Cut a-drift. Let’s get one thing straight at the outset – Subaru’s rear-drive BRZ is a perfect car for learning to drift in. It’s better at this than anything else, especially when specified in base Premium trim with Michelin Primacy summer tires. If road-holding matters more than hanging the back end out, Limited models are fitted with stickier Michelin Pilot Sport tires; they retain traction for longer but pose greater challenges when they eventually let go.

All about the driving experience. In the real world, you don’t want (or need) a thousand horsepower to have tail-out fun. The 2.4-liter flat-4 engine fitted to the BRZ is therefore just fine. It’ll hit 60 in six seconds when paired with a manual transmission, while the paddle-shifting auto ‘box (also packing just six forward gears) adds half a second to this time. The engine has recently been breathed on to improve its output, pulling strongly from low speeds and low gears thanks to a curb weight of less than 3,000 lb. What weight there is feels low down in the car, encouraging you to attack bends with gusto, allied to power steering which is pleasingly communicative.

If you’re concerned that driving pleasure might come at the cost of comfort, there’s nothing to fear – in the front seats, at least. The suspension is adroit considering the grippy chassis, and while it won’t iron out bumps in the road, it won’t knock your fillings out, either. When you approach the limits of adhesion, the car leans almost instinctively, telling you traction is about to be sacrificed. And if you do need to stamp on the brake pedal, the response is predictable and effective.

Call this a four-seater? We alluded a moment ago to the lack of comfort in the BRZ’s rear. Truth be told, there’s a lack of anything back here. The only people who could get comfortable are small children in car seats, and people with no legs. Even if you did manage to squeeze yourself in, claustrophobia would soon drive you out again. It really is a joke to suggest this car can seat four. The rear seat is best used for luggage, especially since the tiny 6.9 cu ft trunk is better at accommodating two spare tires than anything as practical as suitcases or flat-pack furniture.

The irony is that things are vastly better up front. Stylish, heavily bolstered seats hug you tightly, providing good posterior support. The low-slung driving position does make you feel as though you’re sitting on the road itself, but that’s probably deliberate. An eight-inch touchscreen dominates the dash, while even $30,000 base models enliven proceedings with a seven-inch digital instrument gauge and keyless entry. We’d splash the cash and move up to a $33,815 Limited automatic, for reasons explained below.

2022 Subaru BRZ Interior

A mixed safety picture. If you buy an automatic BRZ in flagship Limited trim, you’re in safe hands. It comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. However, you’ll miss out on the latter two features on Premium models, while manual cars don’t even get emergency braking. That’s a major concern, which has been noted by the IIHS. It only gives automatic BRZ models a Top Safety Pick+ award; the NHTSA has yet to issue any results.

Being so low down in the driver’s seat could also pose some visibility issues for smaller drivers, though at least you’re hemmed in by some attractive features. The round air vents and aluminum pedals are nice touches, and everything falls nicely to hand. The plastics are disappointing in terms of quality and quantity, but Subarus are renowned for reliability. The underwhelming three-year, 36,000-mile warranty isn’t likely to be taxed.

Final thoughts. In truth, the BRZ will appeal to a very small pool of potential buyers. It’s effectively a two-seater – the rear bench is only suitable for car seats or grocery bags. The tail-happy handling is fun when you’re in the mood, but would quickly become tiresome as a daily driver, or in a northern state. Safety-conscious buyers will find it unforgivable that manual models miss out on automatic emergency braking, and smaller people will find the driving experience akin to driving a go-kart through a world of SUVs and trucks.

The BRZ is far from practical, then, but it’s good at a few key things. It can put a smile on even the most jaded driver’s face, with superb steering and a lively engine mated to responsive handling and a surprisingly compliant ride. The front seats are sculpted enough to make you feel like a racing driver, and the $30,000 price tag means you don’t need to spend big on a Toyota Supra to have fun. If driving pleasure is your main priority when choosing a new car, Subaru has you covered.

Check 2023 Subaru BRZ Prices Near You