Drive – Subaru Impreza WRX STi Review

16 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Subaru Impreza WRX STi Review

Jonathan Hawley

Make SUBARU Model IMPREZA Price $56,630 (manual), plus on-road costs. Model Variant WRX STi Series MY05 Series Year 2004 Body Group 4D SEDAN Equipment Driver airbag, Cruise control, Remote locking, Power windows, Air-conditioning Fuel Consumption 11.6 L/100 km average. Premium unleaded, 60-litre tank.

Insurance Premium $1572 (RACV, 40-year-old rating one male driver, medium-risk suburb, $1000 excess), subject to underwriting review. Kerb Weight 1475 kg (manual). Steering Rack and pinion, 2.6 turns lock-to-lock. Turning circle 11.6 m. Suspension Front: Independent, MacPherson struts with stabiliser bar.

Rear: Independent, dual-link struts with coil springs and stabiliser bar. Transmission/Driven Wheels Six-speed manual. All-wheel drive. Warranty 3 years/unlimited km.

Wheels/Tyres 17 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels, tyres 225/45. Space-saver spare.

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MOST cars that race around the globe in the World Rally Championship don’t bear much resemblance to the roadgoing versions. An exception is the Subaru Impreza WRX. The roadgoing version might not have all the multimillion-dollar technology of a fully fledged competition car, but at least it has the bountiful performance of a turbo engine and the traction of AWD.

Pay extra for the STi version of the WRX and you get a whole lot more: an even more outrageous body kit – high-rise rear wing and even bigger bonnet scoop – stiffer suspension, the obligatory boost in engine power and, for some reason, pink badges.

It has also been upgraded recently with some extra goodies. There are wider wheels, requiring more bulging rear wheel arches, and suspension changes have increased the wheelbase a little.

The biggest mechanical feature is the adoption of a new centre differential, which can apportion torque to the front and rear axles, giving a degree of adjustability to the driver. Called driver control centre differential, the system means the driver can change the amount of torque being sent to the front and rear wheels through a dial on the centre console. There’s also an automatic setting.

The drivetrain remains as before, meaning the 2.0-litre engine with more turbo boost than the standard WRX and variable valve timing produces a big 195 kW of power and 343 Nm of torque. There’s a six-speed manual gearbox (and no auto option).

All that power in a car weighing less than 1.5 tonnes produces huge acceleration. Use all the throttle and revs and the STi’s turbo engine is quickly bouncing towards its redline (or, at least, the beeper that suggests the next gear change), and driving thus, Subaru’s claim of zero to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds is quite believable. Once on the move, there’s an impressive amount of mid-range thrust, especially in third and fourth gears.

Unfortunately, for more sedate driving there isn’t a lot of pulling power at low revs. Move away from the traffic lights without a heap of engine revs and it takes seconds for revs and turbo boost to build; meanwhile that Corolla or Commodore next door has whipped past. The STi has high levels of road noise from sticky, competition-style tyres and a firm ride that is complemented by crashing noises from the suspension.

There’s also a new front differential that, on occasions, produces graunching noises at low speeds and changing from first to second gears at full throttle elicits a worrying thump from the rear.

In the right conditions, however – a tightly twisting road, or even race track – this is a thrilling car with vast reserves of grip and traction, and lively steering and acceleration when the engine is in its comfort zone.

Behind the wheel there are ultra-supportive, wrap-around front seats. There’s also a keypad that needs a number entered before the engine is started and it’s a huge annoyance. Leave the car momentarily with the engine running and it shuts down.

There’s a decent-sized boot and reasonable leg room in the rear and enough comfort in features such as climate control air-conditioning, a good stereo, power windows and the like. It’s going for $56,630, or about $14,000 more than the standard WRX.

Apart from outright performance and visual attitude, it’s difficult to see what the STi offers over a regular WRX, with its greater refinement and more accessible performance. As an exercise in oneupmanship the STi won’t go unnoticed, but most drivers would be happier leaving it on the rally course or race track.

Competitors

Subaru Impreza WRX

4 stars – Less power than STi but not much slower and far more driveable thanks to better engine flexibility and almost acceptable ride. Styling additions still overblown, but to lesser degree. Price $42,490.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII

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