From £31,550
Larger engine makes STi faster again, but overall package starting to show its age.

Our Verdict

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

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.
19 October 2005

The instructions were simple: ‘Leave the hotel, turn right and follow the road to the coast.’ Yet I’m lost already, trying to retrace my tracks and get back on course. Then I spot a sign I recognise – Col de Vence – a plateaux 963 metres above sea level and accessed via a phenomenal twisting mountain road, at times used in the Monte Carlo rally. Subaru’s recommended route notes are jettisoned to the back seat as quickly as the throttle hits its stop.Having updated the STi’s suspension only last year, Subaru has left the dampers as is, instead tweaking the drivetrain with faster-acting centre and front differentials, and a second yaw sensor. Over the route’s many left-right flicks there is now more directness to the turn-in and the STi feels lighter and more agile.But passing the summit something’s missing from the typical Impreza experience. The signature off-beat engine rumble is noticeably muted; a casualty of new equal-length manifolds fitted for better economy and emissions. There is some compensation, as the new STi gets a larger 2.5-litre four-cam flat-four engine producing 19bhp more than the outgoing 2.0 litre. Although the increase in outright punch is not staggering, pick-up from lower revs is improved and the transition between on- and off-boost now less sudden.Fifty rapid miles on and the STi sits cooling in the car park. No question, it remains a magnificent device, especially on roads like this, but when the driving is done cracks soon appear in its appeal. This facelift, the third for the Impreza, adds an aggressive new nose, which works on the STi but sits rather oddly on the less-extreme models. And the new WRC details – roof spoiler, rear diffuser and crystal rear lights – look somewhat crass, leaving the Impreza missing the purity of its original design.The car’s mechanicals may feel robust and technically advanced, but despite this latest update, the rest of the car is dated and outclassed. The cabin design, packaging, materials and finish are simply not good enough for a car at this price.The STi remains one of the great driver’s cars, now even better than before, but viewed outside this narrow remit the picture is less rosy. The Impreza architecture is now five years old and the game has moved on. For Subaru, 2007 – when the all-new model is expected – can’t come soon enough.Jamie Corstorphine

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK