There was a lot to like about this now-ten-year-old Subaru WRX.

Car: 2011 Subaru WRX
Location: Malibu, CA, November 2016
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 5D MkII + EF 50mm 1.8

The GR WRX hatchback was an excellent car. 0-60 in under five seconds thanks to its turbocharged, EJ25 2.5-liter flat four, and all the grip in the world. I first experienced this firsthand back in December 2016, and it was truly a game-changer for me.

This photo was taken when my buddy let me drive his for a review on Opposite Lock (RIP) on Jalopnik, a few years before I started getting paid money to do car blogs. It was a way to self-assign and get my words out there, to get practice, criticism, and just eyes on my stuff. We went playing around on Malibu canyon roads, savoring its corner-exit acceleration and sure-footed, AWD launches.

I had actually never driven an AWD car before, only ridden right-seat on track and on an autocross course. The sensation of having so much grip was massive; drive it like a FWD car, except have a ton more grip at your disposal. The first hundred yards of turning up the heat a tad on Piuma Road, a famously tight and bumpy stretch of road up in Malibu, was quite an enlightening moment.

Now as I write this, I’ve driven all kinds of AWD, RWD, and FWD cars, and have thoroughly figured out each configuration’s strengths. Though I still look back fondly on the first time I got to rip through a fun road with grip-rich AWD, and it makes me want to rekindle the sensation somehow.