Inflation is a fact of life, and cars are at the heart of that phenomenon. Besides the obvious price increase, we’re looking at performance and capabilities as well. Remember when 228 horsepower was a big deal, stuffing V-8 Mustangs and Porsche 911s? Now 600 horsepower almost seems normal, and with it comes a spiral of more: more weight, more money, more digital nannies to keep everything on the road. That’s why the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 are so refreshing. These cars are built not for bragging rights but to entertain humans behind the wheel. They accept the concept of enough, drawing attention to the space that is not filled with extra pounds and scary monthly payments. They are really great.
And, we might add, it’s not like we’re talking about slow cars that win us over with great style or handling (although they do, too). The Subaru-based 2.4-liter flat-four is a delight, making 228 horsepower at 7000 rpm but still offering 184 pound-feet of torque at 3700 rpm. Weighing in at just 2843 pounds in the Subaru BRZ Limited, that’s enough oomph to deliver a 5.4-second run to 60 mph and a 13.9-second quarter-mile at 101 mph. With rear-wheel drive, a standard six-speed manual transmission, and a limited-slip differential, the BRZ and GR86 have all the right ingredients for a fun time. And it comes with an attractive direct shifter and a chassis you can steer with the throttle and brakes and steering wheel. They are basically the Porsche Cayman S performance model circa 2007 but for about half the price and with a small but serviceable rear seat.
They look the part too. The GR86, with its Toyota badge, is sometimes mistaken for a Supra, especially when it’s painted bright Neptune blue. The Toyota and Subaru twins eschew big wings and splashy graphics for a tightly packed rear-wheel drive aesthetic. They look fast but respectable, which can be a tricky trick to pull off, especially for a small sports car.
Yes, the interior is a bit basic, with clear eight-bit graphics for the instrument cluster and central touchscreen. And of course, we daydream about the antics that might ensue with the arrival of a turbocharger and, say, 300 horsepower.
But a fancier interior might push up the base price, which stubbornly remains under $30,000. And more power will mean stronger steering, bigger wheels and tires, and extra weight. All of that takes away from why this car is so great—it’s light, sharp, unrefined and cheap. May they remain so. We don’t need anything else.
Back to 10Best
2023 Subaru BRZ/2023 Toyota GR86
228-hp 2.4-liter flat-4; 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
C/D Test result
60 mph: 5.4–6.3 seconds
1/4-Mile: 13.9–14.8 seconds
Top Speed (claimed mfr): 134–140 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152–167 ft
Road Grip, 300 ft Skid Pad: 0.89–0.99 g
EPA Fuel Economy/City/Hwy: 22–25/20–21/27–31 mpg
This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find similar content in other formats, or you may be able to find more information, on their website.