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Toyota GR86 vs Subaru BRZ – How Are They Different?

Austin Parsons

Meet Austin

Austin holds a technical writing degree and has 5 years of experience working as a Technical Product Specialist at BMW. He is an avid car enthusiast who is constantly watching F1, consuming automotive content, racing on his simulator, and working on his Toyota’s and BMW’s. Austin’s technical writing skills, extensive automotive knowledge, and hands-on experience make him an excellent resource for our readers.

At this point in time, the first-generation Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 have become cult classics. They do what they are designed to do best; they’re both great sports cars. In many ways, the BRZ and GT86 have really encroached on a space that the Miata has been the king of for far too long. Some might argue that the GT86/BRZ executed the low power, snappy handling recipe better. They were built as track toys and were expected to be used as such. They also added a lot of confusion to less informed enthusiasts who either thought that the cars were entirely different models or thought that they were one and the same. Neither of which were truly the case, as they shared the same chassis and engine, but differed slightly in appearance and handling characteristics.

For the 2022 model year, both Subaru and Toyota have introduced their follow-up models, with the Subie still carrying the BRZ name and the Toyota changed by one letter to GR86. And, just like the first generation, the two are fraternal twins. Like their predecessors released in 2013, the BRZ and GR86 share almost identical DNA. Most of the differences between the two are superficial, aesthetic-related changes. However, there are some significant differences in handling characteristics that might influence someone to swing one way or the other. 


What Changed Between the Two Generations?

Before we delve into the differences between the current generation BRZ and GR86, let’s first talk about how the two have evolved since 2013. Over the 8-year span of the first generation, Subaru and Toyota have had time to listen to feedback about their previous models and expand upon the recipe. The improvements seem to be overwhelmingly positive, with many of the most significant gripes sorted.

Engine Differences

Unquestionably the most significant change between the first and second-generation BRZ and GR86 is the engine selection. It’s no secret that the first-generation BRZ and GT86 were criminally underpowered. Engine development and placement were handled by Subaru for the BRZ, GT86, and Scion FRS. Previously powered by the naturally aspirated 2.0L Subaru FA20, both vehicles could only muster a measly 197 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. Despite the modest level of power produced by the Subaru boxer engine, many enthusiasts were able to look past the sluggishness due to the handling characteristics that compensated for it. 

With the introduction of the second-generation BRZ and GR86, Subaru opted for a new 2.4L boxer engine for the duo. The new FA24D flat-four Subaru engine was selected to replace the 2.0L FA20. The FA24D that replaced the previous flat-four is a tuned and modified version of the one found in the Subaru Ascent. As a result, the 2022 BRZ and 2022 Toyota GR86 saw a bump of 28 horsepower and 33 lb-ft of torque, totaling 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While that doesn’t sound like too significant of a difference, percentage-wise, both cars received a 28 percent increase in power despite only gaining 50 lbs over the previous generation. 

In addition to the increased power, Subaru reworked the torque characteristics and power delivery. One of the primary gripes with the first generation BRZ and GT86 was the void of torque in the middle of the rev range. The new engine is much better suited for performance driving as a result. Most people that have driven both generations claim that the engine difference is night and day.

Chassis and Suspension Differences

Both Subaru and Toyota claim that the 2022 BRZ and 2022 GR86 feature a much more rigid chassis than the previous generation. The manufacturers claim that the new vehicles saw a 50 percent increase in torsional stiffness and a 60 percent increase in lateral bending rigidity. The result is a notable increase in cornering performance and more stable and controllable performance with a bit more forgiveness in demanding settings.

The first and second-generation cars both feature a similar suspension setup. The suspension arrangement remains MacPherson struts in the front and a double-wishbone setup in the rear. The setup on the previous generation was one of the most celebrated parts of the car, as superior handling had to make up for the lack of power. The suspension on the 2022 BRZ and GR86 had to compensate for a bit more weight and a lot more power, resulting in slightly stiffer spring rates and adjusted suspension tuning. 

Both new models are around a half-an-inch lower than the previous generation. The 2022 BRZ and 2022 GR86 feature marginally different suspension setups to give each car an individual feel, but we’ll go deeper into that in the sections to follow. 

Design and Other Differences

At first glance, the first and second-generation BRZ and GR86 look like older and more successful cousins of their earlier selves. Toyota certainly brought the popular design of the 2013 BRZ/GT86 into the 2020s with sleeker lines and updated frontal facia. The new models are around an inch longer than the previous generation, which doesn’t affect anything much. Like the appearance differences between the original Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86, the new models are unique in their design. Kind of. We’ll save this for the following section as well. 

In addition, the interior of the new generation is more advanced, featuring fully digital gauges in favor of the analog/digital hybrid of the generation prior. The infotainment screen increased from an underwhelming 7.0 inches to a slightly less underwhelming 8.0-inch touchscreen. 

Is It Worth Upgrading to the New BRZ/GR86?

Naturally, with the differences mentioned above, the question will arise for many drivers who own the previous generation BRZ/GT86/FRS: is it worth upgrading to the new generation? I suppose that truly depends on what you are looking to get out of the car.

From a purely practical/daily-driven sense, it’s a toss-up. On one hand, the new generation certainly does provide a better fit and finish than the previous generation. Both the 2022 BRZ and 2022 GR86 have a more polished interior design with updated technology. Despite the slightly longer wheelbase of the newest generation, the rear seats are still unusable for their intended purpose. The stiffer chassis and sturdier suspension might make the new generation slightly rougher on the road, but not to a deal-breaking degree. 

While the upgrade might not be a night and day difference from a daily driven perspective, track day and performance driving is where you’ll see the biggest difference. It’s no secret that the first generation BRZ and GT86 built a cult-like following for their track day abilities. But previously, enthusiasts had to build them to be good on the track. There is certainly a stronger focus on performance with the newest generation, making it an even better track day toy. That is especially apparent with the new 2.4L FA24D engine, giving the new models a bit more grunt. 

Lastly, there’s styling. While neither model has become an entirely different car across generations, they both certainly got some botox. The look of the new cars is certainly a nice refresh, although a bit predictable. But we’ll leave that one up to you.

Toyota GR86 vs Subaru BRZ – Are They Actually Any Different?

As we covered before, the first-generation BRZ and GT86 were essentially fraternal twins. In terms of their overall chassis design, powertrain, interior, and tire setup, the two were essentially identical. While the two companies claimed that small tweaks were made to each car’s suspension and steering characteristics, it would be almost impossible to distinguish between the two if you were blindfolded. 

That brings us to the second generation. On paper and in person, it really seems to be a similar situation. While the overall appearance of the 2023 GR86 and 2022 BRZ differ in a few key ways, the guts seem very similar, if not the same. In fact, the two differ in a few significant ways which highlights the differences between the Toyota and the Subaru. 

Toyota GR86 vs Subaru BRZ Engine Specs

Engine Subaru FA24D / Toyota 4U-GSE
Configuration Boxer Flat-4 Cylinder
Displacement 2.4L (2,387 cc)
Aspiration Naturally Aspirated
Valvetrain DOHC 4 Valves Per Cylinder
Block/Head Aluminum/Aluminum
Bore x Stroke 94 mm × 86 mm (3.701 in × 3.386 in)
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Weight Long Block ≈ 480 lbs
Horsepower 228/234 hp @ 7,000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft) 184 lb-ft @ 3,700 RPM

2022 GR86 vs 2022 BRZ Engine Breakdown

When it comes to the engine performance of the Toyota GR86 vs Subaru BRZ, the two are nearly identical. Of course, both the 2022 GR86 and 2022 BRZ received the Subaru FA24D boxer engine, producing 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque in both models. Despite earlier claims that the 2022 BRZ featured a higher 13.5:1 compression ratio from the 2.5L FA24D, both the GR86 and Subaru BRZ share identical 12.5:1 compression in production trim. 

The FA24D is a variant of the FA24F boxer found in the Subaru Ascent. The two engines share the same stroke, bore, and combined port/direct injection system. However, the 2.4L FA24D engine does not feature the turbocharger used on the FA24F. Despite constant outcry from the BRZ/GT86 enthusiast community, neither Toyota nor Subaru are currently offering a turbocharged version of their respective model. While the FA24D is essentially factory-equipped to take on a turbocharger, both Toyota and Subaru decided against forced induction as it would have raised costs and raised the center of gravity. 

Both the GR86 and BRZ have been tuned to eliminate the severe torque gap that plagued the previous FA20/4U-GSE-equipped cars. In the previous generation, many drivers found it difficult to maintain momentum through the curves due to the dramatic power dropoff in the middle of the rev range. That issue has been entirely resolved with the new generation. Each manufacturer claims to have tuned the FA24 in their own unique way to differentiate the two although most claim that they still feel almost identical. 

Toyota GR86 vs Subaru BRZ Suspension and Handling

Perhaps the most significant differences between the GR86 vs BRZ can be found in their suspension. Upon immediate inspection, the two have identical setups, which they also share with the earlier first-generation versions of themselves. Both the 2022 BRZ and 2022 GR86 feature MacPherson struts in the rear and a double wishbone setup in the back. 

The most notable changes can be seen in the spring rates and sway bar measurements between the two. In comparison to the BRZ, the 2022 GR86 utilizes a 7 percent softer front spring rate and an 11 percent stiffer spring rate in the rear. As a result, the BRZ has a pointier front end that is easier to point in the direction that you want to go. 

To add to that increased front-end precision, the BRZ also uses slightly thicker front sway bars. In contrast, the GR86 uses a thicker rear sway bar, adding some stability and predictability to the rear end. There is a difference in the rear sway bar mounting strategy for the two as well, with Subaru mounting the rear sway bar directly to the unibody while Toyota chose to mount it to the subframe. Other differences include a discrepancy in front knuckles, with the BRZ opting for a lighter aluminum compound in contrast to the steel ones found on the GR86. 

As a general consensus, the difference in suspension setups between the two models does play a noticeable role in how both the GR86 and BRZ handle. Overall, the Subaru BRZ is touted as the more precise of the two options with good turn-in ability. With that being said, the Toyota GR86 is said to sustain speed through the corners better due to its stiffer rear end.

2022 GR86 vs 2022 BRZ Aesthetic Differences

Beyond all of the differences hidden under the surfaces of the two models, the most immediate difference between the two is their appearance. At first glance, the front facia of the GR86 is certainly more aggressive and menacing than the BRZ. The GR86 has a much more sizable front grille than the BRZ, although it doesn’t provide any more function. Compared to the gaping frown of the GR86, the 2022 BRZ has a much friendlier aura. The grille mesh is also different between the two, with the GR86 using a honeycomb pattern compared to the side-slatted design. The smaller grille design of the BRZ makes it appear lower and sleeker without drawing too much attention to itself.

As with the previous generation BRZ and GT86, the rear end of both of the new generation cars are identical. Apparently developing a new rear end for each would have been too costly, too difficult, or both. While the badges on the previous generation were slightly rearranged between the models, both the new Subaru and Toyota retain the same badge positioning. As a result of nearly identical styling, the side profile of both is also the same. From a distance, the front end is the only real way to tell them apart.

It’s deja vu in the interior of the two as well. All of the interior dials, screens, gauges, and buttons are identical and in the same location. The only difference can be found in the trim. They both feature the same, basically unusable, rear seats -for humans anyway. With that being said, there’s enough space in the back of both cars to be an acceptable daily driver. Grocery runs and weekend trips seem to suit both the BRZ and GR86 the best in terms of utility. 

2022 Toyota GR86 vs 2022 Subaru BRZ Summary

With the introduction of the new Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ, the GR86 vs BRZ comparison was bound to surface. While not a ton has changed over the generational divide, what did change is significant. Perhaps most important is the switch from the previous 2.0L FA20/4U-GSE to the more powerful Subaru 2.4L FA24D. 

The nearly 30 horsepower increase in power combined with better torque characteristics that resolve many of the previous issues that plagued the previous generation truly transform the driving experience. The increased chassis stiffness and refined suspension arrangement make the 2022 GR86 and 2022 BRZ more capable sports cars all around.

Beyond the generational differences, the new GR86 and BRZ have a similar relationship as they did previously. They share almost entirely the same DNA with a few exceptions that can largely be attributed to Subaru spearheading the engineering side of the collaboration. As a result, the 2022 BRZ has slightly more sport-oriented handling characteristics. Some say that the BRZ is more of a handful, vehicle others say the opposite. That goes to show that they truly aren’t that different. 

Outside of the small performance tweaks and subtle differences, the only other aspect to really consider is styling. That one is entirely subjective and really only pertains to the front bumper design as everything else is the same. I suppose that if you find that you like the other car’s bumper later on down the line you could just swap one on. 

If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more BRZ/GT86 content, check out our 5 Best BRZ/GT86 Performance Modifications Guide. As always, safe driving!

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