A wel­come re­turn to form for fam­ily friendly su­per­car

Solihull News - - MOTORING NEWS - ENDA MULLEN enda. mulln@ trin­i­tymir­ror. com

WANT a su­per­car that can also dou­ble- up as a fam­ily mo­tor when the oc­ca­sion de­mands it, but don’t fancy spend­ing much more than £ 30,000?

While such re­quire­ments might seem like an im­pos­si­ble wish list there’s ac­tu­ally a very easy an­swer – just buy a Subaru WRX STi.

Yes, it has a dis­tinct el­e­ment of over- the- top about it but if you can live with those eye­catch­ing looks, an air in­take that seems like it could swal­low a wood pi­geon whole and a rear spoiler that gen­uinely ap­pears like it might be able to help the car take off then there’s lit­tle to find fault with.

The Subaru Im­preza in souped- up form can lay claim to be­ing an au­to­mo­tive legend in its own right. In­spired by the rally car that en­joyed con­sid­er­able WRC suc­cess a road- go­ing ver­sion was launched in 1994.

It has gone through many in­car­na­tions since then and some have been more suc­cess­ful than oth­ers.

Hav­ing had a pe­riod in the dol­drums of late it is back with a vengeance.

In­ter­est­ingly al­though it’s still thought of as an Im­preza, that fa­mil­iar name was dropped three years ago – it’s now just the Subaru WRX STi.

Subaru have never been afraid to dras­ti­cally al­ter the WRX’s looks – a move that at times hasn’t gone down all that well.

The lat­est ver­sion marks a real re­turn to form in de­liv­er­ing a car that for want of a bet­ter de­scrip­tion ‘ looks the busi­ness’.

The car has been beefed- up all round – it’s wider, lower and longer than its pre­de­ces­sor for starters, some­thing Subaru say boosts both ride and han­dling.

The body­work too has been given the se­ri­ous mus­cu­lar treat­ment – it’s sleek, stylish and pur­pose­ful with­out be­ing too ag­gres­sive. To my mind it’s a look that def­i­nitely works and has the char­ac­ter its pre­de­ces­sor lacked.

Through­out its life­time the WRX has al­ways been about evo­lu­tion, with el­e­ments car­ried over from one ver­sion to the next.

This is true of the 2.5- litre four- cylin­der en­gine pow­er­ing it that’s been re­vised rather than re­newed.

On the in­side the WRX is far roomier than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion model and this trans­lates to more leg room for rear seat pas­sen­gers. A de­cent- sized boot ( 460 litres) means this Subaru is per­fectly at home be­ing used as a fam­ily car.

The in­stru­men­ta­tion and switchgear have been given an up­grade but they still have that ba­sic Subaru feel, al­most as if the de­sign­ers are still a few years be­hind the curve.

To be hon­est it’s one of those things I’ve come to ex­pect in a WRX, and given the car’s un­doubted strengths in other de­part­ments I tend to make al­lowances for it.

And so to the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. To my mind the WRX STi never fails to ex­cite. Lit­tle tweaks, tucks and en­hance­ments en­sure it gets con­tin­ual- ly bet­ter. Sure it has many more com­peti­tors now in the shape of hot hatches that are not as far be­hind it in the per­for­mance stakes as they once were.

Many ri­vals may also be more mod­ern and re­fined but for all its ‘ old- fash­ioned­ness’ the WRX still has some­thing about it that helps set it apart.

You feel con­nected to the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in a way that one doesn’t in some more so­phis­ti­cated cars and its sup­ple­ness and agility en­sure it rarely dis­ap­points.

On an open and empty B- road there’s noth­ing quite like it.

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