It seems like only yesterday when the last WRX STI was sold in the UK amid an outcry of sentiment on the sad loss of this iconic model. Well in the last couple of years that all changed with the launch at the start of the 2014 summer of the latest WRX STi model and at the end of last year Gormley Motors in Dungannon gave us the chance to drive one to see what we thought.
Now for me as a huge Subaru fan, I have driven all WRX STi’s from the first one produced and must admit the thought of there never being another was somewhat of a blunt end to every boys dream car, so it was great to get to grips with the latest model on a dry winters afternoon.
During development, Subaru honed the drive-ability of the new WRX STI to perfection, testing it under a wide variety of conditions around the world. As with past generations of the model, extensive testing also took place on Germany’s Nürburgring circuit to ensure the WRX STI is the pinnacle of Subaru AWD sports performance.
At its heart is a 2.5 litre turbo-charged Subaru Boxer four-pot engine, which in STI guise, produces 305hp and 290lb/ft of torque. The six-speed gearbox has been reinforced and now adopts even shorter throw and slicker, sportier shift feel.
Subaru’s trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive employs the latest vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and Active Torque Vectoring for maximum control and driver engagement. Spring and damper rates have been meticulously re-tuned to provide a more compliant ride while retaining body composure, and the electronic power steering is now mounted on a more rigid steering gearbox mount for improved fuel efficiency and more ‘direct’ feel and response.
An increase in wheelbase of 25mm gives the new WRX STI greater rear leg room as well as more shoulder and elbow room inside the cabin, without increasing the exterior dimensions. By moving the bottom of the A-pillars forward by 200mm and adding a quarter light to the front window, drivers have better visibility all round. Boot space is increased and ingress and egress are improved with larger door apertures.
A lot of work has also gone into improving the perceived quality of the WRX STI interior. For the new model, highlights include a new D-shaped steering wheel of smaller diameter and designed to give the driver maximum feel. Soft touch materials are used in key areas while new dials, carbon effect and metal trim are also employed to give the STI both a suitably sporty feel and more upmarket ambiance.
Equipment wise the WRX STi has a plethora of features to highlight what the car is about which include the rear spoiler and bonnet vent standing out like a streaker on sports day along with the quad exit exhausts poking from the rear bumper diffuser, it most certainly mean business. Behind the 18inch wheels are a set of 17inch brake discs which let’s face it, most new cars these days don’t even have alloys that are 17inch so they are more than capable.
Body colour options are limited to Black, Grey, White and the infamous Blue that Subaru is renowned for. LED head and tail lamps come as standard along with electric folding heated mirrors so it is moving towards some comfort compared to its early predecessors.
Inside, the cabin is clad with Leather and Alcantara with coloured stitching and flashes of colour on the seats, I must say it has a good quality feel when in the driving position and looks very up to date which is welcomed, the seats were firm and as expected, unbelievably supportive thus encouraging you into an aggressive drive as you know fine well that your bum nor upper body are sliding anywhere.
The WRX STi is as happy being a family steed as it is ripping up the back roads or race tracks as it comes with a great six speaker audio system with mp3 device input and Bluetooth connectivity, ISOFIX child seat anchors, rear door child locks and for added safety whiplash reducing seats and hill start assist. With such a good spec as standard there are limited options with Leather seats and Sat-Nav being the main.
The boot is very healthy and compared to rivals is comfortably between the Golf R and the Octavia vRS so in layman’s terms a decent size that’s able to cope with golf clubs or a week’s luggage for a family or indeed a buggy. The rear seats split and fold for a larger loading space should it be required.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable place to be and when required extremely rapid to boot with a hell of a lot of practicality and now that they are coming onto a year old there could be a few ex demonstrator models about that could be great value.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry