HEAD OUT AND HAVE A PEDAL

The six-speed man­ual keeps the STI per­co­lat­ing

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - LIFE -

1. THE 2018 VER­SION IS EASY TO SPOT

It wouldn’t be a makeover with­out a change of front bumpers and the “new” STI fol­lows the for­mula with a deeper front skirt and LED fog lights. The multi-func­tion dis­play in­side has been up­graded from 4.3 inches to 5.9 and there are glossy pi­ano black fin­ishes around the in­stru­ment panel, gear shift sur­round and win­dow but­tons on the doors. Subaru hasn’t upped the price, mean­ing the STI costs no more than $57,205 on the road. The tall rear wing is a $300 op­tion.

2. UP­DATES ARE MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

Changes to the STI’s sus­pen­sion ac­tu­ally de­liver the claimed im­prove­ments, re­duc­ing body roll and im­prov­ing ride com­fort with­out com­pro­mis­ing the car’s abil­ity to cling on through the cor­ners. The sedan now rides on stan­dard 19-inch wheels and there are six­pis­ton Brembo brakes up­front and twin-pis­ton jobs at the back to boost stop­ping power. Adap­tive LED head­lamps — which move the light spread as the steer­ing wheel is turned — are a wel­come ad­di­tion for driv­ers in ru­ral or poorly lit ar­eas.

3. IT’S START­ING TO SHOW ITS AGE

The STI doesn’t use the mod­u­lar chas­sis that un­der­pins newer mod­els such as the Im­preza and there are no plans to change for the next cou­ple of years. It is still a hugely com­pe­tent car but would ben­e­fit from the new plat­form’s lighter and stiffer con­struc­tion. Like­wise the en­gine hasn’t been fet­tled, though the cen­tre diff is now elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled. Play with the set­tings on a road and you’ll feel lit­tle, if any dif­fer­ence; find a course with mar­ginal trac­tion and they’re im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent.

4. THREE PED­ALS ARE ONLY WAY TO GO

The STI is a man­ual-only ve­hi­cle. That’s not a bad thing — the six-speed gear­box is a de­light to op­er­ate once it is run in (it can be notchy just off the show­room floor) — and en­ables own­ers to shift cogs to keep the boxer en­gine per­co­lat­ing at pre­mium pres­sure. It may not be fuel ef­fi­cient to do so but that’s not why you bought the STI. The down­side is a man­ual trans­mis­sion lim­its the Subaru’s tar­get au­di­ence — ever-fewer buy­ers are pre­pared to change gears them­selves and it is hard to blame them if they com­mute in a metropoli­tan area.

5. IT IS HAB­IT­ABLE RATHER THAN HOT

By hot hatch stan­dards (yes, we know, the STI is a sedan but it com­petes against that set), this is one of the more for­giv­ing daily driv­ers. It still pounds over sharp-edged bumps but is a marsh­mal­low when com­pared to a Ford Fo­cus RS, which can pun­ish pas­sen­gers. The flip side is the Fo­cus will hose it in a 0-100km/h sprint and match it through the twisty bits.

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