The quiet little town of Squamish has many attractions: rock-climbing, kite-surfing and para-sailing, hiking, sailing, fishing - pretty much any of the outdoor activities featured in the MEC catalogue. It's a little slice of Beautiful BC, just a short drive from the city.
It's also the provincial capital for hilariously over-powered Subarus.
This is mostly due to the efforts of the mad-scientists over at Rocket Rally, a tuning outfit that doesn't really do the whole neon underbody lighting and big stereo thing, but will armour-plate your family car with 3/16" aluminum sheeting and fit it with a turbocharger the size of a labradoodle. They build and operate Subaru Canada's rally cars as well.
Rally-racing and Subarus are as closely woven together as the Gore-Tex fibres that make up the clothes of the people who buy them. If you're not aware, rally-racing is to normal road-racing what downhill mountain biking is to the GranFondo: big knobbly tires, lots of mud, plenty of spectacular crashing.
In fact, the very name of the high-performance versions of the Subaru Impreza is taken from the World Rally Chamionship: WRC becomes WRX. These road-going rally cars have been Canadian favourites for over a decade, but they've actually been around for even longer than that.
Subaru was already rallying their Legacy mid-sized car in the early '90s, and having some success in doing so. However, when the new Impreza came out in the early 90s, the smaller car was a better fit for the tight, winding rally stages.
We got the Impreza as a four-door sedan, two-door coupe or hatchbacky "sport wagon." Japanese buyers got the option of a turbo-charged four door rocket with 237 horsepower and all-wheel-drive. Released in 1992, it was a smash hit.
Speaking of smash hits, the international appeal of the WRX in the 1990s was very different, country to country. In the UK, younger buyers went nuts for the accessible performance and tuning potential of the car: it was a real B-road terror.
In Australia, also well suited to all-wheel-drive cars, the "smash hit" thing got taken quite literally. As WRXs were always available in wagon form (some early models were officially dubbed the wonderful "Subaru Gravel Express"), they made great getaway cars.
Easy to steal, without passive immobilizers, a WRX wagon was tough enough to smash through a storefront and spacious enough to fill it full of ill-gotten Australian goods, like boomerangs and jumbuks and those little hats with corks on them, or what-have-you. Then it was off to play Waltzing Matilda with the coppers, who simply couldn't keep up.
Meantime, something called the STi was built. These were special versions of the standard WRX even more like the rally-racing cars that were stacking up victories with drivers like Colin McRae at the wheel. Subaru Technica International (STI) has an official colour that's a bit odd for such a barrel-chested racer: cherry-blossom pink. Still, with power now in the 250hp and up range, the STi versions were nothing to be laughed at.
In the latter half of the 90s, special-edition cars became all the range, and here's a rule-of-thumb if you happen to be looking at one of these right-hand-drive JDM imports on our streets today: the more letters after the name, the better.
Therefore, a WRX is good, a WRX STI is better, and a WRX STI Spec-C RA-R is just about the best thing in the universe.
Sure, your commute might not be a winding dirt road through a Scandinavian forest, but Subaru will certainly sell you a car that'll make it feel like one.