Two bumps, a quick left turn, then I shoot down with a 26% gradient. This is followed by an incline with a full 21%. I hear the instructor's voice on the radio. Take braking energy with you, keep on the gas! The brain wants to slow down, the voice warns to accelerate. So stay on the gas, against all common sense! The four-wheel drive flies down and up the mountain, I take the curve over the curbs, aim at the left wind turbine on the horizon and work on keeping the ideal line.
It's fun, demands and releases tons of adrenaline. A day on Bilster Berg with petrol, driving fun, great cars and life. It all started, as so often, quite harmlessly ...
Last Friday near Bad Driburg. Ralf Muckelbauer and I arrive at the Subaru Driving Experience with the WRX STI and BRZ at Bilster Berg. He in the Subaru, me in the Saab. The evening before we had philosophized in the hotel about what to expect. A tourist trip or motorsport? The occasion is clearly defined. Subaru is retiring the WRX STI, a great rally legend. 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 lay their carpet of sound over the system and will not stop until 20 p.m. Managing director Christian Amenda arrives, followed by a brief introduction by Ralf Muckelbauer. Welcome, a few sentences, firm handshake. Pleasant, relaxed, close to the customer. My impression, which will solidify over the course of the day as I get 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 drift training for the WRX STI. A watered dynamic area, a four-wheel drive car, an instructor. Exciting, also because I've never sat in a WRX STI before. Taking it easy is different, and drifting training gives you a good taste of the day. In teams of two, it's on the track. Throttle, turn in, throttle off, the rear is coming. Counter-steer, moderate with the accelerator. I can do it halfway, others are more talented and more 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 to warm up, and not without claim.
It goes on from station to station. Drift with the BRZ. No four-wheel drive, but a boxer. Rear wheel drive, but no turbo. A car that I didn't have on the screen. Until this day. And until Tim Schrick came!
Break from the WRX. More about Schrick and the BRZ.
The BRZ Until Friday I thought it was a car that would look good in front of the ice cream parlor. So not of interest, without ambition. And Tim Schrick was only known to me as a journalist and moderator. Schrick is more, much more! Motor sports enthusiast, for example, who won the 24 Nürburgring 2018 Hours for Subaru with the BRZ in its class. Also an exciting narrator, an interesting, polarizing personality. He thinks a lot of the BRZ. 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 BRZ is extremely well balanced and probably unique in its class. A nice, affordable sports coupe for Landstrasse of the second and third order. Something I would never have suspected behind the vehicle. Still, opinions are divided. My passenger says a turbo and more horsepower would be good, and the discussion goes back and forth throughout the day.
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.
The main actor on this day is the WRX STI. A legend that everything revolves around. I'm getting to know a really cool professional, and I'm finally allowed out on the track with the ultimate Subaru driving machine. Tomorrow more of the mountain that calls. And somehow in the end it has something to do with Saab ...