WRX STI TYPE R
Souped-up two door is far more than the sum of its limited-edition parts
WE ALL know the story of Subaru Australia importing a batch of 400 first-gen STis and promising there’d be no more. What it meant, of course, was that there’d be no more two-door STis because the batch of 400 four-doors was almost already on the water. Cue outraged two-door buyers.
But what Subaru Oz couldn’t get its hand on was this car, the Type R which was a souped-up version of the STi. This particular car is a Version 6, bears an MY00 build-date and is one of just 1000 examples worldwide.
Over a ‘standard’ STi, the Type R got the roof vent, the active (DCCD in Suby-speak) centre diff (which Australian-delivered STis wouldn’t see until 2005) a bigger turbocharger, shorter gearing, a quicker steering ratio, no sound deadening and a weighbridge ticket of just 1260kg. Combine that with the 206kW that was the mandated limit by the Japanese authorities (and was starting to be sniggered at) and you were talking a serious weapon at the turn of the century. Still is, in fact.
This car is one of maybe three or four in the country and they’re all, obviously, grey imports. If you’re anything like me, the first-gen WRX is the one. To my way of thinking, this – the very last of that series and very probably the most capable version outside of a 22B – is beyond merely desirable. Had the owner not been such a nice bloke, I’d probably have disappeared in the Type R and never returned.
And I’ll tell you something else for free – the cops would have needed to send their bravest and best (and fastest) to run me to justice, because this thing absolutely flies. And I don’t mean
in a period sense. As in, right here, right now. Even though it might have a bit more grip, I doubt that even the currentmodel STi would see which way this blue bomber went. And another thing: how come the current car leaves you pissing blood after a speed hump when this car, built almost two decades earlier, rides so much better?
It’s not just a layer of plush that you weren’t expecting, it’s the whole way the type R deals with crappy roads without ever feeling mushy through the helm or the seats. Speaking of the seats, they’re just lovely and while they look a bit flat and shapeless, they’re anything but. And if ever you needed proof that lightness is a cornerstone of good car design, the featherweight Type R provides it.
It appears that, like the Legacy RA, Subaru managed to engineer all the nasty out of the STi in Type R form. The clutch is light and positive, the gearshift as close to idiot-proof as a H-pattern manual will ever be and even though the exhaust is a bit rowdier, it doesn’t drone at cruising speeds, nor is it likely to have Plod looking up from his donuts.
And then, while you’re still marvelling at the civility of it, you go and step on the noise pedal. And the Type R takes off. There’s very little lag and the short gearing (that sees about 3000rpm at 100km/h) ensures the thing always has a head of steam up. Throw in the faster steering which is as neutral and natural as any Subaru I’ve ever driven, the high grip levels and the overall togetherness of the package and the Type R emerges as much, much more than just another hyped limited edition.