Caraganza First Drive Review 2024 Subaru BRZ: A breath of fresh air

Just a few weeks ago I was driving along Big Tujunga Canyon Road eventually ending up on the Angeles Crest highway in Southern California. The highway is a little-known two-lane road stretching some 60 odd miles through the San Gabriel Mountains. It reaches elevations above 7000 feet with the highest nearing 8000 feet.

The trip started that morning where I was staying in Arcadia just west of Pasadena, ironically along Route 66, a far more famous road. It was a spur of the moment thing that was inspired when I looked at the mountains and muttered, “I want to go there.” Since I had a rare day off covering racing, off I went.

It was a glorious discovery and a fantastic short road trip. The only damper on the entire outing was that I was forced to make the trip in a Nissan Rogue, a rental. I wished that I could have made that trip in just about anything else besides a midsize SUV that looked as though it had been lived in by a destitute family.

Something like the Subaru BRZ I got for a week when I came home.

The last Subaru I spent a week with was a 2024 Impreza a few months ago. I’ve always been a fan of all things Subaru, but I was underwhelmed by that Impreza. The Impreza once had a WRX version, a STI (Subaru’s performance division) tuned hi-performance model that was the envy of 20 somethings all over the world. But the RS I had for the week was nothing more than a run of the mill hatchback with a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder that never could seem to keep up. Subaru brought the RS back from the late 1990s, but to me it appeared Subaru had lost its soul.

Well, I can now say I’ve found it.

The BRZ is an affordable sports car that stands out from the rugged, and in some cases, soulless models in the rest of the lineup. It’s offered in two trims, Premium and Limited. For 2024 they brought back the tS, a model last seen in 2018. The tS gets the STI suspension tuning treatment and upgraded Brembo brakes and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Like the Limited trims, there are heated front seats, leather and suede upholstery, adaptive headlights, a blind spot warning system, Subaru’s EyeSight package which has adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency breaking and a 8-speaker sound system.

In a bit of irony, Subaru took this photo in the mountains overlooking Los Angeles. Cruse you Subaru, curse you.

Perhaps most importantly the Limited (and tS) have a manual transmission, standard. In an automotive world increasingly filled with hybrids, electrics, and SUVs that all seem to look alike, the BRZ is a bit like giving your taste buds a sip of a fine single malt whiskey after years of sipping water. This, my friends, is a car with personality, with flair, and yes, a manual transmission that’ll make you want to compose a poem in its honor.

On the outside, the BRZ looks meaner than a badger with a toothache. It’s like Subaru took a regular BRZ and sent it to the gym, and now it’s flexing its muscles on the road. It’s got lines that could cut glass and a stance that says, “I’m here to carve corners and chew bubblegum – and I’m all out of bubblegum.” The engineers at Subaru seem to have dialed up the aggression, and the tS variant takes it to a whole new level.

The interior is unremarkable, the backseats useless save for carrying babies or two bags of groceries, but you won’t care. That’s because once you wrap your hands around that leather-wrapped steering wheel and hit the road you’re only looking outward.  And the road noise that creeps in, something that might be excessive to some, is instead a symphony to gearheads everywhere. And that manual, well it’s a six-speed delight. The throws are short and snappy, and the clutch engages with precision. The gear changes are like flipping pages in a good book – satisfying, addictive, and you just can’t get enough. It makes you want to drive the long way home, even if it means you’re late for dinner.

On the road the BRZ tS is like a caffeinated greyhound. It’s agile, responsive, and corners like it’s on rails. It darts through corners with the finesse of a cat chasing a laser pointer, and the chassis is so well-balanced that it’s like the car has its own set of wings and is dialed in just right – sporty enough to feel connected to the road, but not so stiff that you’ll need a chiropractor after a long drive. Up front the boxer engine with its 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque growls and pops accentuating the symphony by adding bass drums to the strings.

Sure, the BRZ tS doesn’t have the straight-line speed of a supercar, but it’s not meant to. It’s about the driving experience, the connection between driver and machine, and in that department, the BRZ tS excels.

And with an MSRP of $36,465, the BRZ tS is in reach of most of us. That my friends is perhaps the best thing about it.

In a world where automatic transmissions and paddle shifters seem to dominate, the manual transmission in the BRZ tS is a breath of fresh air, a reminder of the joy of rowing through the gears and feeling the car dance beneath you. It’s a manual masterpiece in a world that’s becoming increasingly automatic, and boring.

Now if I could just figure out a way to get it from Florida to the Angeles Crest highway my world would be complete.


The 2024 Subaru BRZ tS
MSRP: $ 34,345
MSRP (as tested): $36,465
Engine: 2.4 liter 4-cylinder 228 horsepower @ 7000 rpm, 184 lb.-ft. torque @ 3700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 20 city, 27 highway, 22 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 25 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 2846 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase: 101.4
Width, without mirrors: 69.9
Height: 51.6
Minimum Ground Clearance: 5.1

Interior Dimensions
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 4
Total Passenger Volume 77.2 cubic feet
Front Head Room 37 inches
Front Leg Room: 41.5 inches
Front Shoulder Room: 53.6 inches
Front Hip Room: 52.4 inches
Second Row Head Room: 33.5 inches
Second Row Leg Room: 29.9 inches
Second Row Shoulder Room: 51.7 inches
Second Row Hip Room: 45.2 inches
Trunk Space: 6.3 cubic feet

Basic: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
Rust: 5 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.

Greg Engle