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? A Subaru Impreza STi that puts the official Subaru WRX STi PPP in the shade. With ‘around 350bhp’ and at least 355lb ft (figures have yet to be confirmed, but it feels like every bit this much) it offers more power than the official Prodrive-fettled car, and yet is still offered with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. The Impreza CZS is the work of both David Hendry Cars – Wiltshire-based dealer in Subarus for over 20 years – and Japanese firm Zero/Sports, which does nothing but soup-up Subarus. Which means they’re pretty good at it.What’s it like? The car we drove was a Japanese-spec STi with pretty much every option under the sun – carbonfibre Gurney Flap, top spoiler fins, triple-meter hood and Defi dials, World Leaguer exhaust, full aero kit, Super Direct flow kit, V Effector & earth kit, WRC crank pulley, Cool radiator, intercooler duct hose, 1.3K radiator cap and 18-inch PF7 alloys with Toyo T1R tyres. Phew. What all that means is that it looks like a thug with a bad attitude, goes like stink and sounds bonkers. We loved it. The CSZ pulls effortlessly from low revs – chuck it in fourth at 20mph and it’ll still roll away cleanly, but it’s the brutal acceleration that most impresses. Floor it in second and there’s only the briefest of moments before you are hurtling towards the horizon, accompanied by a delicious cacophony of fluttering and whooshing as the turbo spools up, and the angry burbling of the exhaust. Back off and there’s a ferocious and equally pleasing gushing from the wastegate. The handling is predictably good, the standard adjustable centre diff seeming to eliminate understeer, while the Toyo tyres provide plenty of grip.Should I buy one? We still generally think the standard WRX is a little sweeter than the STi, but if you want a nutty Impreza that’s different from (and arguably better than) the more usual STi Prodrive cars, but still want the security of a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, this is just the job. See dhcars.co.uk. Rory Lumsdon