2024 Subaru BRZ/Toyota GR86: Car and Driver 10Best

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From the January 2024 issue of Car and Driver.

As the SUV-ification of the auto market continues unabated and mega-horsepower EVs quickly become the new hotness in the high-performance space, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 look more and more like outliers. Small, light, naturally aspirated, and manually shifted, this delightfully analog duo flies in the face of many current trends, and they’re all the better for it.

Not merely a tonic to prevailing winds, these sports cars are exciting in their own right. During our 10Best testing, the GR86 was often just as quick through the challenging sections as more powerful and more expensive contenders—some vastly so. With their lithe handling, faithful steering, predictable behavior, and plentiful feedback, the GR86 and BRZ encourage you to push harder.

The Subaru-sourced 2.4-liter flat-four loves to be wrung out, delivering its peak torque at 3700 rpm and its power peak at 7000 revs. With 228 horsepower, the engine sends this little coupe to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds when paired with the stick shift, nearly a full-second improvement over the smaller engine in the first generation. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a Sport mode is available, but the manual is the way to go. Friendly clutch takeup and smooth shift action make this an ideal manual for first-timers or those often mired in stop-and-go slog. Subaru and Toyota show row-your-own buyers some additional love this year by finally making adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning available with the six-speed manual.

New this year, both models offer optional upgraded shock absorbers. Those variants also come with Brembo brakes, and drivers who track their cars will welcome the beefier stoppers.

Both were structurally stiffened as part of their 2022 redo, and that solid base allowed each brand’s chassis engineers to do their best work. The suspension tuning between the two is slightly different, as we noted when driving them back to back in a 2022 comparison test. We found the BRZ a little more compliant, and the GR86 easier to coax into oversteer. New this year, both models offer optional upgraded shock absorbers: Sachs dampers as part of the GR86’s Trueno Edition and Performance package or Hitachi dampers on the BRZ tS. Those variants also come with Brembo brakes, and drivers who track their cars will welcome the beefier stoppers.

Those who dismiss the interiors as cheap and basic probably haven’t been in the latest versions, which are much improved. We’ll grant that the rear seats are strictly theoretical, but so what? Fold them down, and a spare set of tires fits back there. If you’re looking to cart three friends around, you have literally hundreds of models to choose from. If, instead, you’re looking for maximum driving fun for a very attainable price, the choices have dwindled to a precious few. Fortunately, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 are still among them.

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2024 Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman
300-hp turbo 2.0-liter flat-4, 350-hp turbo 2.5-liter flat-4, 394-hp 4.0-liter flat-6; 6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Base: $69,950–$98,950

C/D Test Results
60 mph: 3.4–4.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.6–13.0 sec
Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 170–169 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 153–182 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.01–1.06 g
EPA Comb/City/Hwy: 19–24/17–21/24–27 mpg

Headshot of Joe Lorio

Deputy Editor, Reviews and Features

Joe Lorio has been obsessed with cars since his Matchbox days, and he got his first subscription to Car and Driver at age 11. Joe started his career at Automobile Magazine under David E. Davis Jr., and his work has also appeared on websites including Amazon Autos, Autoblog, AutoTrader, Hagerty, Hemmings, KBB, and TrueCar.

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