The first four door Impreza for three years...
...and it's not even an Impreza
Upgrades include engine and suspension alterations
These combine to make it a more rewarding driver's tool
The interior is just as bland as ever though
...and boot space could be improved
First DriveUltimate Impreza STi mixes sharper responses with pleasing usability. Just don’t expect to see too many on UK roads
First DriveIf the WRX STI is already very much your cup of tea then there’s unlikely to be any way of convincing you that the 320R's power boost is a bad idea.
What is it?
Things to note about the new Subaru WRX STI. One: it's a saloon. Two: curiously, it's not called Impreza any more.
Subaru has listened to its punters and given them the four-door they've craved since the last one departed in 2007, but nonetheless there's a feeling within Subaru that things have moved on.
We’ve already driven the Australian-spec car so how does the UK version stack up?
What’s it like?
Well, you can no longer have your WRX with gold wheels or WR Blue paint, for example, and the days when 60 per cent of Subaru sales were turbo nutjobs are long gone.
What returns with the new saloon is a bodyshell correspondingly stiffer than its hatched sibling; that is similarly revised and priced, incidentally. Think of this as a mid-life facelift, not merely a boot introduction.
You'll note accordingly, then, that even away from the rear, new body panels abound (for my money they improve the visuals no end).
With the revisions come minor engine changes which ease the 2.5 boxer through Euro V emission regs. More serious are suspension alterations, to Japanese domestic-market 'Spec C' specification.
It should have had these all along. Most significantly they give tighter body control, impressively not coupled with a ride deterioration (it out-rides a Mitsubishi Evo X convincingly despite spring rates that, at the rear, are stiffened 50 per cent). There's a new sense of poise and flatness, while the mild lateral looseness of old is banished.
Agility isn't back to the 'time-attack' good/bad old days; the STI steers only moderately quickly and still makes a satisfying distance companion. But it is a more rewarding driver's tool too, no question. More grip, more response, more feel, more poise. Less of nothing.
Should I buy one?
I ran an STI hatchback for a year, and argued that for 85 per cent of the time it was preferable to a new Evo. For me, this saloon takes another 10 percent.
It remains weak where Imprezas usually do. Cosseting new Recaro seats and detail trim upgrades can't mask an interior less compelling than those from Europe, while the Yen's relative strength gives a disconcerting price increase. New mechanicals, though, enable it to compete.
Subaru WRX STI 4dr
Price: £32,995; Top speed: 158mph; 0-62mph: 5.2sec; Economy: 26.9mpg; Co2: 243g/km; Kerb weight: 1505kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyls horizontally opposed, 2547cc turbo petrol; Power: 296bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 300lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual