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?
It’s the Subaru Impreza Litchfield Type-20, a Subaru Impreza STi made to go faster. But with a bit of a difference.
Specialist importer and tuner Litchfield’s Type-20 is based on the Japanese domestic version of the Impreza and it’s meant to compete with the fastest variants of Mitsubishi’s Evo X. It generates 394bhp.
Because the Type-20 is based on the Japanese Impreza rather than the UK one, it has a 2.0-litre engine rather than a 2.5.
Despite the 2.0-litre unit’s smaller capacity, it is very over-engineered and can actually deliver more power reliably than the 2.5.
The 2.0-litre unit forms the basis for Subaru’s WRC and Group N rally cars. Litchfield has previously had a 2.0-litre race car delivering 600bhp; that sort of output would melt the 2.5.
Litchfield’s modifications to make the Type-20 hit its 394bhp and 375lb ft run deep. There’s ECU remapping, a new induction system, a modified exhaust and a brand new bespoke turbocharger.
There are also a raft of suspension changes, aimed at sharpening the Impreza’s responses and releasing some of its potential, without ruining the comfort.
What’s it like?
It’s really very good. The suspension changes are evident straight away. Japanese-spec Imprezas get a faster steering rack anyway, but it’s the modifications that make it feel much, much sharper than the standard UK car.
Litchfield has specified firmer bushes, there’s also a front strut brace, lighter wheels and increased castor angles. The springs and (adjustable) dampers and anti-roll bars have also been uprated.
The effect is startling. The STi is firmer and much better controlled, without any great loss in comfort. The whole thing feels drawn-in and tightened.
The steering is direct, has good feel and pleasing accuracy. There’s still some body lean, but it’s more tightly contained, there’s good grip, little understeer and even a touch of line-tightening throttle adjustability.
The power delivery, meanwhile, is excellent. There’s lag at low revs, but this car revs to 8000rpm and its peak power is made at 7500rpm. It’s proper fast. Litchfield reckons less than four seconds to 60mph. It makes a fruity rasp too, and is every inch as impressive as the highest-rated Evo Xs.
Oh, and in the pictures you might notice what Litchfield calls Maserati-style rear lights; they have red rather than clear lenses and aren’t dissimilar to a Maserati GranTurismo’s. It’s quite possibly the first time an aftermarket light unit has looked less aftermarket than original-fit items.
Should I buy one?
The Litchfield Type-20 is expensive compared with UK Imprezas, but its power is impressive and the chassis can match it. At last this is a new-generation Impreza that’s as enjoyable and capable as the hotter Evo Xs.
If you don’t want the whole Type-20 experience, most of the components are available on UK cars, so the chassis changes (except for the steering rack’s quickness) are all available independently.
And those rear lights are worth having at any cost.