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Hot Impreza hits the road

Flares are back: Unique panels set the STi apart from the regular WRX, but Australia again falls short of Japanese power outputs.

Subaru’s STi is pumped-up and headed Down Under

25 Oct 2007

SUBARU yesterday launched the pumped-up STi version of the Impreza WRX in Japan, and confirmed that the export model will be released in Australia in the first quarter of 2008.

Japanese-spec cars are powered by a high-revving 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo engine developing 227kW of power at 6400rpm and 422Nm of torque at 4400rpm, which pushes the car through a long-standing gentlemen’s agreement between the manufacturers and the Japanese government on power outputs.

Australian WRX STis will get a development of the bigger but less powerful 2.5-litre single-scroll turbo engine used for export markets, with a bigger intercooler and variable timing on both the intake and exhaust valves.

Although Subaru has not revealed power outputs for this engine, UK specifications indicate it will produce 224kW (18kW more than the current engine) and 407Nm (up 25Nm).

STi models are developed by Subaru Tecnica International (STi), the company’s motor sport division, and form the basis of the successful World Rally Championship program that in recent years has been spearheaded by former world champion Petter Solberg and Australian driver Chris Atkinson.

Although Solberg’s future is the subject of speculation, Atkinson has re-signed for 2008 and will pilot one of the new-look Imprezas in the WRC, hopefully with more success than with the troublesome current car.

As revealed in preview photos two weeks ago, the five-door STi features heavily flared wheel-arches, a massive bonnet scoop and roof-height rear spoiler, giving it the aggressive looks that enthusiasts bemoan are lacking in the standard and even WRX models.

The unique bodywork represents a considerable investment by Subaru in its performance car leader.

Subaru claims that the rear spoiler reduces aerodynamic drag while the shape of the front guards assists downforce and helps with high-speed stability.

2 center imageMechanically, the four-wheel drive STi features a limited-slip front differential, a Torsen rear LSD and a driver-adjustable centre diff that “allows the driver to enjoy handling and manoeuvring as he desires”.

Further driver choices are provided with the SI-Drive system – which even provides different power outputs according to the three settings – and the three-mode electronic stability control system.

Other features of the STi include Brembo ventilated discs, push-button start and extra body reinforcements to improve torsional rigidity.

As well as standard five-spoke 18-inch alloys (fitted with Bridgestone 245/40R18 tyres), multi-spoke BBS are among the Japanese options and, with two model variants expected to be offered in Australia for the first time in 2008, these are likely to specified on the upper model.

Luxury features like an HDD navigation system with audio capability are also likely to be part of the high model’s specifications.

The black and silver-dominated interior features sports seats jointly developed by Recaro and covered in a combination of Alcantara fabric and leather, while made-to-measure bucket seats can also be ordered by owners looking to use their car in motor sport events.

The familiar pink STi badge is prominent throughout, including on the three-spoke leather-bound steering wheel and the centre console. On the latter, the badge even illuminates when the headlights are turned on.

A large tachometer located prominently in the middle of the instrument panel, right in front of the driver, with the speedo and fuel gauge on either side, underlines that this is a serious driver’s car.

When the ignition is turned on, the needles of all three red-on-black dials swing up to their maximums before falling back down again to impart “a boost of excitement for the driver”.

Interestingly, the new Impreza STi will be launched in Australia at about the same time as its main rival, Mitsubishi’s all-new Lancer Evo X.

Read more:

Sydney show: Subaru's imprezive racer

First look: Subaru's STi gets some pump action

Subaru loses STing

First look: New Impreza gets WRCrazy

First look: STi surfaces

Subaru opens its future model pipeline

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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