Two bumps, a quick left turn, then I shoot down with an 26% gradient. This is followed by a slope with a full 21%. I hear the voice of the instructor on the radio. Take braking energy, stay on the gas! The brain wants to brake, the voice admonishes to give gas. So stay on the gas, contrary to all reason! The four-wheeler flies down the hill and up again, I take the bend over the curbs, sight the left wind turbine on the horizon and work on keeping the ideal line.
This is fun, challenges and spills tons of adrenaline. A day on the Bilster mountain with gasoline, driving pleasure, great cars and life. Everything had begun, as so often, quite harmless ...
Last Friday near Bad Driburg. Ralf Muckelbauer and I arrive to the Subaru Driving Experience with the WRX STI and BRZ at Bilster Mountain. He in the Subaru, me in the Saab. The night before we had philosophized in the hotel still, what to expect. A tourist exit or motorsport? The occasion is clearly defined. Subaru says goodbye WRX STI, a great rally legend, retires. A worthy farewell party in front of a handpicked audience with the world premiere of the Final Edition.
Proud of Boxer
Subaru? There were connections to Saab. The 9-2x based on the Impreza. And the 9-6x, whose prototypes are in the museum in Trollhättan. Anyone who reads longer on the blog knows about my big heart for small brands. They are the icing on the cake of the (boring) automotive everyday life, and I just like it. Subaru relies consistently on the boxer engine, which I can easily suffer anyway, whether it is installed in the front, in the rear or as a mid-engine. Its advantages are a shallow installation, a resulting low center of gravity and excellent handling. I do not even have to talk about the quiet running and the sound. And of course, Subaru is four-wheel drive. The largest car all-wheel brand worldwide.
In the morning there is still peace on Bilster mountain, Later, the boxer engines will put their sound carpet over the system and only silenced against 20 clock. Managing Director Christian Amenda arrives, followed by a short performance by Ralf Muckelbauer. Welcome, a few sentences, firm handshake. Sympathetic, relaxed, close to the customer. My impression, which will be consolidated over the day, getting to know other Subaru executives.
This is followed by registration, welcome and the presentation of the final edition of the Subaru WRX STI. There will be 122 pieces, all numbered. Collectibles of permanent or increasing value. The homage to a motorsport icon that will not exist, at least in this form.
How to get to know a car. The WRX STI method.
It starts with the drift training for the WRX STI. A watered dynamic surface, a four-wheel car, an instructor. Exciting, also because I've never sat in a WRX STI before. Walking calm is different, and the drift training provides a good taste of the day. In teams of two it goes on the track. Gas, turn, gas off, the tail comes. Countersteer, moderate with the gas foot. I get it so halfway, others are more talented and ambitious. The WRX STI turns in a circle, you get a first inkling of the potential of the vehicle. The dynamic area is a playground for warming up, and not without pretension.
It continues from station to station. Drift with the BRZ. No four-wheel drive, but boxers. Rear-wheel drive, but no turbo. A car I did not have on the screen. Until this day. And until Tim Schrick came!
Break from the WRX. More about Schrick and the BRZ.
It BRZ I held until Friday for a car, with the maximum one makes in front of the ice cream parlor a good figure. So not of interest, without ambition. And Tim Schrick I was only a journalist and presenter a term. Schrick is more, much more! Motorsport for example, who won the 24 hours 2018 at the Nürburgring for Subaru with the BRZ in his class. Also an exciting narrator, an interesting, polarizing personality. He holds a lot of the GT. From the consistent lightweight construction, the perfect balance, the low center of gravity. A car that Porsche should have built. He says.
Marketing? He brings it so believably over that my interest is aroused. What speaks in my eyes against the GT: Only 200 PS, only about 200 Nm, not a turbo. As a Saab driver I'm used to mountains of Drehmonent. The BRZ but sets on speed.
It goes on the track. Guided driving. The instructor in front, a pack of BRZ hollering behind. Briefing on radio, find ideal line, accelerate. With each lap I find the GT better. He lies like a board on the street. The curves are fantastic, the coupe does not stress. The 2-liter boxer is revving, the gear crisp. At 6.000 revolution, the maximum speed is applied. You have to get used to that. Clear.
A lightweight version would be ultimate.
And Schrick is right. The GT is extremely well balanced and probably unique in its class. A nice, affordable sports coupe for secondary and third-order roads. Something I would never suspect behind the vehicle. Nevertheless, the opinions are shared. My passenger says a turbo and more horsepower would be good, and throughout the day the discussion goes back and forth.
The solution would be simple. A lightweight version of the GT would be the ultimate machine. Lighter seats, less equipment. Cranks instead of windows and so on. Thus, the BRZ would again train one or two hundredweight and offer even more dynamism. Purism. Porsche suggests something like that. And Tim Schrick would be even more excited.
But the main character on this day is the WRX STI. A legend around which everything revolves. I'm getting to know a really cool pro, and I'm finally getting on the track with the ultimate Subaru driving machine. Tomorrow more of the mountain calling. And somehow it has something to do with Saab at the end ...