Three stars out of five and no place among our class top five. Sounds harsh for a car that brought a smile from everyone who took the keys.

The Subaru WRX STI remains a charismatic, exciting driver’s car with enough attitude and aggression to whet anyone’s appetite.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Subaru WRX STI really needs an optional limited-slip differential at the rear

But next to the highly developed hot hatches, the Subaru’s old-school performance routine isn’t cutting it. Its rivals now deliver driveability, accessibility and ease of use hand in hand with speed and thrills, making this Subaru not nearly rounded enough or quite fast enough.

Nor is it as precise or rewarding on the limit as the best fast hatches that Europe offers, such as the Ford Focus RS or the Volkswagen Golf R.

What the STI needs is an up-to-date, intuitive cabin and a complete technical and mechanical overhaul. Subaru needs the confidence to charge at least 50 percent more for this car – to dare to rule the roost once more.

As things stand, the Impreza STI is being left behind.

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