I ''designed'' such cars as a teen-ager. They had hoods with humongous scoops, headlamps large enough to serve as searchlights, and exaggerated wings on their rears. They were such obvious works of reluctantly virginal youth, the only things missing from their bodies were pimples.
Thus, it was with wry laughter that I got behind the steering wheel of the 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS sedan -- easily one of the ugliest cars ever built. With its super-scooped hood, headlamps augmented by large, round fog lights, and its flying wing on the rear, it is as ugly as the original RS, which was introduced as a coupe in 1998. But, happily, that is only part of the story.
This pug-faced ode to Walter Mitty can run. ''RS'' stands for ''Rally Sport,'' as in racing rallies, speeding along long-abandoned roads, traversing fields of mud, zipping through arid plains with dust billowing in the distance.
You might not want to do those things with your store-bought RS, but at least you won't have to worry about snow.
I can attest to this, having driven the 2000 RS through a snowstorm. There were car crashes to the left of me, car crashes to the right, but there I was, smack dab in the middle of ''Go!'' The little thing didn't stop, slip, waver or skid. It just hunkered down and kept moving. Credit here goes to all-wheel drive, which Subaru installs in all of its vehicles sold in North America.
The bottom line is that while other vehicles are spinning out, or getting stuck in the snow and mush, the Impreza RS keeps moving with confidence. In the end, there is something undeniably beautiful about that.
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