MotorMartin has spoken before about the good folk down at Nathaniel Cars, Bridgend, a dealership that holds franchises for Subaru, Mitsubishi and MG whilst also offering a wide range of quality used cars on site. Pretty much something for everyone then. The pleasing thing for MotorMartin with regards to Nathaniel Cars, is the excellent customer service and knowledge on offer from the friendly staff as a quick call to 01656 20662277 will confirm. Indeed, it was a friendly call from Nathaniel Cars that allowed MotorMartin to play out some World Rally Championship fantasies recently in the Subaru WRX STI that you can see in the pictures accompanying this review.
Subaru fans are a loyal and rather fanatical bunch, with many keeping hold of older WRX Impreza models for a considerable number of years. There can’t be that many performance car fans that would react with such strength of mind and passion as when Subaru rather miscalculated their 2007 revamp of the venerable WRX STI and brought out a hatchback rather than the expected and traditional saloon. Despite all the contemporary reports suggesting that the STI was a fantastic car and one that more than held it’s head up in a fight, a must for Subaru fans, it just wasn’t the success that Subaru were looking for. Indeed, even those who wouldn’t normally get involved in such a debate were looking at the 2007 model and asking if Subaru had forgotten what had made the Impreza so impressive in the first place.
Fast forward a few years and Subaru have most definitely made up for any and all previous mistakes with the release of the extremely rapid, gorgeous looking, proper WRX STI with this, the all new 2015 edition. And what a return to form it is. First impressions leave you in no doubt as to the purpose of the Subaru, from it’s iconic front bonnet scoop and aggressive rear spoiler to the powerful profile provided by the flared wheel arches and side skirts, this is a car that provides you with the expected intimidating presence on the road and is one of the reasons why you pick the WRX over the competition in the first place. Styling wise, in MotorMartin’s opinion, Subaru have got this generation of STI absolutely spot on. I love the deep front spoiler and enormous, downforce generating rear spoiler, whilst the 18-inch Dark Gun-metallic Aluminium Alloy Wheels look fantastic. The front grill and LED Headlamps with an Auto Leveliser function, combine to create a menacing front end that metaphorically shoves cars out of the way when you arrive at their rear bumper, mix that view with the aforementioned bonnet scoop and you have a ticked all the boxes when designing the perfect WRX STI. Impressive indeed.
Technologically speaking, it really doesn’t get any better that the STI. Subaru themselves state that: No other car drives like it, because nothing else is built likeit. Every Subaru is engineered with a deep commitment to you as a driver. Each has the power to put your mind at ease, and to enhance every aspect of your driving experience. The engineering insights that make a vehicle a Subaru make it reassuring, more versatile and more exciting. That’s why, among other advanced performance technologies, the all-new WRX STI is built with the one-of-a-kind Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system at its core. As its balanced, low-centre-of-gravity drivetrain bites the asphalt with all four wheels, acceleration intensifies, your confidence expands, and every corner ignites a new passion for driving. The thing is though, aside from some addition dials here and there, some flashier seat and interior trip and the unique steering wheel, when you sit in the WRX for the first time, it could almost be any other normal, everyday saloon, there’s even three rear seats with decent levels of legroom for goodness sake.
That’s the trick with the Subaru, you have a practical everyday family car with five seats and a more than decent 460 litre boot capacity, yet under the bonnet is a 2.5 litre, horizontally-opposed, 4-cylinder, 4-stroke, high-boost turbocharged (with large capacity intercooler), petrol engine that has the potential to take you to hell and back very quickly. After all, this is an engine that in standard form provides you with a considerable 300PS at 6000rpm and 300 ft lb torque at 4000rpm, all of which launches you with some ferocity from 0-62mph in a mind warping 5.2 seconds, ouch. On the M4, just outside of Bridgend and a roll on test from 60mph gives a hint of the easily accessible power available, pop the WRX into Sport Sharp Mode (S#), drop the Subaru down through the incredibly slick six speed gearbox, blink and you’re suddenly travelling at 70ish mph (ahem). There’s power everywhere through out the rev range and it’s usable, floor it, allow the clever electronics to do their job and you could be competing in your own rally and, in MotorMartin’s head, winning. The only problem with the engine is that the acceleration available is just so very, very addictive.
This engine is a classic, mixing the sensible easygoing nature that modern drivers demand for pottering to the shops and back or commuting and yet, close by at all times are volcanic levels of raucous, World Rally Championship developed levels of power for when the mood or the roads dictate. As I said, this engine is an absolute, genuine, 100%, classic.
For a company and a car, in the form of the Impreza, that have six World Rally Championship titles and 46 outright rally wins to their name, you have every right to expect this all new WRX STI to use all of their experience when it comes to the handling. Active Torque Vectoring technology allows you to push the Subaru closer to the limit, especially when turning into a corner where clever electronics can route power to select wheels to help you keep your intended line. More clever design has also created what Subaru call their Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a system that offers stability and agility whilst inspiring confidence when behind the wheel. The unique design of this system means that the electronics make sure that power is efficiently delivered to all four wheels at all times for enhanced control on all roads and in poor conditions, creating a low centre of gravity for even more responsiveness from the chassis. I’ll leave the final words to Subaru themselves when they say: The unique advantages of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive make for exceptionally rewarding handling and empower you to better avoid danger.
What you notice most from the driving seat is how much grip all of these clever functions give you when out on the road. The Subaru flatters even the slower drivers amongst us whilst allowing for mistakes without throwing itself into the hedgerow. Clever stuff. As expected, the STI holds the road exceptionally well with its race developed suspension giving a ride quality, whilst on the sportier side of things, that is in no way uncomfortable and allows you to travel distances without pain.
Overall, MotorMartin’s drive around the mixed roads surrounding Bridgend, South Wales, highlighted so many positives surrounding this Subaru WRX STI. The engine and handling are from a different level to most and make you feel like your own driving is quite phenomenal as well. The race derived technology really works when out on the road, yes it can be so, so fast but it also does the sensible as well. Cabin space, boot space, ride quality, all suggest that this really is a supercar that can be used as a daily driver and with the number of older Impreza still on the roads today, it certainly seems that MotorMartin is not alone in thinking this. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that my afternoon in the Subaru will be remembered for a long time to come.
With a starting price of £29,995, a claimed 27.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 242 g/kg, the STI is perhaps more affordable than you may have first thought, indeed a quick call to Nathaniel Cars of Bridgend reveals that the WRX could be on your driveway from approximately £299 a month but you’ll have to move fast as Nathaniel Cars have explained to MotorMartin that only 300 of these incredible cars will be coming to the UK. Best make that call sooner rather than later then.
MotorMartin absolutely loves it!
Where will you go?