Review by Brendan McAleer, photos by Brendan McAleer and Jonathan Yarkony

The saying goes that a woman becomes a mother when she learns she is pregnant, but a man doesn’t become a father until his child is born.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

I disagree.

To my mind you’re not really a parent until the first time you have to give up something for your kid. Where mothers are concerned, that can be a stretchmark-free stomach and all the other little (and large) indignities of pregnancy. For a father, it’s often sayonara to sleep and occasionally to sanity – or so it sometimes feels.

It’s also time to kiss those sports car dreams goodbye; two-seaters just don’t work when there’s a baby in the picture.

But wait!

Here’s Toyota and Subaru midwifing a pair of twins into the world: the all-caps-lock BRZ and FR-S. They’re near-identical sisters with minor differences in suspension tuning and they offer rear-drive hoonery along with sensible rear seat room. Well, that’s what it says in the brochure anyway.

My little girl came into the world with a squeak and a squall and since then has ridden in the back of everything from a Honda Accord to a Porsche Panamera GTS. When a Subaru BRZ showed up in the driveway, it was the perfect opportunity to test out whether this car would pull double duty.

First, let’s check the specs. As any married man will attest, there are usually two sales pitches involved in the purchase of a sports car, that of the salesman to the performance-figure-obsessed husband, and that of the husband to his far more practical wife.

2013 Subaru BRZ2013 Subaru BRZ2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

Naturally, this is not always the case – I happen to know of one couple where Dad couldn’t care less about cars and Mom drives the most amazing competition-package E46 M3 you’d ever hope to see: dark blue with a deep red interior, low mileage and six-speed manual. She flogs the hell out of it too.

So where I generalize, assume that we’re talking about whichever spouse is trying to convince the other that a sports car is a good idea. That means ignore the 0–100km/h times and lateral grip figures and check out the safety ratings.

Good news here then – while it’s low-slung, the BRZ has an IIHS Top Pick safety rating for crashworthiness. While small, it also has an appearance of strength, with a small trunk to absorb rear impacts and plenty of metal on the side when a child-seat is installed.

Probably the BRZ’s biggest competitor is the venerable Mazda MX-5, which to my mind has several dynamic advantages over the boxer-engined 2+2. On top-trim levels of the MX-5, it’s possible to turn off the passenger airbag and clip in a rear-facing child seat. As Chris Rock once said, “you can also fly an airplane with your feet – that don’t make it a good [expletive] idea.”

True dat, Mr. Rock. Balance a child seat shotgun side of a Miata and try to imagine what’s going to happen when some idiot in an old Ford Explorer comes blasting through a red light. I’d want more than just a door between my progeny and two tonnes of dummy-propelled SUV, thank you very much.

2013 Subaru BRZ
2013 Subaru BRZ. Click image to enlarge

The BRZ, however, looks like it might take the impact in stride, with a solid B-pillar forming a protective arch. There is just one problem.

I strapped the kid into her car seat and handed over her indestructible toy 1950s LeMans Maserati to chew on (these are great, find them here: Leaving her happily balanced on the stoop, it was time to bolt in the seat base. Oh dear.

I know I’m not the most flexible person in the world, mentally or physically, but you’d need to be a third-level yogi to get this thing strapped in in a tight parking spot. However, the LATCH system is present on both sides and everything was soon cinched down.

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