Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

re­mem­ber the first time I ever saw a Car­los Sainz edi­tion Toy­ota Celica on the road. I was walk­ing home from school. It stopped me in my tracks. Lit­er­ally.

I stood and stared. I’d heard about this thing. Read about this thing. Dreamt about this thing. And there it was.

My mates were – most likely (I can’t re­mem­ber ex­actly…) – deeply en­gaged in an ar­gu­ment about whether Will Car­ling could re­ally hold a can­dle to his Eng­land cen­tre part­ner Jerry Gus­cott.

Such was the depth of de­bate, no­body no­ticed I’d stopped, un­til Richard Kingston asked me what I was do­ing. I pointed. In his own mind, Kingo knew a thing or two about cars. “Nice Porsche.” Se­ri­ously? I couldn’t help my­self. Didn’t he know this was the Car­los Sainz (CS) Lim­ited Edi­tion car, with only a cou­ple of hun­dred in Bri­tain. It was a road­go­ing ver­sion of the Turbo 4WD; I never ap­pre­ci­ated it be­ing la­beled a Gt-four or GT4. It wasn’t it. It was a Turbo 4WD. Ex­cept this one was even bet­ter on the road. It had more cool­ing vents in the front bumper, wa­ter injection on the in­ter­cooler and ev­ery sin­gle one was in­di­vid­u­ally num­bered. That was the power of a rally spe­cial on the road. Af­ter that came a le­gion of Ford Es­cort Cos­worths, Mit­subishi Lancers and Subaru Im­prezas. I was al­ways more of an Im­preza fan and was, on find­ing em­ploy­ment on th­ese pages, for­tu­nate enough to drive a Sonic Blue P1 be­fore they went out of pro­duc­tion.

It wasn’t quite the ul­ti­mate, wide-bod­ied 22B, but it was still a spe­cial piece of kit.

See­ing the ris­ing price of things like the 22B got me think­ing about the lack of such ma­chin­ery th­ese days. Where’s the four-wheel drive equiv­a­lent of the i20 or the low and lean Fi­esta or Polo?

I poked around the of­fice a lit­tle bit and found an R-line Polo. With a 1.2-litre en­gine. And 100bhp. Oh dear. Ob­vi­ously, there are warm Fi­es­tas and DS 3s around, but noth­ing that would come close to a war­bling Im­preza, ea­ger to be snick-snicked through the gears and thrown at B roads up and down the coun­try. Or so I thought.

OK, it’s not a per­fect fit, but it was Se­bastien Ogier who got me think­ing about this one. We were talk­ing about his recce car: a Golf R. On his di­rec­tion, I de­cided to give it a go. Granted, it doesn’t have the brutish looks of the 22B, but its blown two-litre mo­tor does pro­duce more power than the Subaru man­aged. That’s a good start. A Haldex four-wheel-drive sys­tem of­fers fab­u­lous trac­tion and ‘Race’ mode even makes for a half de­cent sound­track, even if it does come via a sound ac­tu­a­tor.

My only gripe with the thing was the lack of a con­ven­tional hand­brake. Its pre­de­ces­sors the R32 and 4Motion – like the Im­preza – had been per­fect for some grav­elly donuts, but the happy stick was very much part of the process.

I ac­tu­ally loved the Golf R and was very sad to see the back of it. I’m sad­der still that this is the only ex­am­ple mod­ern rally clas­sic for the road.

Volk­swa­gen, put all of this un­der a Polo body, chuck some wings on it, a Se­bastien Ogier sticker on the back and broad­cast your WRC bril­liance to the road.

“Ogier got me think­ing about this one”

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