Subaru WRX STi

Subaru WRX Sti

 

   Think Subaru and I’ll wager it probably won’t be long before you start to reminisce over one, or maybe both of the following: Rugged and slightly battered four-wheel drive pick-ups or estate cars, usually covered in horse poo, driven by slightly grumpy people who tend to have of whiff of the same. Or, metallic-blue, mud splattered Imprezas, emblazoned with yellow 555 logos, blasting through pine forests with an ever-so slightly grumpy Scotsman by the name of Colin sawing at the wheel. The prevalence of either probably depends slightly on your age.

   If it’s the latter that’s the case I may well have some good news for you.

   For a couple of years, because of less than favourable Yen to Sterling exchange rates, high ownership costs, and rather surprisingly, a lack of demand, Subaru didn’t sell Imprezas – rally spec or otherwise- in the UK. Now though the exchange rates are far nicer. The Impreza WRX is back!

    Well, almost. The truth is it’s been available since last May, but demand for Subaru’s press demonstrator was such that it’s only now that yours truly has been able to get his hands one.

   Also, despite appearances very much to the contrary, and the fact that the car you see here can trace it’s DNA right back to Subaru’s all-conquering rallying icon, what follows is not a review of an Impreza. You see, these days Subaru want you to know their four-door turbo-charged flagship by its letters alone in a bid to differentiate from it’s lesser specced brethren. This car then is simply the WRX STi.

    Regardless of what it says on the boot lid the same basic format that has served Subaru so well for as long as most of us care to remember is very much firmly in place. A flat-four 2.5 litre turbo-charged engine drives all four-wheels of a be-winged bubble-arched four-door saloon via a six-speed manual gear-box. Even the 0-62mph times are the same: 5.2 Seconds. Further good news for the faithful is that the WRX STi is now £4000 cheaper that it once was. Oh! You can almost hear the men in the nylon rally jackets signing their deposit cheques already.

    Of course there a changes too, plenty of them in fact. The styling is more aggressive for a start. The pitch of the windscreen has been altered to give a much clearer view forwards, there are new front bumpers and headlamps, and  further subtle detailing, such as square LED running lamps, all add up to help make this Impreza – Sorry!,  WRX STi – probably on of the best looking Subarus in ages.

The real changes however are the ones you can’t see. There may not be any more power to exploit - although that said 295 bhp is still not to be sniffed at – but thanks to the use of stiffer steel in the chassis, stiffer bushes and suspension components and a quicker hydraulic steering rack the WRX is said to be far more involving and more rewarding to drive. Its centre differential can be tweaked to suit certain situations, of a specific driver’s preference too.

   Notice though that I wrote said to be.

    The problem is the ride: it’s far, far too hard, especially when compared to this car’s similarly priced and more likely as not, European, contemporaries.

     On all but the near billiard boar smooth tarmac every bump, every pothole, and every imperfection of the road surface shudders directly back into the cabin which, due to being clad in some very last century looking hard and shiny plastics, does little to soak up the high levels of road, wind and tyre noise that are generated at anything else but a gentle cruise – if such a thing could only be maintained.

   The power delivery of the WRX STi is equally as brutal. Below 2000 rpm the engine seems to do little bar sound belligerent. Above that the turbo wakes up and then wham; great dollops of power are delivered that have you reaching for the next ratio quicker than  you can shout turbo-lag. Add in the WRX STi’s tricky short-shift gearbox and progress more often than not is anything but smooth.

     I’ve no doubt that on the right road and in the right hands the WRX STi would indeed be virtually impossible to keep pace with; it’s a proper fast and furious road-racer if ever there was one. Its grip levels are astonishing and its performance… well let’s politely just say it’s more than adequate.

    Nevertheless, it’s suffers from too many flaws to overlook. The Subaru faithful will no doubt say they add to its charm, but technology has moved on at a pace that ironically  Subaru, the once all dominate world rally champions, sadly haven’t  kept up with.

 Sadly, and there’s no getting away from it, the WRX STi feels far better as a rose-tinted (or should that say metallic blue and mud spattered) reminiscence than it ever does in real life.

   

Subaru WRX STi 2.5i

Engine: 2,457cc flat 4Cyl 16V turbo-charged DOHC petrol

Transmission: 6 speed Manual, four wheel drive.

Power:  296 bhp @ 6000rpm

Torque: 300 lbft  @ 4000 rpm

0-62MPH: 5.2 Sec

Max Speed: 159mph

CO2: 242g/km

MPG: 27.2 combined

Price: From £28,995

 

Many thanks to Subaru’s UK press office for the loan of their WRX STi

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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