The Nemesis rumbles mightily but needs a shade more killer instinct
The road workers were sitting on the back of their truck, eating lunch when I pulled out of a nearby carpark - but the sight of my test car made them put their sammies down and start applauding.
No, I wasn't driving an expensive European convertible nor a souped-up ute. Instead, it was Subaru's latest incarnation of the rally-based WRX.
Called the Nemesis, the model is limited to 12 for sale in NZ. Priced at $54,990 ($5000 more than the entry level WRX), it's powered by a quad cam 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer petrol engine, producing 211kWs compared with the standard WRX's 195kWs.
That engine's rumbling undertone impressed the road workers, even while it loitered in first gear. They were also impressed with the car's appearance. Coloured the World Rally Champ blue, the Nemesis had black 17-in alloys plus black side mirrors and a huge boot spoiler.
The 2013 version also featured up-rated STI springs, lowering the car by 20mm and an STI front suspension strut brace.
There are also limited edition STI side skirts and STI front lip spoiler, plus full privacy glass.
The WRX sedan is 20 years old and this latest version lacked the interior features most drivers have come to expect - no touch-screen, parking assist or rear camera and the dash had the look of an early 2000s car.
The Nemesis followed on from other limited edition WRX models released by Subaru NZ, including the Crouching Tiger and Ace of Spades.
The all-wheel drive combined with a five-speed manual gearbox, plus four wheel disc brakes with a four channel antilock system, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution and a Vehicle Dynamics Control function.
With six airbags, the WRX Nemesis sedan had a top five-star safety rating from the European and Australian crash testing programmes.
To help with the appearance of an exclusive sedan, the driver's seat was high backed with the WRX motif stitched into the front seats.
The package produced the appearance of an everyday rally car but struggled to live up to its name.
T'he word nemesis is defined as "an opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome, one that inflicts retribution or vengeance". It originates from the Greek goddess of retributive justice.
Sure, I can channel that goddess most days of the week but this vehicle could have been named Minion, a "follower devoted to serve his/her master relentlessly" and, in this case, the WRX brand.
Sure, this car is a classic in providing a sporty road feel, cornering like a professional and emphasising its responsive handling.
And yes, that engine was dynamic when it takes off, powering through the gears and producing that electrifying tone.
But you hit fifth gear as you nudgee 100km/h and the magic dissipated - and the engine demanded a sixth gear for optimum performance. Instead, you're left trotting along the motorway wishing the gearbox lived up to the Nemesis name.
Not that the road workers cared about my need for speed on the open road. They were just impressed with the engine's rumbling at low speed.