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2022 Subaru BRZ vs. 2022 Volkswagen GTI: Everyday Reality

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On the surface, it may not make a lot of sense to compare the 2022 Subaru BRZ and 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI, for a few reasons. The BRZ is rear-wheel drive, the GTI front-drive. The Subie runs a 228-hp, 2.4-liter naturally aspirated horizontally opposed engine tht keeps the car's center of gravity low, the VW a more traditional (i.e., tall) 241-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 transversely mounted in the bay. The BRZ is a svelte two-door sports coupe, the GTI a five-door hatchback that's longer, wider, and weighs 260 pounds more—an almost 10 percent increase in mass.

How do these cars even relate to one another? Easy: entry-level performance. If you fancy yourself a driving enthusiast and are shopping for a new car that's more than a little fun but doesn't break the bank, sport compacts like the BRZ and GTI are where you start looking.

From a price perspective, we'd also include the BRZ's RWD Toyota cousin, the GR86, the FWD Honda Civic Si and Hyundai Veloster N, and the AWD Subaru WRX. The way our top-of-the-line Subaru and Volkswagen test cars are outfitted here, there's a notable difference in sticker prices—something to keep in mind as we compare these two canyon carvers.

Which Is Quicker?

Our 2022 BRZ was the $29,745 Limited trim, and Subaru also offers a Premium version for about $1,500 less. The 2022 GTI we tested is the Autobahn model, which runs $38,990 to start; it sits atop a lineup that also includes the $30,540 S and $35,290 SE models.

These cars are relatively evenly matched in quickness, with the Subaru having the slightest of advantages: The BRZ got to 60 mph from a standstill 0.2 second quicker than the GTI. In the quarter mile, the Subaru's advantage was 0.3 second, but both trapped at 99.8 mph. So, even down on power, the lighter BRZ outruns the GTI. But that's from a standing start. What if the cars are already at speed? In our 45-65 mph passing test, the GTI came out on top. The turbo GTI's 273 lb-ft of torque—the BRZ makes but 184 lb-ft—helps give it the edge on the go.

The 2022 BRZ's relative svelteness—it weighs 2,822 pounds versus the GTI's 3,082—and low center of gravity help it secure a 0.93 g average on the skidpad, but that's just 0.01 g better than the GTI. In our figure-eight test, which measures a car's ability to change directions, brake, and accelerate, the slight advantage flips to the GTI, as the Subaru's was off the VW's pace by 0.2 second and 0.01 g.

Drive Time

In addition to different drive wheels, power levels, and curb weights, each of these cars certainly has a different personality—the Subie is more playful, which the GTI likes to get down to business. The new BRZ's increased power output is a noticeable improvement from its predecessor, and it offers solid clutch feel and a shifter that's as positive and satisfying as ever, adding even more fun to spinning its flat-four to 7,000 rpm. Steering in the BRZ is light and precise, and the chassis is eager to rotate in a way that's reminiscent of another fun RWD two-door from the past, the Honda S2000. Partial credit for snappy turn-in goes to the BRZ's upgraded Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. There's a lot of eagerness in the car—it never wants to bite you, just deliver visceral handling thrills.

The new GTI is also more powerful than before, and its additional grunt and meaty torque curve are certainly welcome; its long-travel clutch pedal, less direct-feeling shifter, and longer throws less so. The hot hatch has crisp turn-in, and the suspension does a great job controlling body roll in corners, while its optional Pirelli P Zero rubber serves up plenty of grip. Both of our compact competitors feature brakes with firm, predictable pedal feel and consistent stopping performance. Unfortunately for the VW, it suffers from a somewhat choppy ride on broken road surfaces, most noticeably when the chassis is set to Sport mode. Meanwhile, BRZ downsides include wind and road noise permeating the cabin, excessive vibrations at idle, and a relatively cramped cockpit.

Interior Insights

Of course, the cramped cockpit is mostly due to the fact that the BRZ is a traditional sports car in terms of layout. So, if you're looking to drive this car every day and frequently have one other person (or more) with you, it's clearly not the choice. The front seats are snug, albeit with plenty of bolstering, and the two rear seats (not three like the GTI) are suitable only for small passengers, at best. But it does make the most of what it has, and the black Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and upholstery help make even mundane trips feel racier. The Subaru's new, customizable 7.0-inch digital dashboard equipped with lap timer adds a touch of modern performance tech, too.

And yet the Subaru's overall aesthetic lacks the sort of character the GTI has in spades. The VW's traditional plaid cloth seats are still a distinctive look, and they're extremely comfortable, too. A hexagonal theme is used on trim pieces throughout the interior, bringing a digital sort of feel to augment the plentiful screen real estate in our Autobahn model. Material quality is high and, naturally, there are more amenities and space in the GTI, even in the rear, where it serves up air conditioning vents, USB ports, and three pouches on the front seat backs.

But then there's the GTI's capacitive controls, which are just bad. The main menu shortcuts are located far away from the touchscreen, down on the dash, and the steering wheel controls are easily actuated during spirited driving. The same things happens with the temperature and volume controls, which are placed where you might rest your hand while operating the center display. It's all too fussy and lacks intuitiveness. On the plus side, the GTI's digital gauge cluster is a much larger 10.3-inch screen, and the graphics everywhere are at least attractive.

Despite its additional mass, the GTI gets better fuel economy, and the VW also benefits in terms of running costs from not being required to run premium fuel, as the BRZ asks. Those savings could be used toward the GTI's sticker price premium, which, in this comparison of top trims, is a not-insignificant nine grand.

So, Which One Is Best?

The BRZ is a real sports car with real sports car chops that satisfies our wannabe racer impulses. Plus, it's quite affordable. But it's also small and not very practical. While the exterior received a redesign for 2022, most of the interior looks like the first-gen car's, albeit with nicer materials and technology. And even when you're just sitting in the car at idle, it feels rawer and less refined than most vehicles.

For a lot of buyers, those will be selling points, and they wouldn't be wrong to choose the BRZ—it's a great car. It's a primal machine that at one point would have made sense to us, but who we are today values comfort and space, and the Subaru provides only limited quantities of each.

In the real world, where most people have to have just one car that needs to handle everything, the 2022 Golf GTI makes more sense. In this two-car head-to-head, we'd bite the bullet on the aggravating infotainment interface in exchange for room to spread out and haul more than one person or suitcase. The GTI is nearly as fun to drive as the BRZ, and if our test car's price seems steep, almost all of its goodness is baked into the lower trims. And if you wanted to, you could still take the GTI to track days with a few of your pals. It's the only one of these cars that has the flexibility to do both, and that's what puts it over the top.

2nd Place: 2022 Subaru BRZ

Pros

Playful handlingPositive clutch and shifter feelAffordable entry into the sports-car club

Cons

Tight on spaceRawness isn't for everyoneInterior is only so-so and doesn't elevate the experience

Verdict: Sings a one-note tune, but what a tune it is.

1st Place: 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Pros

Strong engine with plenty of torquePractical hatchback bodyHandsome, well-appointed interior

Cons

The touch-capacitive controls need to go—nowRide goes flinty in Sport modeTop trim pricing is steep for a compact

Verdict: only a smidge less fun than the BRZ but far more practical, it may be the perfect car when you can only have one car.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS2022 Subaru BRZ (Limited)  SPECIFICATIONS2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (Autobahn) SPECIFICATIONS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, RWDFront-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPEPort- and direct-injected DOHC 16-valve  flat-4, alum block/headsTurbo direct-injected DOHC 16-valve  I-4, iron block/alum head
DISPLACEMENT2,387 cc/145.7 cu in1,984 cc/121.1 cu in
COMPRESSION RATIO12.5:19.6:1
POWER (SAE NET)228 hp @ 7,000 rpm241 hp @ 6,500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)184 lb-ft @ 3,700 rpm273 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
REDLINE7,600 rpm6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER12.4 lb/hp12.8 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION6-speed manual6-speed manual
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO4.10:1/3.14:13.45:1/2.51:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll barStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO13.5:19.50-14.1:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK2.51.9
BRAKES, F; R11.6-in vented disc; 11.4-in vented disc13.4-in vented disc; 12.2-in vented disc
WHEELS7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum8.0 x 19-in cast aluminum
TIRES215/40R18 85Y Michelin Pilot Sport 4235/35R19 91Y Pirelli P Zero
DIMENSIONS
WHEELbase101.4 in103.6 in
TRACK, F/R59.8/61.0 in60.4/59.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT167.9 x 69.9 x 51.6 in168.8 x 70.4 x 57.6 in
TURNING CIRCLE35.4 ft35.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT (DIST F/R)2,822 lb (56/44%)3,082 lb (62/38%)
SEATING CAPACITY45
HEADROOM, F/R37.0/33.5 in35.8/38.1 in
LEGROOM, F/R41.5/29.9 in41.2/35.0 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R53.6/51.7 in55.9/53.9 in
CARGO VOLUME6.3 cu ft34.5/19.9 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-302.0 sec2.5 sec
0-403.23.9
0-504.55.0
0-605.96.1
0-707.78.1
0-809.79.7
0-9012.011.6
0-10014.414.7
PASSING, 45-65 MPH3.02.4
QUARTER MILE14.3 sec @ 99.8 mph14.6 sec @ 99.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH107 ft120 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.93 g (avg)0.92 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT25.7 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)25.5 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH2,600 rpm2,000 rpm
ConSUMER INFO
base PRICE$31,455$38,990
PRICE AS TESTED$31,455$38,990
AIRBAGS7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles6 yrs/72,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles6 yrs/72,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE3 yrs/36,000 miles3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY13.2 gal13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON20/27/22 mpg24/34/28 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded premiumUnleaded regular
ON SALENowWinter 2021

This article is republished from 2022 Subaru BRZ vs. 2022 Volkswagen GTI: Everyday Reality under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/2022-subaru-brz-vs-volkswagen-golf-gti-comparison-test-review/

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