When a crew of Subaru aficionados get together with their prized wheels, it’s not just a Saturday morning show’n’shine or a mid-week cruise night. No, it’s an all-day pumped-up extravaganza of a hyper meet, that takes over four parking lots and throngs of road. And about 750 cars showed up for an afternoon of car talk, music, aftermarket goodies and eats, in support of Ronald McDonald House.
Among the predominantly Subaru Rally Blue, the largest representation came from the WRX contingent, old and new. Hardly surprising, given the rally car’s long-standing reputation for spunk and value. Last year, I barrelled around in a WRX that was marvellously moxie, despite being an automatic. What kind of wallop would a six-speed deliver, I wondered?
Luckily, a 2016 Subaru WRX Sport with a stick shift was available, in a deep shade of Lapis Blue – just a tad more sinister than the usual blue. And, I was to discover, most appropriately so.
As my left foot got down to business, I checked out the 6-1/2 inch screen on the dash which connected me to Starlink, and easily hooked up my Sirius stations. Against the cool beats of the Friends of Distinction and Bobby Womack, I took my rightful place in the left lane and shrieked down the highway. Damn! The throttle read my mind, and the powerful 265 horsepower engine blustered effortlessly along the 401.
With a trip to cottage country in the works, I had shopping on the go. Although the WRX was a goodly sized four door sedan, it gracefully sallied around town, even in the thick of rush hour. Hands down, the all-new rear side vehicle detection tech earned its supper nudging us in and around downtown gridlock!
But the real test, the proving ground, would be the 10 kilometres of punishing dirt roads leading up to my cousins’ cottage. Now, I adore my cousins, and their summer hideaway is nicely off the grid, but the route is just plain torturous. Once off the main road, the way to Chez Cousins is a crooked, knobby trail that’s as gorgeous as it is harrowing. Consisting of pebbles, sand and razor grass, it meanders through dense bush, majestic jack pine, poplar and birch. It’s like having mother nature as a backseat driver, breathing down your neck.
I left early on a Friday morning, and sailed up the 400, Georgian Bay bound. Under a clear blue sky, the WRX easily lapped up the asphalt. With wickedly powerful torque, I could overtake slower traffic even in fifth gear, passing tractors and trucks alike. The kilometres flew by in short order, and I eased the WRX off the main drag onto an erratically paved road. Soon, the cut-off loomed and I shifted down, gritting my teeth.
Turning onto Trull Road, I felt the AWD grip the lumpy dirt, while the suspension held tight. I held my breath, gently coaxing the snout along the ragged course, over tree roots and loose gravel. But the WRX skimmed over the bumps with finesse, digging into the harsh terrain with zest. Slacking up on the brake, I bore down on the throttle, and burst through the bush.
The WRX spewed gravel and dirt in its wake, weaving around close corners without yielding an inch. It held true, even as I gripped the steering wheel firmly, leaning into the choppy curves, remembering to breathe. I urged it faster and harder, climbing up sharp rocky slopes, dodging craters and dips. As it jostled along, I clenched the shifter, with occasional quivers wrenching my arm. But clinging steadfast, the WRX dug in and spanked the trail, while the powerhouse engine pushed forward.
Finally, we coasted into the large clearing just in front of Chez Cousins, who were busy preparing lunch. “That was fast!” they said. “How was the road?”
“Perfect,” I said. “Just perfect.”