A few words from Alex Bellus

Photographer & proud owner of a 2013 Subaru WRX

It seems like it was just yesterday that I bought my ’94 Miata. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the little Miata, driving it all over the Midwest and wringing out everything the chassis and engine had whenever I could. As much as I loved the car, it was taken away from me in September when a woman driving a 2012 VW Jetta ran a stop sign and t-boned my car right in the driver’s side door.

Luckily, I wasn’t injured aside from a few cuts and bruises but the car was a total loss. After sorting things out with insurance, I decided that this time around I’d get something a little more practical and comfortable to use as a daily driver and to carry around all of my camera gear. With the money I got from insurance, I had enough to cover about half the cost of something used that might fit what I was looking for, or I could use the money as a down payment on something newer. I decided that if I was going to be taking on debt to own a better daily driver, I should try to get something that fit as many of my needs as possible.

Alex Bellus Photography

After a few weeks of searching the internet and weighing the pros and cons of a number of different cars from 2003-2006 BMW M3s, 2011 Ford Mustang GTs, early BMW 135is, and Subaru WRXs and STIs, I started test driving what I could find locally. While I liked everything I drove for different reasons, I decided that the maintenance costs of the M3 would be too expensive, the 412-hp of the Mustang would be a bit of a challenge to drive daily in the snow and insurance would be costly, and the 135i’s in my price range all had high mileage. I had a number of friends with Subarus but had never had a chance to drive one. After seeing a deal for financing on 2012 WRXs, I definitely thought that might be a good choice for me.

When I wanted to test drive one, I struggled to find any new 2012 models available in Minnesota, so I contacted Scott Putnam at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru about a 2010 Subaru WRX STI hatchback they’d just taken in on trade. It was a little more than I wanted to spend but had low mileage and was pretty clean. After driving it, I decided that the adjustable DCCD differential, Brembo brakes, and 6 speed manual weren’t worth the extra cost over the WRX. Scott was really knowledgeable about WRXs and STIs, being heavily involved in the rally world in the US so I figured he knew what he was talking about when he suggested that the WRX would be a better fit for me as a daily driver.

The WRX, especially in hatchback form, offered the best blend of fun, practicality, speed, and comfort. I liked the idea of being able to go anywhere, in any conditions and not have to worry about getting stuck somewhere. The added space of the hatchback was a real draw for me too and I hoped that I’d get better gas mileage than the other options I was looking at. While the WRX isn’t exactly sleek or sexy compared the Mustang or the BMWs, I liked the hunkered down stance and pumped-up look of the flared fenders.

After spending about a week looking for the right 2011-2012 WRX, I decided it would be more cost effective to just order a new 2013 WRX. I took the insurance money I got from my now-totaled Miata and placed my order for a dark gray metallic 5-door WRX at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru on September 10th and began the wait for my car to be built. I was originally told it’d be delivered in December but just over a month later, I got an email from Scott that my car had come in!

Alex Bellus Photography

Alex Bellus Photography

I ordered my base trim WRX with fog lights, all-weather mats, red footwell illumination kit, STI short shifter and a 110V outlet. As I photographer, I think I specced this car out perfectly to be a mobile photoshoot machine. I can charge camera batteries or power lights with the 110V outlet and the car came standard with a USB hub to listen to my iPod or charge my phone. When the seats are folded down, I’ve got more than enough room to carry around all of my camera gear, camping gear, and my 3 dogs.

Alex Bellus Photography

Alex Bellus Photography

The break-in procedure was 1000 miles of varying the engine speed as much as possible while keeping the tach needle below 4,000 RPM. Luckily, I had a 750 mile round trip to Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI the weekend after I bought the car. I had to downshift a lot on the highway to fluctuate the revs while breaking in the engine but I really enjoyed driving my WRX and put plenty of effortless miles on the car. I was also glad I ordered the front clear shield before picking up the car so that I didn’t have to worry about hitting bugs or rocks when I go on road trips.


Alex Bellus Photography

I’ve really been enjoying driving the WRX and I love the rush when boost comes on. My sales guy, Scott Putnam, has been very helpful in answering my questions about the car and ordered the Subaru/Yakima roof rack for me. I’ve also added Rally Armor mud flaps and picked up some winter wheels and tires and I’m now definitely ready for winter! With the couple of snow falls we’ve had this year, I’ve loved being able to blast through the snow and not have any issues with traction.

Alex Bellus Photography

I really enjoy exploring the highways of the US and look forward to packing up all of my gear in the back of the car and just driving it as much as I can. Now that the WRX is out of its break-in period, I can really enjoy spooling up the turbos and using some of the performance these cars are known for. I’m also looking forward to my first service for an oil change and making sure everything is working as it should. I know Morrie’s will treat me right.

This guest post was written by Alex Bellus, a notable Automotive Photographer in the Twin Cities area and recent Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru customer. To learn more about Alex, head over to his website.

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