11 February 2008
For quite some time the original Subaru WRX STI was the 'most
stolen' car in the country. This embarrassing statistic no longer
applies, but apart from its sheer speed and power, the sheer
exhilaration you got from driving the car generated loads of lust!
So how does the third generation model shape up? Is it a car
you'd lust after?
After that lead-up, we'll let you down slowly. The new WRX STI
is everything its predecessor promised and delivered, in terms of
power, handling and performance. What the 2008 car lacks, is the
personality of its predecessor. But, that doesn't mean it
disappoints, far from it. It's just a different car.
Subaru established new benchmarks for Version 3. In addition to
power and performance Subaru engineers set out to increase
refinement, ride quality and comfort.
In that they've succeeded, but in the process the WRX STI may
have lost its raw appeal, and brash character. But, if you want to
compare it to European sports sedans like Audi S4, or Golf R32,
the Subaru is so close it's scary.
The new car is not totally competitive with its Euro matchmates,
but apart from minor issues with interior trim materials, it's as
near as dammit.
The new WRX STI has such depth of mechanical innovation and
development that it warrants a very close look if you're in the
market for a refined, fast, exciting sports sedan. The quality of
the engineering and thought which has gone into this car is truly
The three items which contribute most to the high tech feel of
the car are Multi-Mode Driver Control Centre Differential, Subaru
Intelligent Drive and Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Centre.
Power is up 7.3 per cent; torque is up 3.8 per cent and fuel
efficiency is improved by 11.2 per cent. And, you can feel these
improvements in the driving experience. One feature of the
2.5-litre boxer engine is that variable valve timing is applied to
both intake and exhaust valves, which benefits low speed torque,
aids fuel efficiency, lowers emissions and gives better stability
at idle. There is also the ability to ‘switch fuel maps’ to
suit the driving conditions – Low speed city/Sports/Sports Plus
– all achieved by a simple rotary dial on the centre console.
The new WRX STI offers better equipment levels, smoother power
delivery, vastly better gearbox feel, improved ride quality and
impressive safety numbers. It boasts a 5-star ANCAP crash rating,
and 4-star pedestrian safety rating.
Changes to the body structure have vastly increased the
rigidity of the bodyshell, which improves roadholding, turn-in,
steering response, ride comfort and noise levels. The car is
wider, which improves cabin room, and it has a wider track for
better grip and stability. The end result of the changes is a
truly impressive car.
But, it's no longer the raw, in-your-face bitumen blaster it
once was. Subaru set out to take the raw elements, and add
sophistication to make it more appealing to considerers of Euro
sports sedans. They've succeeded, and although the new car is more
mature, it is also fast, refined and great value for money. It’s
$3000 more expensive than Version2, but you get that back in
superior engineering improvements.
The new WRX STI costs $59,990; and for something a little bit
different there’s the SpecR version which, for another $5000,
gives you leather Recaro front seats, and lightweight BBS wheels.
Marque Publishing Company