From £31,550
If 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.

Our Verdict

Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Does the WRX STi turn the Impreza into a proper driver’s tool?

The Subaru STi is fast, grippy and offers immense value

  • First Drive

    Subaru Impreza WRX STI Nürburgring

    Ultimate Impreza STi mixes sharper responses with pleasing usability. Just don’t expect to see too many on UK roads
  • First Drive

    Subaru WRX STI 320R

    If 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.
26 October 2011

What is it?

Despite the appearance of this Subaru WRX STI 320R, the manufacturer recently asserted that it no longer wants its performance models to dominate the brand limelight like they have done in the past.

Thanks to a combination of recession and high fuel prices, the WRX STI’s segment has become a crumbling niche and Subaru now believes that fresh ‘lifestyle’ products would be more likely to generate the showroom traffic which was previously buoyed by rally-inspired ironmongery.

Nevertheless, the current model, already reinvigorated by the welcome addition of a saloon profile last year, remains a key part of the Subaru portfolio and there’s evidently enough enthusiasm for it at the company’s UK division that time and money has been invested in improving its performance.

The 320R is a upgrade pack which can be specified at the point of sale (where it’s currently available as a non-badged special edition) or retro-fitted at a later date. The pack is offered free on the £32,995 standard car until the end of the year, but the power upgrade is worth £799 and the accompanying satnav is worth £750.

Previous incarnations would have been a messy mechanical affair involving a new exhaust, but this time round Subaru has found an extra 20bhp simply by remapping the ECU on the standard 296bhp 2.5-litre Boxer engine.

What’s it like?

Apparently the 320R enhancement was ushered through the development stage by a former employee of Prodrive, Subaru’s former tuner-extraordinaire. The connection is fitting as the software embellishment is the precisely the kind of performance enhancer the British firm used to rustle up for its employer.

The remap is intended to improve the flat-four engine’s flexibility by producing more torque at lower revs. This it does: 332lb ft at 3400rpm as opposed to 300lb ft at 4000rpm, but the reality is just a very slightly shorter pause before the boxer finally stretches its legs beyond the initial listlessness.

That things have improved from there on is evidenced in the figures, where the 320R trumps its lesser sibling’s 5.2 second 0-60mph time with a claimed 4.9 second sprint. Real world that doesn’t translate into a dramatic difference, but the higher power output does appear marginally quicker at 5200rpm, making all 316bhp readily available between corners.

Nothing else has changed beneath the WRX STI although the car’s butch all-wheel drive setup was hardly likely to struggle with such a moderate power increase. The steering still isn’t quite as accurate as you might hope, but the usual tenacious grip and old-fashioned B road poise ensure that the horizon always appears satisfyingly promptly.

Should I buy one?

If the WRX STI is already very much your cup of tea then there’s unlikely to be any way of convincing you that making it go faster is a bad idea. Japanese special editions (and their uniquely British translations) have always been a numbers game, and a sub 5 second 0-60mph time is still a desirable commodity for those who dwell on such stats.

Overall though the Subaru WRX STI 320R doesn’t propel the model into new realms of desirability. Its deeper-seated weaknesses – a poor interior and relative high price – remain, and with a UK distributor clearly focused on other things, they are unlikely to be resolved until the new Impreza (due in the UK next year) spawns a fresh performance derivative.

Subaru WRX STI 320R

Price: £32,995; Top speed: 158mph; 0-62mph: 4.9 seconds; Economy: 26.9mpg; Co2: 243g/km; Kerbweight: 1505kg; Engine type, cc: 2457cc turbocharged horizontally-opposed four cylinder; Power: 316bhp; Torque: 332lb ft; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
11

DKW

26 October 2011

The 'more pics' link isn't working for me

26 October 2011

They've arrived.

26 October 2011

I hate to be the one to say it, but where are the gold wheels and the WR Blue Mica paint.

26 October 2011

There's a new and improved Impreza (slightly less ugly, lighter) being launched right now in N.America - when does it arrive in the UK?

26 October 2011

Looks so much better than the hatch, nice in black too - Though I'd have to stick a big wing on the back of mine, it's only right after all.

26 October 2011

Part of the problem for me and I guess many other is that the Impreza is a been there done it, car. It wouldn't be so bad if the price were more competitive (remember the original £19k car) but the Pound / Yen exchange is rubbish.

I think the UK importers are making the right decision to not concentrate on this model but I worry that even the new "life style models" are still going to be questioned as to their quality / value for money.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

26 October 2011

The upcoming BRZ will make cars like the WRX very much out in the cold.Its time to make the Impreza genuinely competitive across its class and leave the BRZ to the sports model imo.

26 October 2011

[quote TegTypeR]It wouldn't be so bad if the price were more competitive (remember the original £19k car) but the Pound / Yen exchange is rubbish.[/quote]

I never believe that when the likes of Motorpoint were selling them for 6k off the UK list price. I haven't checked for a while to see who's doing them cheaply, but it's the UK importer who is being greedy.

[quote TegTypeR]I think the UK importers are making the right decision to not concentrate on this model[/quote]

They'd also have you believe that Subaru don't do the WR Blue or big rear wing any longer. Yet, in other European country's websites I found they were still running in that format. The UK importer believe that they can move the Subaru brand to one which challengies the likes of Audi - as they have previously stated they want to do.

26 October 2011

[quote Fidji]I hate to be the one to say it, but where are the gold wheels and the WR Blue Mica paint.[/quote]

Last time I looked you could get that everywhere else in Europe!

27 October 2011

It is going to be a major challenge for Subaru to move its image beyond the success of the Impreza as it is a small company.

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