the first-generation subaru brz and toyota 86/scion fr-s were fun cars that emphasized the subjective driving experience over cold performance numbers. hey, if you can slide around in a rear-wheel-drive coupe with a manual transmission, who cares if you're doing it at 10 mph, right? it's theater of the mind, people. but now that we've tested the new 2022 subaru brz and toyota gr86, we've affirmed that you can have it both ways—lightweight, naturally aspirated, rear-drive purism can coexist with competitive acceleration. and grip. the toyobaru twins are still minimalist and affordable, but now they deliver a 5.4-second zero-to-60 mph run and a 13.9-second quarter-mile at 101 mph.
those numbers are in arrears of the toyota supra 2.0, but not by that much (4.7 seconds to 60 mph, quarter-mile in 13.3 seconds at 104 mph). given the price disparity—the supra's base price is about $15,000 higher—we'd say it's a fair trade to give up 3 mph in quarter-mile trap speed in return for a 7500-rpm redline, a six-speed manual, and a pair of back seats. and unlike, say, a wrx, the brz/gr86 doesn't require a brutal clutch drop to get off the line. bring revs to about 4500, slip the clutch a bit, and you're off with just enough wheelspin to keep the 228-hp 2.4-liter flat-four from bogging. go too wild, though, and there's now enough power to waste time smoking the tires. we didn't hit top speed, but we'd estimate that 140 mph is possible on a suitably long expanse of autobahn or dry lake bed.
while its acceleration puts the brz/gr86 midway between the supra 2.0 and the mazda mx-5 miata club, its cornering and braking numbers are right in line with the supra's. with its new (and optional) michelin pilot sport 4 tires—still a relatively skinny 215/40r-18 all around—the brz hung on the skidpad with 0.99 g of grip. the gr86 has a slightly different suspension tune, with a stiffer rear anti-roll bar that makes it a bit more neutral while posting an all but identical 0.98-g skidpad result. both numbers are barely behind the supra's 1.02 g's, attained with much wider bmw-spec michelin pilot super sport tires—255/40zr-18 front, 275/40zr-18 rear. the supra needs more rubber, given that it weighs 341 pounds more than the fr86, which clocked in at a trim 2838 pounds. the brz was five pounds heavier.
that lack of mass improves performance in a lot of ways, including braking. the brz's 152-foot stop from 70 mph nearly matches the supra's 152-foot result, with the gr86 requiring 156 feet. all those numbers were attained with no fade. feel free to brake deep, brz and gr86'ers.
we're sure toyota would tell you that the supra 2.0 and the gr86 appeal to different audiences, but given the newly narrowed performance delta, we wonder who's going to spend all that extra money to go a little quicker down the straights while a brz or gr86 hangs right in there on the corners and braking zones. subaru and toyota's rear-drive coupe always looked like a car that could do zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. now it actually can.