Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec.R

28 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec.R

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Subaru’s standard WRX has been criticised for being a little too gentlemanly. Its softer suspension made it easier on ageing backsides, but less engaging to drive.

The STI was designed to redress the balance by delivering a more focused, hardcore sports car experience. Power and torque are up by almost a third on the standard model, while suspension settings are stiffer although still noticeably more agreeable than the previous STI.

Our test car was the Spec.R, which adds lightweight BBS 18-inch wheels and leather/alcantara Recaro bucket seats – and $5000 to the price.

On the road, the car delivers an excellent balance between grip and cornering ability on the one hand and comfort on the other. It proves that a relatively softly sprung car doesn’t have to handle like a small dingy. The body leans more through corners than the Audi and the Mitsubishi and the steering is slower to react to inputs, but the car still manages to grip and hold its line at speed.

For the tech-heads, the STI has a new version of Subaru’s active centre differential, which changes the handling characteristics of the car by tightening or loosening the car’s two limited-slip differentials. The only place you are likely to legally feel the difference, however, is on a race track.

The other gadget is Subaru’s SI-Drive, which allows you to adjust the throttle setting to sensitive for sporty driving, normal, or ‘intelligent’ for pottering around town. Subaru says this encourages drivers to use less fuel.

The STI’s engine feels sedate until you hit 3000rpm, at which point it feels like a thoroughbred racehorse tugging at the reins, demanding to be let loose. Pass 4000rpm and the STI’s acceleration becomes manic.

The only thing minor quibble is a slightly notchy gearshift and a relatively muffled exhaust note at lower speeds. You feel as if a car with this intent should spit and growl more.

Overall, the car is a lot closer than its predecessor to the feel of a Euro hatch in the way it drives, although around town, the driveline is still a little clunky, with some whine at low speeds (though for Subaru fans this is simply part of the car’s character).

If it drives more like a Euro competitor, the STI sure doesn’t look like one.

Only three panels – the bonnet, roof and rear doors – are shared with the regular WRX model. This thing looks like it’s been hitting the steroids.

The wheel-arches bulge at the front and rear, accommodating a wider wheel track and bigger 18-inch wheels with performance brakes.

There is also a large rear roof spoiler, quad exhaust pipes, air vents on the front wheel guards and the trademark bonnet scoop. The overall impression is more HSV Commodore or FPV Falcon than Euro hatch.

Inside, the STI has different surface finishes and a different instrument panel to the standard WRX. We’re not convinced by the colour scheme, however, while the rest of the cabin, while neat enough, is spoiled by hard plastics on the dash and doors, as well as a centre dash that is functional rather than pretty.

The seats, however, offer excellent support and plenty of adjustment.

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