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Headline:FastSaloons.com Subaru Impreza STi PPP Road TestDate:03/02/2005
Source:FastSaloons.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:FastSaloons.com Subaru Impreza STi type-UK Prodrive performance pack Road Test  
 
 

FastSaloons.com
Review

 

Subaru Impreza WRX STi Type UK Prodrive Performance Pack



Our Thoughts
The longest name ever?

With the Evo FQ-340 top of our FastSaloons league how does
its bitter rival compare?


 
   
 

Background

Subaru faced intense criticism when it launched the new look Impreza in 2000. Its looks were just too much for people to bear. Enthusiasts reckoned the car had lost it's edge too. The result was that Subaru hastily remodelled the car into the guise we see it today. More importantly, however, they have been continually improving the driver parts too.

The last iteration of these changes comes with the 2005 revision. The changes are not superficial.

The 2005 STi gets a heavily revised chassis with a longer wheelbase (10mm) and wider track (15mm). There are major suspension geometry and caster angle changes (raised by 1.5degrees). Spring and damper rates have been retuned and the front and rear lateral links are now made of aluminium to reduce the cars unsprung weight. Finally the anti-roll bars are now bigger, further reducing roll and increasing handling sensitivity.

Even the front axle hub units and housings have been redesigned to improve the capacity of the wheel bearings. The rear differential has also been tuned by uprating the cushion rubber again to give greater handling stability.

The steering has been worked on too, with the addition of a cannon mount-type on the steering gearbox. The result is more precise steering that gives more feedback. A special damper has also been added which reduces kickback during hard cornering or when you're on a less than flat road.

The STi gets a new helical front limited-slip differential (LSD). This new LSD is faster than the previous one and improves steering stability when cornering near the limit. It also improves low-traction steering where it reduces the amount of side-to-side tug.

Also added is a driver's control centre differential (DCCD). This switch is mounted next to the handbrake and allows the driver to manually select the torque distribution front to rear. This allows the car to be tuned for the conditions for example: to give sharper turn in or a more stable straight-line run.

The addition of a yaw rate sensor also enhances the cars balance between good turn-in and straight-line stability.

Final enahancement are: More rigid steering and front suspension mountings; wider wheels now measuring 17'x8' (225/45 tyres) and improved aerodynamics thanks to engine and floor covers.

 

1st Impressions - Exterior Styling

 


Even from the side the car looks poised to pounce
Whilst the Impreza will still never win any beauty contests, the car is an impressive site. From the large intercooler vent on the bonnet to the flared wheel arches and gold alloys with Brembo brake callipers showing through to the less than subtle rear wing.

The car we tested was in the traditional Subaru racing blue mated with traditional gold Sti wheels. You really get the feeling that with the addition of a few stickers you could have yourself a proper WRC car. I actually like the car from the front, it is now nicely finished off and the bug-eyed memories are long-gone.

Pink has never quite worked for me but in this day of conformance I like the fact Subaru have stuck with it as the mark of their performance flagship. So our car has a pink STi badge on its front grille, pink STi transfers on its fog lamp covers and the pink STi (type UK) badge on its rear too.

It's hard to say which is more in your face, from the large bonnet scoop to the large wing. Both are non-apologetic about the cars pretensions. Function definitively decides the form on this car. As I mentioned in the background, the 2005 model gets a thorough going over but you'd be hard pressed to see any of it from the cars exterior. Everything has been done out of sight and the car looks identical to its last incarnation.

 

Interior Styling

  Inside the Subaru the blue theme continues with the seats getting blue suede-effect centre section with large pink STi logos. The outside side supports are black and even these are in an enhanced 'more grippy' material new to the 2005 models. The seats themselves are very comfortable and hug you appropriately, ensuring all the right messages are sent to your brain.
 


Blue inside too. and one or two pink logos
In front of you a new three spoke steering wheel with red stitching and of course the Pink STi logo in its centre, sits between you and the blue tinted dash. The tachometer takes centre stage with the largest dial, indicating a 7,250 rpm rev limit, which is more than enough. To the right is the speedometer graduated up to 160mph (the car has an official top speed of c.155mph). To the left the dial is split into two; displaying the fuel level and engine temperature. The layout is clear and suits the rest of the interior.

The interior is still not in the same league as many of the other saloons in the same price bracket but it certainly is a lot nearer than previous models. The controls are reasonably well placed and all make for a logical layout.

The pedal position works well for me so to the gear stick, which fits well in your hand. The action of both is pretty much as you'd expect. To the left of the handbrake is a new button, the driver's control centre differential (DCCD) switch I mentioned earlier. This switch effectively allows the driver (or perhaps a passenger with a death wish) to change where the car places its torque. In practice it's hard to see how you'd use this on the road but it certainly adds to the 'special piece of kit' feel of the car. Similarly I have the same feelings about the switch that sprays water onto the intercooler. Both have huge posing potential though.

The rear gets blue trimmed seats and good legroom for the size of car. The overall feeling in the back is that there is a not huge amount of room, but it is usable and you should not get many complaints from the rear (other than about your driving).

 
 

Ride, Handling & Steering

 



Balanced and easy to play with
My initial reactions to the car is how relatively refined the car is. Subaru have moved things on and so the car is no longer a raw rally machine.

Ride is firm but surprisingly forgiving. The car does insulate you from the road surface but there is still enough information being fed back to the driver.

Steering is less frantic than its main rival, the Mitsubishi Evo. This tends to make the car feel less dynamic, bigger and less agile. But the flip side of this is that things are a little more relaxed for the driver. Which is certainly good news for your nerves and driving licence as it allows you to drive it without the red rag in your mouth, something the Evo on the whole doesn't.

The car handles as well as you expect for an evolution of a rally legend. There is a tendency for the car to understeer when you start to commit yourself into corner. Once you adapt to this, you start to attack corners more and the car becomes neutral. Push even harder and the rear obliges by drifting out.

When you do take things to more extremes the car feels slightly more raw than the Evo. This is down to the clever electronics, which can be felt in the Evo, and whilst they are always affecting the car in a positive way you are aware that you are not alone. The Subaru in comparison feels more natural - you feel more on your own, more in control. Both cars have excellent balance and can be chucked around with surprising amounts of confidence even for us more mortal drivers.

 

Engine, Gearbox and Performance

  The Standard Subaru Impreza WRX STi Type UK produces 261(.5) bhp at 6,000rpm (195 Kw) and 253lb ft (343 Nm) of torque at 4,000rpm. This propels the car to 60 mph in 5.2secs and pushes onto a top speed of 151mph.

 



301bhp / 299lb ft / 4.6secs to 60mph and 12.2secs to 100mph
However the car we are testing takes advantage of the £1,995 Prodrive-developed performance pack. For your extra £2k and 2.5 hours without the car (the time it takes to fit the kit) you get an additional 40bhp (up to 301bhp /224 kw) and a further 46lb ft of torque (299lb ft /405 Nm). As a result 0-60mph is achieved over half a second quicker (in 4.6secs), 0-100mph is reached in 12.2secs and top speed is quoted as “exceeds” 155mph. Sounds a bargain!

The power comes from a motoring icon the 1994cc horizontally opposed four-cam, 16-valve “boxer” engine. The engine gets Subaru’s Active Valve Control System that uses variable valve timing to ensure maximum engine response through out the rev-range.

Like my initial impressions of the ride, the first impressions of the car’s engine was how relatively refined it felt compared to my own STi and the Evos that we have tested. It is certainly a car most people could live with day to day. There was no mistaking the characteristic Impreza burble, even though it was quieter than I was expecting (again compared to my own STi with its aftermarket exhaust). But it still was a great noise - probably the best 4-cylinder noise of them all? The boxer engine is certainly more memorable than most, and definitely more distinctive than the Evo engines.

Power delivery like all other aspects of the car is actually quite subtle. The turbo spools up gradually and once “on song” the car explodes up the road. Performance is impressive and you will not need to worry about many other cars on the road.

To go with the engine is a close ratio six speed box which has a reasonable action and seems to match the engine ensuring full power is extracted.

Full figures listed below (note the tests were taken in the damp):

 
Acceleration0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100
Subaru Impreza WRX Sti (type uk) PPP (2005 (05 - ))
(4.6)

(12.2)
Subaru Impreza WRX Sti (type uk) PPP (2005 (05 - ))
FastSaloons.com

(1.89)

(3.03)

(4.02)

(5.55)

(6.95)

(8.97)

(10.93)

(13.53)
*All FastSaloons.com stats are performed on private roads and repeated several times with the average displayed.

 

Practicality

 


Reasonable boot, reasonable rear legroom and 3 years Free Servicing
There are no official economy figures for the Prodrive performance pack. So you'll need to base your expectations on values recorded for the STi Type-UK. Which has economy figures of: 18.2mpg under urban, 33.2 mpg under extra urban and a resultant combined figure of 25.4 mpg.

Emission wise the normal Sti type-uk achieves 265g/km.

As we noted the car is pretty useable in that the rear of the car is perfectly able to seat 3 adults. The boot at <> is also practical.

Insurance wise the car is not going to be cheap you have to pay for the performance somewhere.

But on a positive note Subaru has responded to running costs concerns and so the car gets a 3 year or 60k mile warranty and a reasonable 12k mile service interval. In fact Subaru have now gone one step further, so if you buy a new Subaru between 1st February to 30th April you will get free servicing for the warranty period e.g. 3 years / 36 miles. This is obviously very attractive on a normal car, let alone a high performance one.

 

Conclusion

  When we reviewed the Mitsubishi Evo MR FQ-340 we struggled to come up with direct rivals. In fact the only one was the Impreza Sti PPP. In reality this car is almost neck and neck with the MR FQ-300 that is priced slightly higher at £28,995 (the Sti type-UK PPP cost £27,990). The Subaru does have more rivals in the fact it spreads its abilities wider. It can compete against the Evo but can also be driven day to day and therefore competes with more traditional saloons. Albeit the performance ones and most of those come without all-wheel drive.

For me I still prefer the Mitsubishi Evo it is undiluted, rawer in power and more direct in its action. This is the real world though and the reality is that it would begin to grate on your nerves; especially on the days you really don't want to drive (they do exist, even for me). So the Evo remains an enthusiast's car, a car for someone willing to take the rough with the rough.

The Subaru on the other hand, by offering a mixture of comfort and performance will attract more buyers. Those buyers unwilling to compromise completely for the performance. Or as I found those who just prefer the drive of the Sti. And ultimately when you include in the decision making process the current deal of free servicing it really is hard not to be sold on the Subaru.

 
Neil
 
 
Related Links:         
Announcement of free 3 year servicing

Announcement of 2005 revisions

Full Set of Photos taken during the test

Discuss this review in our forums

Subaru's UK website

Quick Section Links:         
1. Background
2. Exterior Styling
3. Interior Styling
4. Ride, Handling and Steering
5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
6. Practicality
7. Conclusion









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