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A history of creating unimaginative vehicles is in its past. Give Subaru credit, the Japanese auto manufacturer decided to gamble a bit and the result is some surprising vehicles.

One of those is the Subaru BRZ, a sports car smartly designed for driving enthusiasts who want to own a light, agile car that can provide that elusive fun factor while also looking cool.

Who could have predicted that Subaru would develop a car that could hang with such vintage top-brand sports cars like the Mazda RX-7, Datsun 240Z and Porsche 944? The BRZ also competes with current sports cars like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Actually, Subaru can’t take all the credit for the 2015 Subaru BRZ. It shared development with Toyota, whose version is the Scion FR-S. What both these sports cars have in common is a light (2,800 pounds) sporty vehicle with rear-wheel-drive and a flat-4 “boxer” engine.

The BRZ, the only Subaru that’s not equipped with all-wheel-drive, is a four-seat compact coupe that sits low to the ground and was designed more its handling capability on curvy roads than straight-ahead acceleration.

During a trip to Napa and other parts of the challenging Bay Area roadways, the BRZ was a joy to ride, making agile turns on some country roads, demonstrating enough speed to maneuver in freeway situations, and showing very good braking capability. Although not a huge fan of shifting gears any longer, the ease of the BRZ manual transmission gave me more pleasure than pain.

The BRZ has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that features 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed manual transmission is standard for the BRZ. The manual version goes 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, while the automatic BRZ is quite a bit slower, clocked at 7.9 seconds over the same distance. Gas mileage is 22-30 mpg with the manual and increases to 25-34 mpg with the automatic.

While there is no variety with the lone engine, the BRZ does have three trim models – Premium, Limited and the new for 2015, Series.Blue.

2015 Subaru BRZ

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 200 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 22-34 mpg
  • Estimated price: $25,695 to $29,490
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5years/unlimited

Although the BRZ is a throwback to sports cars of old, that also includes the interior makeup, which was limited. Forget about storing much of anything, because outside of the glove compartment there was a general lack of storage bins and no center console.

However, the BRZ did come equipped with high-tech features like navigation, HD radio and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. But one downside was the touchscreen interface is it’s tough to master at first. And there were no convenient-to-reach audio controls on the steering wheel.

The wife and I weren’t complaining about our long drives, that in smaller cars can often lead to a somewhat trapped, uncomfortable feeling. The BRZ seats provide comfortable support and the leg and head room is more than adequate for front seat occupants on long trips.

Of course, it’s just the opposite if you happen to be stuck in the cramped backseat. Leg room is practically nonexistent and backseat folks will find their heads very close to the back window. A plus with the BRZ is the trunk space is better than anticipated with 6.9 cubic feet that stored several travel bags and other items.

If you like old-school sports cars, give the Subaru BRZ a test drive. It supplies the fun that should come with a sports car and it’s offered at a reasonable price, starting at around $25,695.