Those craving improved straight-line performance are set to be disappointed, because Subaru, like Toyota, has not seen fit to add more power, so the 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine still produces 197bhp and 151lb ft. However, the strength of the engine block has been increased, the rocker arms have been lightened and friction has been reduced on the camshaft. All of these, Subaru claims, contribute to slightly lower emissions.
What hasn’t changed, however, is that the engine still needs to be revved hard to get the most from it. With peak torque arriving at a heady 6400rpm, quick progress demands fast gearchanges, clever footwork and high corner speed. Unfortunately the torque dip at 4100rpm still remains, but we found that when pushing on, you rarely find yourself dropping much below 5000rpm.
However, it’s in the corners where the BRZ really shines. For 2017 the front springs have been stiffened and the rears have been softened off, while the opposite has been done to the anti-roll bars. This makes the front end even pointier, so in slippery winter conditions you might expect this to make the car feel somewhat edgy, especially on its low-grip Michelin Primacy tyres. But combined with the remapped steering, which has been tuned to build weight more smoothly off-centre, the BRZ feels remarkably stable and confidence-inspiring at speed.
By tweaking the dampers and stiffening the suspension, the revised BRZ also feels noticeably more progressive up to, and over, the limit. Turn in to a quick corner and the car will push on initially, but trail the brakes or lift mid-corner and that push quickly transfers into easily controllable oversteer. The car’s new Track mode will also allow you to do all of this without risking getting too out of shape, and, rather impressively, if you do overstep the mark, the software now brings you back into line in a controlled manner, unlike the previous model's distinctly binary system.
The dampers have also been fettled to transmit fewer vibrations into the cabin than before, but without testing the cars back to back, it’s hard to decipher if there has been a noticeable improvement. What we can say, however, is that while the ride is firm, it’s not too harsh, and at higher speeds the BRZ feels impressively stable, thanks in part to a relatively long 2570mm wheelbase.
Where the Subaru does let the side down, however, is in the interior. Despite the fact that most of the cheap-feeling plastics have been replaced with leather and Alcantara, the overall aesthetic is still distinctly 1990s. And for all that the BRZ has been calling out for a standard-fit sat-nav, the system fitted to this 2017 model feels simply archaic alongside the units found in the Audi TT and significantly cheaper Mazda MX-5. Ultimately, for a car approaching £27,500 (the sat-nav is a £1250 option), it’s hard to not to feel somewhat short-changed.