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The land of affordable sports cars is limited these days, but there are still good options to choose from. For less than $40,000, both the BMW 230i Coupe and Subaru BRZ are worthy options. But is the BMW worth the price jump from the Subaru? That’s what we’re here to find out.

The BMW 230i in purple
BMW 230i with M Sport package | BMW

On performance, the 230i wins out

For base performance, there is no doubt that the BMW 230i pulls ahead of the Subaru BRZ. The 2.0-liter turbo in the Bavarian coupe delivers 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in its stock form. Meanwhile, the Subaru BRZ features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, but without a turbo, that setup only offers 228 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque.

Zero to 60 mph takes just 5.5 seconds in the BMW, while the Japanese two-door requires an extra 1.1 ticks to reach the same mark. Critically though, the BRZ is available with a manual transmission, while the latest 230i models lack the same three-pedal engagement.

Compared to the previous version, the latest BRZ is a big upgrade. However, the Toyobaru collaborative compact is still a bit underwhelming in the two-door sports car landscape. We can say this though; the BRZ handles like a dream on a twisting mountain road. The 230i weighs just over 3,500 pounds compared to the 2,800-pound Subaru, and that weight difference shows up when slicing through the switchbacks.

The BMW offers more refinement than the BRZ

A 2023 Subaru BRZ sports car shows off its silver paintwork as it safely drifts on the sandy tarmac.
Subaru BRZ | Subaru

For everyday living, it’s hard to argue against the interior quality of the 2023 BMW 230i. When compared to the Subaru BRZ, the tiny 2 Series just feels better. The bolstered seats, multi-zone climate control, and dual digital displays feel a cut above those offered by the Subaru. And despite similar tech inside, something about the BRZ still feels a step behind.

Sure, the added heft of the 230i reduces the engagement on a touge run, but it also makes the Bimmer more comfortable for living with every day. Reduced road noise and vibration plus additional damping support elevate the overall driving experience when compared to the Subaru.

That said, both of these sports cars are easy to live with every day. The BRZ has the safety tech and connectivity that drivers demand for a daily commute. And there is enough comfort and cargo space to handle simple grocery runs at the end of the week.

Passengers will appreciate the extra three inches of rear legroom in the BMW, and up front, an added two inches of headroom make the 2 Series a better choice for taller drivers. Overall though, both do the job of a sporty daily driver incredibly well.

Is the BMW 230i Worth the Extra Cash Over the Subaru BRZ?

The 2023 BMW 230i from the rear
The 2023 BMW 230i | BMW

With a price tag of nearly $10,000 more than the Subaru BRZ, making the jump into the BMW 230i isn’t an easy ask. However, advantages in both performance and interior comfort may be worth the extra cheddar for those who have it.

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