Road Test: The 2013 Subaru BRZ

Prices for the Subaru BRZ start at $26,265.

Prices for the Subaru BRZ start at $26,265. (March 16, 2012) (Credit: Bloomberg )

You look fat in that. Of course I'll be late. Your baby reminds me of Gollum's uncle.

This is what the 2013 Subaru BRZ might say if it could talk. The all-new, rear-wheel-drive sports car starts at $26,265, and boy is it honest -- perhaps more so than any other car on the market today.

The question about the BRZ is, can you handle the honesty? The answer might surprise you.

For starters, only an honest car would dare to tell you that you don't need 8,756 horsepower to have a good time. This Subaru has a modest 200. Torque? A tidy 151 pound-feet. This, from a naturally aspirated (no turbos or superchargers) 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine featuring direct injection. Zero to 60 mph happens in 6.4 seconds, according to Motor Trend.

Such figures may seem quaint when minivans are creeping toward 300 horsepower and the latest Shelby version of Ford's Mustang will have more than double that.

But remember that the best sports cars of yesterday raised your pulse not with acceleration but with balance and handling borne out of the car being lightweight and thoughtfully engineered.

This Subaru continues that trend, a difficult feat in an era of ever-expanding safety equipment and crash regulations that have consistently raised curb weights over the years.

A BRZ with the standard six-speed manual transmission weighs about the same as a Toyota Corolla -- a bit under 2,800 pounds. Add 50 more pounds for the optional six-speed automatic. The extensive use of high-strength steel and an aluminum hood helped keep the weight down.

Also keeping things light is the fact that this is not a particularly big car. It has the wheelbase of the small Hyundai Accent hatchback, and it's a mere 4 inches longer.

The car has a clean, sporty look throughout. Short overhangs at the front and rear are paired well with softly sculpted fenders. The rear of the BRZ is its most aggressive angle, with a low-slung dark plastic diffuser surrounding the dual exhaust tips and center-mounted backup light.

When you throw the BRZ onto curving, sweeping roads, don't expect the thumb-sucking pushover predicted by the naysayers who derisively scoff at its horsepower or torque output. Instead, get ready for some good, clean thrills from a vehicle not unlike a bigger, more refined go-cart.

This car is undeniably down on power to other performance cars of its ilk. But to dwell on this deficit misses the point of the BRZ. It has a balance of old-school thrills and connectivity to the road that additional power would probably upset.

Fortunately, it's honest about its purpose. And your waistline.

BASE PRICE: $26,265 (including destination charge)
POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter, DOHC four-cylinder boxer engine with direct injection; six-speed manual transmission
HORSEPOWER: 200 at 7,000 rpm
TORQUE: 151 pound-feet at 6,400 rpm
ZERO-60: 6.4 seconds, according to Motor Trend magazine
CURB WEIGHT: 2,762 pounds
WHEELBASE: 101.2 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 166.7 inches
EPA FUEL ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
BOTTOM LINE: Honesty is always the best policy.