I have always been a sucker for a pretty sports car. In fact, at one rash time in my life, I vowed never to own anything with more than two seats.

OK, I also vowed I'd never own a garden hose either, but that's beside the point. Life may hand you a need for four doors, but the lure of a real sports car, you know, one with two doors, two seats and proper performance, is still strong.

And this one caught all of us auto scribblers off guard. When did someone at Subaru call someone at Toyota and say, "Hey, why don't we go halfsies on a sports car?"

I'm glad they did though, because the Subaru drivetrain and Toyota styling have produced two lovely machines. The 86 is Toyota's version, After the Scion brand died, and the BRZ is the Subie.

First, the heart of any sports car, the drive-train. Subaru has made its bones with the flat four engine. Horizontally opposed engines were the mainstay of old VW Beetles and air-cooled Porsches. In Italy, they called them Boxer engines, and the 86 has a two-liter, 205-horsepower mill under the hood.

It isn't turbocharged yet, but don't bet against it down the road. It's mated to a proper 6-speed manual gearbox, and if you insist on the automatic, then just turn in your man-card right now.

An automatic in this car is like using Dom Perignon to make mimosas.

The look is simple and lovely. Smooth lines, and a very utilitarian sports car interior hit all the right pleasure buttons for me.

And then you crank it up and hit the go pedal.

0-60 comes up in the low six-second range which is marvelous. Shifts are smooth and precise, and the car is deceptively fast.

Mileage is 21 city, 28 on the highway, and with big, beefy rubber on 17-inch wheels, it corners as if on rails.

The only negative, and it's minor, is the sound. A car like this should sound like an MG or Triumph at full growl. It actually sounds like an Impreza that's overrevving.

Other than that, the little 86 is perfect. And starting around $26,255, is right on the mark with Miatas and such.

If this thing had been around when I was young, my leaky old MGs would have been history.

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