Impreza 2.5 WRX STi Type UK
mourn its passing.
Enter the new Scooby more
new rally-bred toys that make
it even more appealing than
its predecessor. And
£1,600 less than the old one...
A WHOLE GENERATION GREW UP LUSTING after a 'Scooby'
in particular the top-of-the-tree B-road master-blaster, the WRX STi. With a
rally pedigree, all-wheel drive and a potent turbocharged engine under its gaping
trademark bonnet-bulge and an affordable price its appeal was
obvious. Then, at a stroke, Subaru replaced the iconic, instantly-recognisable
(thanks to an OTT 'picnic tray' boot spoiler) three-box Impreza
with the latest generation's all-new five-door hatchback-packaged version.
Worse than that, the new car is all grown up: roomier, better finished, quieter
and more practical than the rapscallion Scooby of old. And it still gets
Initial shock from the marque's performance-loving 'faithful' at the radically
altered look (compared to the previous Impreza) soon gave way to big smiles
once they got behind the wheel and discovered that what hadn't changed was the
Scooby's competition-honed abilities. Not that the new five-door body lacks
presence: a gaping air scoop still crowns and defines the bonnet; still doing
its real-world job of forcing air into the turbocharger. Blistered front wings
stretch out over the WRX STi Type UK's widened track (45mm front and 40mm rear
wider than the standard Impreza models) and house wider 17 x 8-inch 10-spoke
alloy wheels shod with 235/45 Dunlop Sport rubber, and there's a mesh grille
and deep front bumper design with sporty vertical air vents at either side to
help cool the intercooler.
There's still a substantial rear spoiler but now thankfully it's
roof-mounted instead of boot-mounted; and no longer a hindrance to rear-view
visibility but a genuine aerodynamic component. The distinctive clear tail lights
are LED units. And don't worry no-one will mistake your range-topping
Impreza WRX STi Type UK for an everyday Subaru Impreza. Especially overtaken
drivers, who are treated to a view of four large exhaust tailpipes twinned at
either side of the body poking out from under the lower rear apron and a large
red 'STi' badge.
Swing open the new model's driver's door and you'll see that the interior has
come in for a redesign, too. The fascia is now curvy but the focus is definitely
on the driver with a set of blood red on black dials that glow intensely when
you fire-up the engine this is still a 'working' cockpit. The three-spoke
leather-wrapped steering wheel is hard but feels good in your hands and sports
a bold STi logo along with audio and cruise control buttons located on the horizontal
spokes. It also adjusts for both height and reach, with plenty of adjustment
in both planes.
The rally-style bucket seats, upholstered in leather and Alcantara, look inviting
and provide comfort and grippy support during long trips and during seriously
committed driving. The driver's seat gets height adjustment. Also on the comfort
front, the climate control dials are simple and effective and, when you're in
the mood for some non-mechanical entertainment, the hi-fi sounds good.
It may be a driving-oriented machine but that doesn't mean the range-topping
WRX STI lacks for goodies the previously mentioned climate control AirCon,
cruise control, leather and Alcantara seats, four electric windows (the driver's
has one-shot auto up/down facility) and door mirrors (with powered fold-back),
a decent sound system with a 6-disc in-dash CD autochanger and MPS input, 17-inch
alloys, Brembo brakes and HID headlamps are all standard equipment.
This new Impreza's wheelbase is actually 95mm longer than the old car, despite
being 50mm shorter nose-to-tail which contributes significantly to its new-found
'practical hatch' identity. Consequently there's plenty of room up front along
with decent room in the back helped by a comfortable backrest angle,
although there's no centre armrest. Four near-six-footer adults can travel in
this new hatchback; and for long trips, too. Behind the rear seats there's large
boot capable of taking 301 litres of luggage, and the cabin has numerous storage
cubbies and cup-holders dotted around sufficient to suit most drivers'
needs. Fold down the rear seats and the boot turns into a 1,216-litre load bay.
First 'imprezzions' are all favourable, starting with the ride quality which
in turn makes the new Scooby a much, much easier car to live with on a daily
basis. Given its sanitised new image the most important question, at least for
marque enthusiasts is, How does it handle?
No worries here, guys. The Scooby has long been revered as a 'giant slayer'
that for not much money (comparatively speaking) could give almost any supercar
a hard run for its money getting from A to B, in particular on B-roads. Not
forgetting, of course, its successes on the world's most demanding rally stages.
As we said no worries.
The STi sits on a well-honed chassis that makes excellent use of rally-derived
know-how, including a centre viscous-coupling and limited-slip differentials
front and rear to share grip front-to-rear and side-to-side, constantly adjusting
for maximum road-holding.
Like its predecessor, the new generation Scooby also features some 'trick' features
principally the now-improved Driver's Control Centre Differential (DCCD)
that, via a switch, allows the driver to manually select the torque distribution
front to rear. For example, you can choose between having sharper cornering
turn-in or more stable straight-line running. The system reverts to automatic
mode every time the ignition is switched off.
In Manual mode the driver can adjust the front to rear torque distribution through
varying degrees to suit different road conditions such as loose gravel or soft
snow. The upgraded system fitted to the new Impreza WRX STi also allows the
selection of three different 'Auto' modes. Auto mode is selected when the engine
is started and is fine for most road conditions.
To improve traction on slippery roads the driver can use the Auto+ (plus) mode,
which shares out the torque more evenly between all four driven wheels to enhance
straight-line stability. Alternatively, the driver can use Auto- (minus) to
increase agility, which it does by enhancing steering response by way of less
Despite its much more pliant ride courtesy of the new set-up featuring
a multi-link double wishbone rear suspension the STi has an astonishing
ability to maintain handling composure in the face of quite extreme provocation.
There's a tad of body roll in corners but in no way enough to compromise the
car's amazing grip when attacking fast bends and second gear corners. This new
STi also favours the less skilled: just about anybody can drive this new Scooby
easily at a very hard pace indeed.
Also new to the WRX STi is Subaru's Si-Drive system. This gives the driver three
different engine-response programmes at the turn of a switch, with 'Super-Sharp'
mode giving the ultimate in throttle response.
The rack-and-pinion speed-sensitive power steering is reassuringly accurate
and more than good enough for flowing 'no-fear' entry and exits through quick
bends and corners and the more speed you feed in, the more committed
its tracking feels through the chosen line.
You'll be glad of all the commitment you can get with this new Scooby because
the 2,457cc turbocharged all-alloy flat-four 'boxer' engine has been heavily
revised aimed at providing more flexibility alongside the increased 'wallop'.
Installed lower in the chassis (to be precise: the front of the engine is 22mm
lower than before with the differential centre down by 10mm) to improve the
centre of gravity is a revised version of the previous model's 2.5-litre turbocharged
powerplant. A larger intercooler has been fitted to force more cold air through
the turbo and increases power. The new STi's bhp and torque are both better:
up by 19bhp and 11lb ft respectively to 296bhp and 300lb ft at 4,000rpm.
The performance figures speak for themselves: 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds and a 155mph
top speed. The terms 'hot' and 'hatch' are very much in sync here. However,
the first time you drive the STi it doesn't actually feel as potent as you expect
close to 300bhp to feel. The culprit turned out to be the standard 'sport' throttle
response setting of the Si-Drive system. What you really want is the 'Super-Sharp'
setting. Select that, and when your right foot goes down hard the turbo will
wind up like a tornado while keeping you firmly on the ground.
You'll also be glad of the STi's powerful Brembo brakes four-pot callipers
at the front and two-pot at the rear; with ventilated discs all round. Initial
pedal feel is hard; but then they're scrubbing off the speed in a manner that
leaves you in no doubt as to their ability to ensure the Scooby stops as quickly
as it goes.
Pottering around amongst the other traffic this flat-four's 296bhp can feel
almost lazy. However, spool up the engine to around 4,000rpm and its character
changes radically; be warned at that point you'll need your hand ready
on the gearknob if you're to change up and maintain your linear charge before
the rev-limiter cuts in sharply at 6,700rpm. Talking of gear changing, the six-speed
manual 'box benefits from a shorter throw and lighter action.
No doubt there will be a few who will bemoan the STi's £24,995 price tag. But
only until they realise that at a fiver under £25K it's actually a substantial
£1,600 less than the previous model, making this latest-generation Scooby a
genuine performance bargain. Even when you find out that insurance is Group
19 and the 243g/km CO2 emissions will cost you £400 a year road tax, it won't
cool your ardour.
Given the performance available, fuel consumption is no way as bad as you may
have expected: during our week's road test the WRX STi averaged 23.6mpg
although hardcore driving bouts will cost you at the pumps. For the record,
the official fuel consumption figures are 20.5, 27.4 and 34.4mpg respectively
for urban, combined and extra-urban.
Nice to know in a car that 'flies' that there's plenty to keep you safe in an
accident. It goes without saying that the full-time all-wheel drive is a major
plus factor in the safety stakes as, too, is the ABS with Electronic
Brakeforce Distribution. And Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control system that allows
the driver to select the best settings for the prevailing road conditions. You'll
be pleased to know that, if the worst should ever happen, there are front, side
and curtain airbags to cushion the blow.
Sure, there are other desirable hot hatches on the market but when it comes
to delivering more pace and grip for your money, the World Rally Championship
look-alike WRX STi Type UK is sure to satisfy both Subaru traditionalists and
also new converts to the brand. MotorBar
Subaru impreza 2.5 WRX STi Type UK | £24,995
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
Overall test MPG: 23.6mpg | Power: 296bhp | Torque: 300lb ft
CO2 243g/km | VED Band G £400 | Insurance group 19