Expert Reviews

2024 Subaru BRZ tS and WRX RS First Drive Review

The current Subaru WRX has become a more refined machine that’s far easier to live with than the one that came before it, not to mention the raucous WRX STI version that's no more.

Take it from me: I drove one for a few years, and the stiff clutch, piggish thirst for fuel, and brutal ride became a bit much when commuting. That this new WRX effectively replaces both cars could have left it skewing towards those same hardcore traits, and while steering feels almost as dialled in as the old STI’s, it's a much more civilized experience overall.

After a few years on the market, the 2024 Subaru WRX RS arrives alongside a similarly tuned 2024 Subaru BRZ tS – two cars intent on meeting demands for more track-focused variants of this brand's most fun-to-drive models.


The WRX RS gets all the essentials an enthusiast might want from the factory, packaged up in a single trim. Recaro seats that can give a better bear-hug than AutoTrader’s Road Test Editor, Dan Ilika, that aren't just incredibly comfortable – the seats, not Dan’s hugs – but they do a great job of keeping a driver snugly in place during high-G cornering. [I resent that.––Ed.] In exchange, RS buyers forego the premium audio system, sunroof, and built-in navigation from the almost identically priced Sport-tech trim.

The airy 19-inch wheels exclusive to the RS are wrapped with sticky 245/35 R19 Bridgestone Potenza S007 rubber to give more grip, which helps the revised front and rear suspension stay pinned to the pavement, with stiffer dampers tightening up some of the WRX’s roly-poly nature. There’s a retuned rack to improve steering feel, too.

It’s the addition of a high-performance Brembo braking system – with serious six-piston front callipers (and dual-piston ones in the back) clamping bigger pads on cross-drilled rotors – that’s sure to be the biggest single improvement for track driving.

Subaru Canada invited us to lap the new WRX RS and BRZ tS at Shannonville Motorsport Park a few hours east of Toronto. It’s here that the RS’s upgraded tires and brakes really worked their magic, and even after two days of near relentless track use, both still performed like new. The turbocharged 2.4L horizontally-opposed engine spools up 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in the RS, just as it does in every other WRX. And, of course, the company’s famed all-wheel-drive system helps manage traction even in conditions that would have other performance cars calling for mercy.

Lest you think all this track-worthy gear ruins the WRX’s on-road comfort, and our drive along some Eastern Ontario backroads proved it’s still a great daily driver that’s not afraid to play on the gravel. The suspension stiffening is minimal and the RS still offers plenty of travel, easily swallowing up the impacts from potholes and poorly-maintained pavement, even with those big 19-inch wheels in play.

The BRZ tS 

Driving the two cars back to back on the track and the road was eye-opening. As easily as the WRX can be flung around the backroads and track with almost reckless abandon, it feels like a mallet compared to the scalpel that is the 2024 BRZ tS.

The little coupe, with its low-slung seating position, squat stance, and low centre of gravity, offers amazing stability and balance, but the sharpness of the steering is the real treat. After some familiarization laps, it became easy and oh-so rewarding to make the tS dance its way around the track, positioning the car as much with the throttle as gentle inputs of the steering wheel. The all-wheel-drive RS is happy to save your bacon when driven brutally, but the BRZ feels like an instrument of sublime agility on the track.

The fastest drivers at this event were posting unofficial BRZ tS lap times within two seconds of the WRX RS, despite the little coupe’s considerable power and torque deficit. Like the RS, the tS gets no modifications to its engine. This means the naturally-aspirated 2.4L boxer engine still freely revs out past its 7,000-rpm peak of 228 hp. The six-speed manual is the only transmission offered in both of these trims, and while a bit notchy in each, the BRZ’s short throws are more satisfying and make for a perfect match with its rev-happy engine.

The tS also benefits from a set of upgraded Brembo brakes. Here the four-piston front two-piston rear grabbers clamp down on larger rotors, and even after two days of lapping both cars’ brakes felt strong and smooth. While the WRX RS gets upgraded wheels and stickier tires, the BRZ tS sticks with the same 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber from the rest of the lineup.

The tS gets improved suspension with slightly stiffer dampers in the rear and front dampers that work in two frequency ranges thanks to oil chambers that manage low-frequency vibrations such as body roll and pitch and bypass channels that help mitigate high-frequency vibrations such as impacts from rough roads. The result is a balanced, flat-cornering machine that doesn’t beat up its occupants with an ultra-stiff ride.

Small Visual Changes, and a Big Change to Tech 

Both the BRZ tS and WRX RS see subtle visual changes. The BRZ gets tS badging front and rear, black door mirrors and roof antenna, and, of course, those gold Brembos. Inside, there’s a red STI starter button, and the stitching and seat accents that are red in other BRZs are blue in the tS. Otherwise, the tS is equipped the same as the Sport-tech trim.



The WRX RS’s exterior changes are even more subtle. There’s no RS badging anywhere inside or out, and aside from the bigger wheels, the only obvious giveaway is if a buyer specs the new Sapphire Blue Pearl paint colour that’s limited to only the RS (and the BRZ tS).

The final noteworthy change for 2024 that applies not only to the RS and tS cars, but all WRX and BRZ models, is the addition of Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver aids for manual-transmission cars. This means every Subaru model now has pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning, among other active safety functions that vary by model.

Final Thoughts 

The WRX has become the best-selling sports car in Canada, surpassing even the Ford Mustang, which wore the crown for years. It’s easy to see why, with how successfully the car manages daily errands yet offers serious fun and, now with the RS, increased performance capabilities, too.

The BRZ doesn’t offer the same practicality as its bigger sibling, but it remains not only one of the last remaining sports coupes to deliver such a pure, traditional driving experience, but a tremendous value, too.

In fact, both the BRZ tS at $1,400 more than the Sport-tech trim, and the WRXRS at $100 less than a WRX Sport-tech, represent serious bargains in their respective segments.

Subaru has listened to customer cries for sharper and more track-focused variants of the WRX and BRZ and delivered machines that are incrementally-but-appreciably better than the great machines on which they're based. For driving enthusiasts wanting cars that are equally adept at daily commuting and weekend track sessions, these two are worth celebrating.

2024 Subaru BRZ Canadian Pricing

  • BRZ: $31,895
  • Sport-tech: $34,895
  • tS: $36,295 
  • Sport-tech Automatic: $36,695 

2024 Subaru WRX Canadian Pricing

  • WRX: $33,695
  • Sport: $38,195
  • Sport (SPT): $40,095
  • RS: $41,895
  • Sport-tech: $41,995
  • GT (SPT): $44,895