Breath of Life

Simplicity is the key of true happiness. Of course it is a thought full of relativism, but let’s face it: for us petrolheads is the joy of driving and enjoying some great views and nothing else. It’s the search for ultimate satisfaction that will make you get your head around discovering new places to find memorable roads: we’re like surfers, drifting from shore to shore, in search of that perfect wave. We look for that perfect corner, the one that will always be memorable. Nowadays it seems that everything needs to be artificial in order to be successful, and we lost some of pleasure in enjoying simple things. Just give us a nice empty road, a great car and a fantastic scenery and we’ll be happy forever.

It’s the simple things that are the best to enjoy and sometimes, they can be found in places which are not always on the map. To some people, Slovenia never seems to appear to be on the map. Americans aside, it is not always a destination which seems to appeal to many travellers. For us, it’s a largely undiscovered driving heaven. Twisty roads between lost forests, new sceneries and a exciting discoveries…what’s not to like. Perhaps, Bled is the kind of town which, at the eyes of us foreigners seems to speak mostly about Slovenia. A beautiful lake with a lovely town, close to the nature of the Triglav National Park: this is an Escape which is a celebration of something simple and lost. It’s a trip to a different realm, really, where it’s far away from crowded places and noisy traffic. Needless to say it: which better car than the new Subaru BRZ Gunma Edition to discover these pleasures?

This car has always been a breath of fresh air. Interestingly, its marked traditionalism is what has always made this sportscar great and very enjoyable in every circumstance. Just remember when you sit behind the wheel of one, ask yourself: “how many other cars like this one can I buy on the market?”. The answer, as you might have guessed is: “none”. 

Of course, there are plenty of used cars which offer a great balance between performance and pricing, but if you have to think of obtaining the maximum satisfaction with a limited budget for a new car, you are not left with many options. This is especially true when considering something with rear-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated engine. Sure, the main option will always remain the gorgeous Mazda MX5 ND, but if you want a 2+2 coupe, the BRZ (or the GT86 if you prefer), is indeed the king of its segment. This car is a reminder of the real world. Let’s face the ugly truth: as much as we love day-dreaming of zillion-horsepower Ferraris and Lamborghinis, chances are that our dream garage will always remains so. 

The BRZ is a very welcome, tangible (and obtainable) reality. Not expensive and easy to run and to maintain, it is made of the same attainable material of many great cars. This time, blue-collar is a major win: the BRZ is one of the all-time greats. It won’t violently push you further into the seat under heavy acceleration, nor snap your neck with impressive cornering G-forces, but it’ll make you smile and appreciate happy with what you have already got. Driving it makes you desire it more than you’ll ever think, thanks to a driving-focused development and state of the art engineering. 

As soon as you settle into the seat you clearly feel a very strong sense of purpose, with excellent visibility in front, near perfect layout of the controls and…a manual gearbox, with no auto-blip in downshift. There aren’t many buttons with too-many futile functions and the instrument cluster displays the only informations you truly need: no frills, no posing, and just enjoy the sight of an oil temperature and pressure gauges, shown on the digital display on the right of the tachometer. No silly “race” or “extreme” modes are available as the overall temperament of the car is extremely docile: in true naturally aspirated fashion, the engine comes on cams at 4000rpm, despite maintaining excellent levels of torque and tractability at low rpms. 

What truly distinguishes the Gunma from the standard BRZ are the Sachs suspensions, which are fantastic. If you love driving on fast open roads, you’ll surely agree that stiff setups are great for two things: trackdays and bragging at static car shows. Since roads are no racing circuits and we all love a bit of rallying in our lives, the Sachs suspensions work exactly as you would expect from a high performance unit. They’re soft on the bumps and have no significant roll through the corners. The ride is never bone-shaking and the Gunma is agile and extremely precise. It’s very controllable under every circumstance and it will make you appreciate the qualities of a true driver’s car. Despite the presence of excessive tire noise in the cabin while driving at highway speeds, the comfort offered by the Sachs is something to be praised: pair this with the not-so-low ground clearance and you appreciate the qualities of a genuine sports car, just like the good old days. The BRZ is delighfully mechanical under every aspect. The gearbox is a little notchy and hard to use at times, but it doesn’t matter very much, as it is something which is real and not faked in any way. You’re always genuinely linked to what the car is doing and you’re always aware of the situation around you. It’s a real sportscar for…real and down-on-earth people. 

Sadly, the BRZ does not seem to be the sellout it deserves to be. The person writing this is not old, but…just a little old school. Newer generations won’t appreciate these cars, probably because they didn’t live the 90ies like we did. This is no big deal after all…time goes by and never stops, but if you lived through the golden age of modern sportscars and you remember 964’s being new in the showrooms, well…the BRZ is the car for you. 

It’s a car that makes driving its focus and in this case, it is not per se. You can take your delightfully mad obsession with you to the supermarket, the office, your garage, everywhere, just savouring something that rather being old…it’s as contemporary as our passion for cars. 

The BRZ is a reminder of things should be for an entire generation: simpler, cleaner and less “made up”. Going to Slovenia and enjoying the silence, the empty roads and the unexpectedly beautiful scenery is a true breath of fresh air: nothing new, but dead exciting. 

Discovering Bled and the Triglav National Park is more than a simple trip into a Country which is not always on the map for tourism. Perhaps, besides the good memories between the twists and bends of Slovenia’s beautiful roads, it’s the sight of our “Gunma”, tickling gently with a thick smell of burnt brake pads, while enjoying a portion of fine Štruklji with mushrooms that will make you enjoy life even more. After all, horsepower will make you go fast, but in the end, it’s driving that will make you go far. 

The post Breath of Life appeared first on Escape on Wheels.

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