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2003 Subaru Baja (Natl) Preview

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Strapped into a climbing harness and clinging like a limpet to the rock face high above a beach on the Pacific Ocean, the intrepid journalist wondered aloud as he listened to the guide who was covered in bruises: What the heck am I doing here? Far below, a surfing instructor tried to get another wobbly writer to stand up on a board, and off in the brush saddle-sore urbanites pedaled gamely on mountain bikes. There was even an opportunity to go karting. What, indeed, were we doing here? Test-driving Subaru’s new Baja, of course. We’d driven the dozen or so odd-looking yellow vehicles in a parade through Malibu to Sycamore Cove, jumped out and spent the rest of the day trying to prove how athletic we were while studying the press kits which came encased in a tiny wetsuit complete with zipper.

This was Subaru’s idea, to ensure we experience all the activities for which this new sedan/SUV/mini-pickup was specifically created. To feel like the 18-25-year- old look-at-me adrenaline junkies who are expected to buy the Baja. Not easy, considering most automotive journalists are hoary old-timers mostly over the age of 45. Scaling a 50-foot cliff is most appreciated if observed from the ground, it was decided. Surfboards could be carried only if dragged along the sand. And the three-inch wide saddles on the mountain bikes were definitely guaranteed to make sitting difficult for the next few days.

Young at heart (and knees)

In truth, Subaru got its point across. The Baja is the best buy if you are young, active, love the outdoors, camp, hunt, fish, off-roading is limited to trails, and you like standing out as a guy who prefers to drive an odd-looking chopped-off car added to a truck that surprisingly looks great. You are simply one big recreational dude.

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