Subaru's smallest car -- and arguably its sportiest -- moves into 2017 essentially unchanged, but with a few notable updates its maker says were conceived to appeal to the "pure driving enthusiast" the car is aimed at.
There's a subtle styling update that brings changes you're unlikely to notice without a 2016 model to compare it to and there's a new steering wheel with better audio controls.
Mechanically, the car's springs and shock absorbers are new, along with a larger rear stabilizer bar, changes intended to improve the BRZ's handling and ride quality. And the combination of lower friction in the engine's internals, along with new intake and exhaust manifolds, let the 2.0L boxer four-cylinder make a bit more power: those figures are now 205 hp and 156 lb-ft, up from 200 and 151, respectively. Also, cars with the six-speed manual transmission get lower differential gearing for quicker acceleration.
The BRZ (and its mechanical Toyota twin, the 86) is the closest thing there is to a natural competitor for the Mazda MX-5, if you ignore the fact the Mazda is a roadster and the Subaru only offered as a coupe.
Like the MX-5, the BRZ combines RWD in an agile chassis with a willing engine that makes the car quick, but is incapable of overpowering the suspension and tires. The result is that rare breed of sports car you can drive flat out on public roads while still keeping things legal.
The Mini Cooper S is another sensible car to cross-shop, though some would argue its FWD layout is less pure from a performance perspective. Ditto the Ford Fiesta ST, and if you're willing to stretch the definition of a sporty car, Nissan's Juke is a compelling alternative, too.
BRZ is offered in two trims -- base and Sport-tech -- both of which can be had with either a six-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. Note that the BRZ is the only Subaru without AWD.
Both trims comes with niceties like an amplified eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, navigation with 6.1-inch touchscreen, air conditioning, tilt-and-telescopic steering, power windows, heated side mirrors and locks with keyless entry, backup camera, 17-inch wheels and automatic LED headlights.
Sport-tech models come with automatic climate control, passive keyless entry with push-button start, LED fog lights and a multi-function trip computer.
Prices start at $27,995 for the base model, and $29,995 for the Sport-tech trim and the automatic transmission adds $1,200 to MSRP for both.