WRX Ex­pe­ri­ence

NZ Autocar - - Contents -

They say it’s hard to get ‘cut through’ in a crowded mar­ket. Au­to­mo­tive brands do all sorts of crazy things to gain ex­po­sure but it’s even bet­ter to give peo­ple an ex­pe­ri­ence they’ll re­mem­ber. And that’s one of the rea­sons why Subaru NZ has part­nered with High­lands Mo­tor­sport Park, with six Subaru WRXs now liv­ing per­ma­nently at the Cromwell cir­cuit.

As we learned from speak­ing with Tony Quinn last month, race cir­cuits make lit­tle money from ac­tual rac­ing events, so the WRX Ex­pe­ri­ence is another ac­tiv­ity for the team at High­lands to of­fer to the pay­ing pub­lic. The venue might be a track at its heart but it op­er­ates on an 80:20 tourism: mo­tor­sport ra­tio, which is the to­tal op­po­site of Hamp­ton Downs. High­lands has been open for three years and has had 300,000 peo­ple through its doors. The new part­ner­ship with Subaru NZ adds the WRX Ex­pe­ri­ence to their list of of­fer­ings.

We should prob­a­bly make it clear from the out­set that it’s not some­thing you can just rock up to High­lands and take part in your­self. This ac­tiv­ity is for ‘the group mar­ket of con­fer­ence and in­cen­tive cus­tomers.’ So if you’re the boss and look­ing for some­thing ‘to re­ward staff, host prospec­tive clients, or cel­e­brate a com­pany mile­stone’ this could be some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. And if you’re a worker drone, start nag­ging the boss now.

As Wal Dumper, Subaru NZ boss said, the WRX Ex­pe­ri­ence is not re­ally tar­geted at petrol heads but rather it’s “an op­por­tu­nity to show­case the brand and have peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence it first hand.” As he says, it’s an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to be able to drive the cars prop­erly in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment, to ap­pre­ci­ate the prod­uct and to ex­pe­ri­ence the “in­vis­i­ble ad­van­tage of AWD, which can be a hard a mes­sage to get across.”

While we are a priv­i­leged bunch and have done many track-based ac­tiv­i­ties, the WRX Ex­pe­ri­ence does give you a rea­son­able stint be­hind the wheel in what we deemed to be the best per­for­mance car on the mar­ket when it launched in 2014. And best of all, most of that time is spent with the throt­tle pinned, and the tyres squeal­ing while ev­ery­one in­volved is grin­ning. Even dur­ing the ABS demon­stra­tion – gas it hard all the way to the marker be­fore ram­ming the an­chors on and try­ing to weave around the cone ob­sta­cle – ev­ery­one is smil­ing, es­pe­cially as you’re three up in the WRX, egging each other along. And it’s not just for the blokes, the ladies along for the day also thor­oughly en­joy­ing the whole ex­pe­ri­ence. The timed slalom sets those with a com­pet­i­tive streak off, not that we cared of course. There are the tal­ented track pros on hand to pro­vide tips, tech­niques, and ul­ti­mately keep things sane. We paired up on the day with res­i­dent pro, An­drew Waite, who reck­ons he has done around 8000 laps of the High­lands cir­cuit, and also Bren­don Leitch, re­cently third

over­all in the TRS cham­pi­onship. They is­sue the usual tips; keep it smooth, and keep your vi­sion up, look­ing well ahead. And a tip from the even­tual slalom win­ner; al­ways turn the air con off, ev­ery half a horse­power counts, and when in the WRX, prod the Sport Sharp drive mode but­ton to ac­cess the best en­gine re­sponse. And then al­ways re­set ev­ery­thing for the next un­sus­pect­ing sucker.

There are three pack­ages rang­ing from a 30-min teaser of WRX ac­tion which is de­signed to be bun­dled with some of the other High­lands ex­pe­ri­ences, and then there’s a two-hour pack­age with a few track ac­tion ex­er­cises fol­lowed by some ac­tual lap­ping on one of the shorter cir­cuits. Fi­nally, there’s the ul­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence; four hours of fun with five on-track events and the chance to lap the en­tire 4.1km cir­cuit, fin­ish­ing with a fly­ing lap as you are chauf­feured at high speed in the STI driven by one of the res­i­dent hot shoes.

That’s An­drew Waite, he’ll show you what to do when out on track. There’s now a fleet of six WRXs liv­ing at High­lands, two be­ing of the STI va­ri­ety.

The on-track out­ing is a great way to ex­pe­ri­ence first hand the abil­ity of the WRX, and as Subaru puts it, the in­vis­i­ble ad­van­tage of AWD.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.