Su­per­car per­for­mance for fam­ily car money

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

SO you would like a car than can go from 0-62 in a shade over five sec­onds and hit al­most 160mph… and all for less than £30,000?

Well, amaz­ingly, you can now get near su­per­car per­for­mance for fam­ily saloon money in the shape of the latest Subaru WRX STi – which is quite a bit un­der that price band be­cause the new model is £4,000 cheaper than the old one at £28,995 on-the-road.

But cheaper does not mean you get less as the model’s all-new bodyshell is an in­cred­i­ble 140 per cent stiffer due to the use of ul­tra high­t­en­sile steel, yet it weighs the same, which means han­dling is greatly im­proved… and, let’s face it, the pre­vi­ous, rally-bred 4x4 flyer was no slouch in that depart­ment. The bet­ter han­dling is also down to a re­vised sus­pen­sion lay­out and new hy­draulic power steer­ing. To prove it is bet­ter Subaru took a stan­dard WRX around the Isle of Man TT course in 19 min­utes and 16 sec­onds – break­ing the four-wheel record for the fa­mous cir­cuit by a huge 40 sec­onds... a record that was held by the pre­vi­ous WRX model.

So it’s fast and fu­ri­ous and, when I got be­hind the wheel, I felt a lit­tle like I should be in the film fran­chise of the same name. With its iconic ‘in your face’ styling, in­clud­ing that trade­mark WRX huge rear wing plus four beefy ex­haust pipes, a rac­ing un­der­body rear split­ter and big bon­net air scoop, this is clearly a bit of a beast.

How­ever, The new WRX STI is also more spa­cious and more com­fort­able than its pre­de­ces­sor, with a bet­ter level of stan­dard equip­ment. The in­te­rior is much im­proved over the old model with soft-touch ma­te­ri­als on the doors and dash­board and it also now has a race-de­rived D-shaped steer­ing wheel, while Al­can­tara and leather sports seats hug the driver and front pas­sen­ger.

That re­vised sus­pen­sion sys­tem im­proves ride com­fort with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics that have made the WRX STI so suc­cess­ful on the road and track.

But when you turn the key and the 300bhp flat four, 2.5-litre Boxer en­gine, with that big turbo and in­ter­cooler, bursts into life with the dis­tinc­tive Subaru bur­ble you know the pow­er­plant, too, is a se­ri­ous bit of kit.

Subaru say the en­gi­neer­ing brief for the new WRX STI was to de­velop a car that pro­vided ‘ab­so­lute power and driver con­trol’. With all that power and 407Nm of torque on of­fer, plus a 4x4 driv­e­train that al­lows the car to ap­ply the max­i­mum of both to the road at all times, the WRX STI is, claim Subaru, one of the fastest – and safest – per­for­mance cars in ‘real world’ con­di­tions.

So to put the car through its paces in the real world – to­gether with a me­chanic friend of mine – I took a quick trip to see another old pal at my child­hood stomp­ing ground of sleepy Knott-End-on-Sea on the Lan­cashire coast.

Once off the mo­tor­way and A-roads – where the WRX was bril­liant – it was on to de-re­stricted and de­serted twisty Sun­day night coun­try lanes, which I know like the back of my hand, and the Subaru came into its own.

What­ever you think of that bold ex­ter­nal styling and im­age, this is a su­perb driv­ing ma­chine. The power, once you get that big turbo spin­ning at over 3,000 revs, is blis­ter­ing and the car corners like it is on rails. We both had huge grins on our faces as the fo­liage flashed by.

There is a three mode driv­ing sys­tem which al­ters en­gine and throt­tle re­sponse. In­tel­li­gent Mode mon­i­tors driv­ing con­di­tions to de­liver op­ti­mum fuel ef­fi­ciency and smooth power de­liv­ery. Sport Mode is for all con­di­tions, with im­proved power de­liv­ery and a more ur­gent throt­tle re­sponse, and Sport Sharp gives max­i­mum ac­cel­er­a­tion and more pre­cise rev con­trol.

In ‘In­tel­li­gent’ the WRX is easy to drive and, apart from the slightly harsh ride, is a car you could live with as your daily driver. In Sport Sharp Dr Jekyll turns a bit more into Mr Hyde and the real fun be­gins.

Any nig­gles? Well there is no DAB ra­dio or sat nav and, as you would ex­pect with all that per­for­mance on tap, fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures are not out­stand­ing at around 27mpg. But then the Nur­bur­gring is well sign­posted and you will be lis­ten­ing to that boxer en­gine roar rather than Ab­so­lute 80s as the fuel me­ter plunges into the low teens…

More info at subaru. co.uk.

●» The 2015 WRX STi Subaru is is an in­cred­i­ble 140 per cent stiffer than the out­go­ing model due to the use of ul­tra high-ten­sile steel, yet it weighs the same

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