, or provide a rear seat delete option (they’re pretty much useless anyway)? Something, anything! I’d even settle for anchovies.
This car has so much potential. As soon as I felt the steering load up mid-corner and that long band of power come alive in second gear, I was sold. It's just curious that Subaru engineers felt those same feelings and thought the best way to improve the BRZ would be a few suspension tweaks and blue thread.
This is a great sports car. It’s being sold at a time when many of our favorite two-doors will soon be discontinued and resurrected as electric SUVs, a fate genuinely worse than death. There will be plenty of time for unique upholstery combinations when the general public starts using "Camaro" and "crossover" in the same sentence. Now, thankfully, is not that time. But it is only right now.
At the moment, trims like the tS – while good – should be more special. This car ultimately works because the base BRZ is just so great, but if it wasn’t, buying it would be much harder to justify. Thankfully that’s not the case, though. For $36,465, the tS is priced right on the mark, and if the roads have corners where you live, you’ll love driving it.
Gallery: 2024 Subaru BRZ tS First Drive Review
2024 Subaru BRZ tS