The Subaru BRZ is a tempting option for anyone interested in inexpensive front-engined, rear-wheel drive grip monsters. The naturally aspirated 4-cylinder boxer engine produces a respectable level of torque while maintaining a low chassis center of gravity. The BRZ is at home on the track because to its near 50/50 weight distribution, manual 6-speed transmission, and 4-way Torsen LSD.
The brand-new Subaru BRZ is a reliable, low-cost, cutting-edge track-day alternative. When it comes to constructing a vehicle for use during a track day, most people are split into two groups. Some fans choose to get their hands dirty by buying a cheaper, older chassis and bringing it up to a usable condition. Some racers prefer to start out on the track with a modern chassis that can take the damage. It’s clear that the BRZ is the best option for the latter. The BRZ is a dependable vehicle, especially when it has been properly maintained and prepared for track day antics. That gives you an advantage over other enthusiasts who are using antiquated equipment.
Aftermarket support for the BRZ has skyrocketed since its introduction in 2012. Almost any upgrade you can imagine for the BRZ should be readily available. After this moment, a BRZ can be driven anywhere. If you have a sufficiently large budget, no option is off the table. It’s complete with all the works, from upgraded suspension parts to power enhancements like forced induction.
Consequently, the primary emphasis of this manual will be placed on the best BRZ mods that deliver the greatest pleasure for the smallest investment. In spite of the undeniable fact that the BRZ could use more horsepower, we will not be adding forced induction due to the high price tag involved. However, speed alone isn’t what makes a good race car. One excellent illustration of this is a well configured Subaru BRZ. This is by no means an exhaustive guide but rather a springboard for further exploration. This is only a starting point for modifying your BRZ for track days; there are many other options available.
Subaru BRZ Track Car Considerations
Track vehicle construction is a complex endeavor that takes into account the driver’s unique tastes and desired level of performance. Is top speed on a straight line your top concern? Cornering? Reliability? All of those are questions that require your own individual consideration. For the sake of keeping costs low, we will prioritize stability and handling in turns.
Subaru BRZ Track Build Engine Considerations
The Subaru FA20 2.0L boxer 4-cylinder engine generates 197-204 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, and it is found in the first-generation Subaru BRZ, Scion FRS, and Toyota GT86. There will be other vehicles on the track with you that have significantly more power. Despite this, it is not a bad idea to invest in a few upgrades that will boost the power of your BRZ’s engine.
Best BRZ Track Car Engine Upgrades
BRZ/FRS/GT86 Performance Headers
When getting a BRZ ready for the track, one of the most crucial adjustments you can do to the engine is to replace the factory headers with something more suitable for racing. That has a lot to do with the BRZ’s exceedingly bad factory header design. The BRZ, and all other FA20D-powered cars for that matter, are infamous for having considerable torque drop-off at roughly 4,000 rpm. In the BRZ community, it is generally referred to as ‘torque dip.’ That’s a big deal on the track, where torque is crucial for maintaining momentum in bends. One of the main reasons of the issue is the design of the factory headers.
In stock form, the BRZ’s exhaust system is somewhat restricted. This is due to the tight packing of passengers and the need for Subaru to comply with strict emission requirements. The stock exhaust also contains two catalytic converters that breed backpressure. The BRZ’s exhaust system begins with the headers and proceeds to the over-pipe, front-pipe (which houses the catalytic convert), intermediate pipe, and finally the muffler. One characteristic of Subaru engines is the use of headers of varying lengths, and the FA20 engines are no exception. This indicates that two of the exhaust ports have longer piping than the other two.
In terms of aftermarket choices, there is a good assortment of both equal-length and unequal-length headers available. Both make the same power levels so whichever you select is up to you, here is a link if you want to check out the difference between UEL and EL headers.
When combined with a correct tune, a new set of aftermarket headers can assist decrease torque dip while also enhancing power marginally. You can normally expect roughly 10-15 horsepower and 8-10 lb-ft of torque from a header modification.
Listed below are some of the best BRZ performance headers and where to purchase them:
Light BRZ Engine Upgrades
Inexpensive and simple bolt-on upgrades can greatly improve the Subaru BRZ’s performance on the track without any hassle. You can get an OEM+ driving experience out of your BRZ with just a few aftermarket upgrades, including a performance exhaust, cold air intake, and performance ECU tune.
BRZ Cat Back Exhaust
The vast majority of BRZs with even minor modifications have cat-back exhausts installed. Exhaust systems with a cat at the back mean precisely what they say. They swap out everything from the catalytic converter to the tailpipe. Typically constructed from stainless steel, this type of exhaust is designed to increase the velocity at which exhaust gases leave the engine, resulting in marginally more output and much more noise. An appropriately tuned high-flow exhaust system can provide anywhere from 10 to 20 horsepower and 15 to 25 lb-ft of torque.
BRZ Cold Air Intake
Also, a performance cold air intake is a simple upgrade that you can make yourself, and it can provide a small but noticeable boost in performance. When compared to the factory setup, a performance intake is meant to improve the engine’s airflow. In most cases, the efficiency of a modified intake increases in proportion to the output of the engine. Poor airflow is a common cause of throttling in highly modified engines. Gains in overall performance from a cold air intake are contentious. There is normally a 5 hp increase.
BRZ ECU Tune
When it comes to cost-effective engine upgrades, few things can compete with a flash tune. This is especially the case when other minor BRZ performance upgrades are included. Gains from a tune are often greatest when forced induction is not used. A BRZ engine flash tune will, in most cases, improve engine performance by modifying parameters such as ignition timing, air/fuel ratio, and other systems. Lots of great brands provide BRZ music, but here’s who we think you should check out first:
Vishnu OpenFlash Tablet
Vishnu OpenFlash is an alternative to the EcuTek tune below that doesn’t necessitate buying the tuner’s proprietary software. If you’re not ready to dive headfirst into custom tuning, the Vishnu tuner comes with a selection of performance maps that are ready to go with a simple plug and play. Everything listed below is available to you as well.
We recommend this choice since it is $50 less expensive than the competition, has more music available for download, and does not need tethering your horse to a specific tuner.
There is a bit more work involved with EcuTek tunes than there would be with a simple plug-and-play solution. You’ll need to buy hardware and a software license from a certified provider in order to use them. Each of these verified tuner software packages either directly integrates with EcuTek hardware or provides free or low-cost custom tuning with the purchase of EcuTek gear. In addition, they offer various bundles tailored to various performance requirements, existing mods, etc.
These are some of the most well-known and respected online tuners where you may purchase EcuTek tunes:
- Delicious Tuning
- FT Speed
- Counter Space Garage
BRZ/FRS/GT86 Track Car Suspension Considerations
A ridiculously high horse power rating does not make for a good time at the races. Yet what really matters is how your vehicle handles the turns. Because of this, suspension upgrades are crucial when customizing a BRZ for the track. Time lost on the straights can be regained in the corners with the appropriate suspension geometry and configuration. It’s not just the suspension that has to be checked for for damage, though; there are many of additional parts that work in tandem with it. This is especially the case if you bought a used BRZ or have an older generation of the car. Since they eventually wear down, check the rear trailing arm bushings, sway bar end links, shock mounts, lower control arms, tie rods, and sway bars.
BRZ Suspension Upgrade
Since the ZC6 chassis has become so popular so quickly, there are a lot of performance suspension options to choose from. When it comes to track applications, there are usually two ways to go. One of these is a performance shock and spring set or a coilover setup. Each one has its own pros. Even though coilovers work better, upgraded shocks and springs will be better than what comes with a Subaru.
In general, shock/spring kits will have stiffer spring rates and better damping, which will make your BRZ turn flatter and reduce body roll. Often, they also lower the ride height, which gives your BRZ a lower center of gravity and makes it look better. But they don’t have a way to change the ride height, which can make it hard to get the exact suspension characteristics you want. Because of this, a spring and shock set-up usually costs less than a coilover set-up.
On the other hand, coilovers do everything that an upgraded spring and shock setup does and more. A coilover suspension setup, like new shocks and springs, will help your BRZ turn more smoothly and keep its balance as it turns. Coilovers have the added benefit of being able to change the ride height all the way up or down, which gives you more control over your setup. Most good coilovers also have some way to adjust the damping, and sometimes you can also adjust the camber.
Subaru BRZ Suspension Supporting Elements
Refreshed bushings, updated sway bars, and other chassis stiffening upgrades can do wonders for a BRZ, in addition to the suspension itself.
The BRZ isn’t ancient, but the suspension bushings in an older model may have lost some of their firmness by now. True especially if you put lots of miles on your BRZ. Therefore, it may be advisable to replace them with new OEM bushings or firmer polyurethane bushings.
Polyurethane BRZ suspension bushings allow less motion in the suspension components and keep the suspension geometry in control, but they reduce comfort on the road. When combined with a high-quality set of coilovers, they have the potential to significantly improve the BRZ’s handling. You should pay special attention to the bushings in the front control arms, differential, trailing arms, and rear subframe.
Your BRZ chassis can benefit from the addition of stiffness brought about by upgraded sway bars. A sway bar is a type of torsional spring that is attached to the left and right sides of the suspension and works to limit body roll. Your BRZ will be able to corner more confidently and with more traction as a result of this modification. The level of rigidity of most aftermarket sway bars is modifiable by the method of installation. In either case, they’re a great method to improve the BRZ’s handling in the turns.
Subaru BRZ Track Car Weight Saving / Safety Considerations
Naturally, you’ll want your BRZ race car to be as light as possible without sacrificing safety. There are a few low-cost options for accomplishing this. The front passenger seat can be removed if you’re constructing a race car with little road use in mind. To save even more weight, take out the rear seat entirely. By eliminating those seats, you may save nearly 65 pounds off the BRZ’s curb weight. You can shed an additional 37 pounds from the weight of your BRZ by doing away with its carpets, soundproofing, spare tire, and speakers. A weight reduction of 102 pounds has a noticeable effect on the track, both in terms of acceleration out of turns and on the straightaways.
When constructing a BRZ racecar, safety must always come first. Safety gear and other safety-related components are essential for a high-quality track build. Some may interpret this to necessitate the installation of a full or partial roll cage for their BRZ. The safety benefits of such a setup cannot be denied, even if it is overkill for entry-level track driving. A good helmet, five-point harness, and race seat should keep you safe in most situations. That topic will be elaborated upon in the next chapters.
BRZ Safety and Weight Saving Upgrades
In most cases, cutting back on weight is the simplest option. Just delete anything that you don’t need on the track. The best part about reducing weight is that it doesn’t cost you a thing to make your BRZ faster. We briefly mentioned various way to remove weight from a BRZ above. It is possible to drop even more weight by ditching the standard battery in favor of an aftermarket one, along with the manual, any interior trim pieces, and the trunk tools.
Best Subaru BRZ Track Car Racing Seats / Harness
A good racing seat is another technique to reduce cabin weight while increasing safety. Even if your automobile has a high-performance engine and suspension, the benefits will be nullified if the cabin is jarred around too much for your comfort. On the track, nothing is more risky than a seat that doesn’t fit properly and isn’t securely fastened to the chassis. In the case of an accident, your safety cannot be ensured by a seat that lacks the necessary strength and rigidity. For your personal protection, you should invest in a high-quality seat built from dependable materials.
A reliable racing seat helps boost one’s self-assurance around turns. There are a number of factors to think about when selecting the ideal seat, such as the type of back support desired, the available space, and the budget. In this case, size may be the most crucial consideration. You want to be held securely by the seat while yet being able to sit there in comfort for hours. This Best Racing Seats guide has further information on sizing and fitment if you’re interested.
In the same vein, you should look for a BRZ-friendly racing seat. That applies to the dimensions and installation of the seat. It’s not uncommon for aftermarket racing seats to not be compatible with the stock Subaru seat rails. The adapters that Corbeau offers are what is normally required for them to work.
Consider investing in a decent racing seat and a harness that will hold you in place securely. A racer’s harness will have more skin in contact with the seat, distributing force more evenly. In the event of an accident, the deceleration can be less severe with certain high-end belts.
Best BRZ Track Car Racing Helmet
A good racing helmet is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment for protecting your head while you’re out there. High-quality racing helmets are required for participation in most races in respectable racing series. To be on the safe side, it’s best to double-check the event organizer’s requirements to see if a certain type of helmet safety certification is needed.
As we saw with racing seats, there is no such thing as a universally effective racing helmet. As part of the design process, some helmets are made to fit a specific type of head. For this reason, it’s crucial to find a helmet that provides optimal protection and comfort for your head.
If you aren’t sure which helmet will work best for you or your needs, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional who can help you make an informed decision. If you want to be sure you choose the best racing helmet, check out competitionmotorsport.com. They have a ton of helpful information. Read their comprehensive guide to buying a racing helmet.
BRZ/FRS/GT86 Track Car Brake Considerations
In order to decrease lap times on the track, a good brake setup is as important as more power. Performance driving relies heavily on braking, as having powerful brakes allows you to brake later and control your speed around curves. Stock BRZ calipers and rotors can suffice for short-session track day driving with fresh or performance brake pads. Still, before hitting the track, it’s crucial to inspect the quality of your braking components, as with any other part of an older car.
However, after a few laps, the factory BRZ brakes start to wear out. It’s prudent, then, to consider upgrading to high-performance brake pads. For maximum stopping power, it’s best to go for the large brake kit. An upgraded braking system will reduce heat buildup and improve performance. Since Subaru’s stock brake fluid is prone to overheating, upgrading to a high-performance fluid is also crucial.
BRZ Brake Upgrade Options
As was previously indicated, the BRZ’s standard braking equipment is sufficient for occasional use on the track. But only if they’ve been well-maintained. As a result, many members of the BRZ community who seek improved stopping power have discovered an abundance of powerful solutions. Performance brake pads are your best bet if you want to keep your factory brakes and hardware but improve braking performance at higher temperatures. Pads with the enhancements will maintain their shape and firmness across a wider temperature range.
When driving on the track, brake fluid is another crucial component, especially for BRZs. The DOT 3 brake fluid that comes standard in Subaru vehicles is known to have a low boiling point. Because of this, it is recommended to switch to a fluid with a higher boiling point than the one used in the production. A plethora of aftermarket suppliers offer upgraded alternatives. A few of them are detailed here.
The time has come to discuss large brake kits. You won’t be sorry you spent the extra money on a BBK if you are constructing a BRZ race car. A BRZ large brake system has several significant advantages over the factory brakes. Subaru STI slotted rotors are commonly used in BRZ BBKs. Installing Brembo or Wilwood calipers on your BRZ can drastically improve its stopping power. In addition to increasing stopping power, BBKs are typically lighter than the original equipment. As a result, the handling is enhanced, as the unsprung rotational weight is decreased.
How to Build a Subaru BRZ Track Car Summary
The Subaru BRZ/Scion FRS/Toyota GT86 has been a hit with car enthusiasts ever since it was introduced to the public in 2012. It has everything you might want in a versatile race car. While stock, a BRZ can do minor track work, with a few well-chosen mods, it can do much more.
Even though it’s not the quickest car out of the box, a BRZ can be made a little bit faster with relatively minor modifications. A cat back exhaust, cold air intake, and an ECU tune are all common BRZ bolt-on mods. If you have any mechanical skills at all, installing those pieces should take you no more than three or four hours. You can’t say that bolt ons aren’t worth it if they add about 30 hp to your vehicle. In addition, a BRZ that sees track time needs high-flow aftermarket headers. Putting on the pedal to the metal can be ruined by the BRZ’s notorious torque drop at roughly 4,000 rpm, but a new header and tune can fix that.
Suspension upgrades can do wonders for the BRZ as well. Due to the high degree of tuning flexibility they provide, coilovers are the most popular suspension upgrade for BRZs used on track days. The flexibility to fine-tune your setup with adjustable damping and ride height is invaluable. Your lap times will drop noticeably with a well-tuned BRZ suspension. It will make a huge difference when used in conjunction with other suspension parts like bushings and sway bars.
When driving on the track, brakes are among the most important parts. To a certain extent, you may get by with the BRZ’s stock parts, but for the best stopping power and least amount of fade, you should upgrade to performance brake pads and fluid. A large brake kit is an expense that will pay off in the end if you buy it.