Poor Man's 3 Series - 2013 Subaru BRZ Long-Term Road Test

2013 Subaru BRZ Long Term Road Test

2013 Subaru BRZ: Poor Man's 3 Series

August 16, 2012

That is, if you consider $28,000 the province of poor.

But my first real seat time with the BRZ last night reminded me that the 3 Series shrink-wraps itself around you in the same way. How you spill your rump, ribs and flab into the seats and it all finds a crevice to occupy. Then the quick clutch engagement, and how easily you can summon the BRZ's exhaust tenor.

The gearbox is much more working-class than the 3's slick action, right down to the perceptible shudder when you slot into first gear before the signal changes. But it encourages crispy, deliberate shifts. It feels like you'd have to work hard to mis-shift it.

We recently tested a new 3 Series -- the 2.0-liter, no less -- that rang in around $50,000. Sure, you get plenty more for that premium: Nicer cabin, a useful rear seat, badge bravado, and something much better than the BRZ's dopey radio (small icons and push-screen shown above, characterized as such because most commands require repeated blunt trauma).

But the 3 Series still sets so many benchmarks for driver engagement that it feels like the Suyota developers planted themselves in one for many hours, searching for the same sounds and sensations, for half as much money.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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