2018 Subaru WRX Sti Premium

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2017 Subaru WRX  STi

Sti(ll) A Good Buy

Rally honed, turbocharged, all-wheel drive technology doesn’t come any cheaper than the Subaru WRX STi which starts in price at $50,850…. about the same as Ford’s Focus RS and a bit less than the VW Golf R. There’s always the `lesser’ Sooby WRX but the STi is a significant step up on the humble `Rex’ on many fronts not the least being performance.

POWER TO THE GROUND

A growing number of front wheel drive hot hatches are barking at this trio’s heels but they simply can’t put power to the ground like an all-wheel drive.

The STi has been around for decades having been forged in the fierce furnace of World Rally Championship competition back when they drove relatively big cars.

REPUTATION

It has earned a huge reputation among the `hot fours’ fraternity due to its performance and handling along with that distinctive boxer `voice’ rumbling out the back.

Subaru recently upgraded the STi (and WRX) with a new look inside and out, extra features and other changes to improve value and bolster performance and handling. The info’ screen grows to 6.0-inches and includes hard wired satnav. Audio is by Harman Kardon.

It’s safer too with a broader application of Subaru’s excellent EyeSight, camera-based driver assist technology of which there is plenty.

The STi is offered in three variants including a Spec R model (R for Recaro seats).

19-INCH WHEELS

For the first time, the STi gets 19-inch wheels with sticky rubber and garish, fluoro yellow, Brembo front six piston brake calipers.

LED foggies make an appearance along with adaptive headlights, cross drilled front discs and revised suspension.

Power comes from a 2.5-litre turbo four cylinder petrol engine that’s been around for some time. It achieves 221kW/407Nm output while consuming 11.2-litres/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle.

Though no lightweight at roughly 1550kg, the STi feels nimble and responsive in power delivery and dynamic capability.

QUICK-ISH

The steering is sharp, throttle response is immediate and the brakes are sensational. It will clock a sub 6.0 second 0-100kmh sprint but the real strength lies in roll on acceleration at speed.

Though the suspension is set-up for sporty driving I think it’s a tad on the soft side in the maximum Sport Sharp driving mode.

A number of switches allow the driver to play with powertrain set-up but I found it made little difference when you are `on it’ around a series of fast corners.

The STi pulls strongly to redline at about 6500rpm and even has a slight torque steer effect when full boost is achieved when you’re cornering at a slow speed.

THE BRAKES

Nothing to say about the brakes except superb. Never fade, no noise, great pedal feel, minimal dust.

I found the close ratio six speed ‘box easy to use but the clutch lacked feel tending to pop up from the floor. You get used to it.

There’s a satisfying rumble from the quad tip exhaust on the throttle over-run but it could do with a bit more snap, crackle and pop.

IT’S A FOUR DOOR

Being a practical four door sedan has benefits and that include a roomy interior and large boot. The STi is equipped to near luxury car level and features plenty of goodies to make you feel good.

I am not really a fan of the styling except to say it is distinctive and could be an improvement with the latest model.

But you can’t argue about the value equation as the STi is a lot of car for not a lot of money. It’s out of a Japanese factory too and that counts for a lot in my mind (and others).

Choosing between the Focus RS, Golf R and this car is difficult. They’re all about the same money and all offer an engaging drive feel.  Take ‘em for a test drive and you’ll soon make your decision.

SPECS

Engine: 2.5-litre, turbocharged, boxer four cylinder petrol 221kW/407Nm

Transmission: 6-speed manual, AWD

Performance: 0-100kmh approx. 5.5 seconds

Weight: 1550kg

Fuel consumption: 11.2 litres/100km

Safety: 5 star

80/100

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