It started out as a tiny idea. Since the boys (Sean Russell, Mike Sabounchi, Jofel Tolosa) and I embarked on a weekend adventure to Las Vegas a month prior, our creative art director Bernice Guevarra for Super Street was sadly left at home - but I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted to go to Vegas with a bunch of young immature kids. So a month later, the very first Rock in Rio USA music festival was about to take place at the new MGM Resort Fairgrounds. And with Bruno Mars, John Legend and Empire of the Sun headlining the second weekend of the festival, it was a no brainer!
But we had to take something fun to drive out there in. I made some requests, asked some favors and eventually our bigger brothers at Motor Trend answered the call. Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh graciously offered one of his long-term vehicles, a '15 Chevy Camaro Z/28 - an outright 600+hp beast if you don't mind me saying. It would have been fun for us to make the four-hour journey in the muscle car but as the weekend got closer, our little group got bigger. Along with Bernice and I, Motor Trend staffers and creators of MT's The Goods, Nate Martinez and Carol Ngo joined the squad. And with them, Nate offered his long-term chariot of fire - '15 Subaru WRX STi Launch Edition.
I had the opportunity to drive one of these STis at Laguna Seca Raceway when it debuted. It's an absolute control freak and a thrill around the track. It grips, it's balanced, it's stiff, it's got some oomph; but how would it hold up on a 300+ miles road trip with four people and our luggage? This would be a true test, and made it an even damn better reason to go to Las Vegas!
We all met up at Nate's house. Luckily, he had the Thule cargo box up to because with four bags and a few backpacks, trunk space was tight. I was definitely a little unsure whether I should trust my jeans, socks and underwear in the Thule box but it got to Vegas with no issues. The ride comfort of the car is at most moderate. I spent most my time in the back and the seats are hard. With the KW Clubsport coilovers, things can get bumpy, too. There were a few bumps and dips that got me airborne! The STI isn't loud but isn't quiet either. We had jams playing on the Pioneer head unit with Pioneer speakers installed as well. The stock stereo in the STI sounds terrible, the Pioneer system was a slight upgrade, but this car definitely needs a subwoofer if you plan to enjoy the music more. Where this car shines though is ultimately the performance. Downshifting and accelerating to pass cars, even with four people and luggage, was effortless. Taking long sweepers on the freeway or tight on-ramps, a breeze for the STI. Overall, it's not the most comfortable vehicle to take on long road trips, but it gets the job done, especially if there's a road course at the end of the journey. We probably wouldn't take the car again to a music festival though, but we're not complaining. We didn't mind being out of the office just to watch Bruno Mars.
The Story of Suparu v3.0
Words Nate Martinez
When I got the word that Sam wanted to collaborate, I told my BFF and Motor Trend colleague Carol Ngo, "Uh, YUS." It had been awhile since our crew had done something big (mostly because of me and my situations, but that's another story), so road trip it was. How fortunate then, that Suparu (the "Super Subaru") was our chosen chariot. At any given time MT's long-term test vehicle fleet is filled with cool rides - Jaguars, Land Rovers, Corvettes, Z/28s, M3s, ISF, Evos, AMGs, you name it. We run a chaperone system within the brand, which means one person is deemed a car's "owner". When I got handed the keys to our '15 STI and was told to treat it as my own for the next year, you're damn sure I ran with the opportunity.
Subaru of America was kind enough to oblige and welcomed my eagerness to modify MT's very own Launch Edition. In doing so, I knew I'd finally have the chance to meld two worlds dear to my heart: tuner and OEM. I promptly collaborated with key partners like Autofashion USA, KW Suspension, and Mackin Industries/Yokohama Wheels. Time was of the essence, but quality wasn't to be compromised. We eventually created a little beast, one that could trace canyon roads with abilities beyond those molded at the factory, and that could also lap circuits, no problem, any day of the week. I didn't want to void any warranties, hence the stock engine, so enhancing grip and braking were my key focuses. "I wouldn't change a thing," commented Randy Pobst, MT's championship-winning hot shoe, after lapping it on Streets of Willow (it was over a second quicker than stock).
Suparu did extremely well over the hundreds of miles of hustling we did in the three days to Vegas and back. It was roomy and still mostly comfortable. I say mostly because Bernice and Sam did get woken up by a few mega bumps in the road. Blame the KW Clubsport's firmest settings and the Bridgestone tires' noisiness for that (those are my preferences, which are also track-proven!). We fit our luggage in Thule's suh-weet Sonic Alpine roof carrier, bumped to tunes from Pioneer's NEX setup, and averaged over 30 mpg.
After our successful and fun trip, I can't help but to wonder: Where are we going next, squad?
Squad Going Up!
Words Carol Ngo
This marks the first time Super Street and Motor Trend did any sort of collaboration, and what better way to start the trend then is to go to Vegas! One of the highlights and memorable part of the trip was just being with whole crew, cruising up and down the strip in the #Suparu STI as onlookers break their necks. A few of them even recognized the car as the MT x SS car! From jamming out with Bruno Mars at Rockin' Rio to raging with Zedd at XS, I would say this trip was a huge success and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. Part two anyone? Check out our adventure with the hashtag #SSxMT on Instagram!