Lap Time: 3:12.4
Class: LL1 | Base: $31,455 | As Tested: $31,455
Power and Weight: 228 hp • 2842 lb • 12.5 lb/hp
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4, 215/40R-18 85Y
The playful character that makes the BRZ such fun to drive on the street—its quick-witted responses and willingness to slide its tail—is every bit as present at VIR. It's a heart-racing blast that slip-slides through corners, even if it posts the slowest lap time of the year.
Compared with the 2018 BRZ tS at Lightning Lap 12, this second-gen Limited model has a significantly stiffer suspension and structure and a new 2.4-liter flat-four with 23 more horsepower and 28 more pound-feet of torque. It runs on the same 215/40R-18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. But it lacks the tS's firm Sachs dampers, big rear wing, and stout Brembo brakes. The new model's brakes are marginal for track use, but with high-temp DOT 4 brake fluid added by Subaru, the BRZ will survive two consecutive laps without any pedal-to-the-floor issues.
Given the new BRZ's mechanical pluses and minuses, we expected it to lap faster than the tS, and it did, by 1.6 seconds. The new car takes half-second bites out of the tS in Sectors 1, 2, and 5, while they remain virtually equal through Sectors 3 and 4. The difference in horsepower is obvious on the front straight, where the Limited's 127.4-mph peak speed is 8.7 mph higher than the tS's.
Like its predecessor, the new model is deeply fun to balance on the knife edge of its neutral chassis. A quick lap requires you to keep oversteer at bay, sliding just enough—but not too much—to help rotate the car. That requires judicious use of the throttle and quick hands to catch the rear the moment it starts to act. Get it right in the sweeping NASCAR bend and the left-right-left-right cutbacks of the Infield, and you'll feel a jolt of electricity run through you. Lap times, schmap times.