Back in heart of the ac­tion

ROAD TEST/ Subaru South Africa launches a lim­ited num­ber of the fiery Di­a­mond Edi­tion STi for high-per­for­mance en­thu­si­asts, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

For a brand that once pinned much of its rep­u­ta­tion on rally­bred fire-breathers like the Im­preza WRX and STi, Subaru has gone a lit­tle soft of late.

While the WRX and STi are still around, the Ja­pa­nese brand has spent much of its time fo­cus­ing on prac­ti­cal but not ex­actly fiery fam­ily SUVs like the XV, Forester and Out­back.

Now Subaru South Africa has un­leashed a car that should put it back into the high-per­for­mance spot­light: the STi Di­a­mond Edi­tion. Built to com­mem­o­rate 30 years of Subaru Tec­nica In­ter­na­tional, this spe­cial car is beefed up with ex­tra power and a lurid body kit. By means of a remapped ECU and a free-flow ex­haust sys­tem, the engi­neers have tweaked power in the boxer 2.5l turbo en­gine from 221kW and 407Nm to 260kW and 464Nm. The up­grade has cut the car’s 0-100km/h time from 5.76 sec­onds to 5.03 sec­onds, and the 0-160km/h sprint from 14.76 to 13.70 sec­onds. Top speed re­mains at 255km/h.

This makes it the most po­tent pro­duc­tion STi yet re­leased in SA. It’s a purely lo­cal devel­op­ment that took Subaru 18 months to com­plete.

Only 30 in­di­vid­u­ally num­bered units are be­ing made avail­able in this lim­ited-edi­tion build, which also in­cludes an en­gine brace for in­creased sta­bil­i­sa­tion, a 20mm wider track to give the car a more “planted” look, and a High-Viz Yel­low body kit. The sig­na­ture STi fea­tures re­main un­changed: the “hawk-eye” LED Day­time Run­ning Lights, and the large bon­net in­ter­cooler scoop. The all-wheel drive car rides on 19-inch 245/35 rub­ber on dark­ened Yde­sign al­loys.

Di­a­mond Edi­tion de­tail­ing in the cabin in­cludes new facet de­signs on the driver and pas­sen­ger dash­board in­lays, with an ex­clu­sive num­bered panel on the driver’s side.

The STi has never been a sub­tle car and this Di­a­mond Edi­tion is even less so, par­tic­u­larly with its au­di­ble char­ac­ter. It starts up with a neigh­bour­hood­wak­ing bark as the en­gine set­tles into a some­what lumpy idle, and the loud howl of the freeflow ex­haust is a con­stant fac­tor in your trav­els.

The firm clutch makes it tricky to ef­fect smooth gear changes through the six-speed man­ual, es­pe­cially in traf­fic.

This is a car that prefers an open stretch of tar, and when such presents it­self, the Subaru lets loose with hearty for­ward progress. Every­thing smoothes out when you’re bang­ing through the gears in full-at­tack mode, and the revs shoot up at a dizzy­ing pace: ev­ery cou­ple of sec­onds a beep sounds to in­di­cate it’s time to change gear.

The ex­haust howl adds a fit­ting war cry to such high­per­for­mance Per­for­mance, han­dling, rar­ity value Ex­ces­sive ex­haust drone when cruis­ing A spe­cial Subaru for the cho­sen few ex­ploits, al­though the loud drone can be­come tire­some when cruis­ing on longer trips.

All-wheel drive is part and par­cel of the Subaru ex­pe­ri­ence, and rain-soaked Joburg roads gave us the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­cel­lent trac­tion of this sys­tem. On dry roads the car cor­ners in a nice and neu­tral way when you’re right on the edge, without the ex­ces­sive un­der­steer of pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Subarus.

At the press of a but­ton the driver can fid­dle with the han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics us­ing the Driver’s Con­trol Cen­tre Dif­fer­en­tial (DCCD) sys­tem, which ap­por­tions more power to ei­ther the front or rear wheels. There are also three driver-se­lectable SI-Drive modes that af­fect the throt­tle re­sponse.

This is an en­thu­si­ast driver’s car through and through, with sharp steer­ing and firm sus­pen­sion that put you right into the heart of the ac­tion, while gripped tightly in place by sports seats.

The price is R799,000, a R30,000 pre­mium over the standard Subaru STi, and it comes with the reg­u­lar three­year/75,000km main­te­nance plan and five-year/150,000km war­ranty.

It’s not cheap, but with only 30 units of this su­per STi be­ing built, it should en­sure the car’s rar­ity and a de­cent re­sale value. Value for money BMW 340i, 240kW and 450Nm R810,248 Audi S4 Qu­at­tro, 260kW and 500Nm R816,000 From 1995 to 1997 Subaru dom­i­nated the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, win­ning the con­struc­tors cham­pi­onships for three years in suc­ces­sion, mak­ing world cham­pi­ons of Colin McCrae and Tommi Maki­nen, and again in 2003 with Pet­ter Sol­berg at the wheel In 30 years, STi has achieved three Con­struc­tors World Rally Cham­pi­onship ti­tles, three World Rally Cham­pi­onship Driver’s ti­tles, 47 World Rally Cham­pi­onship over­all wins and five class wins in Ger­many’s 24Hour Nür­bur­gring.

WE DIS­LIKE: VER­DICT: Over­all

Just 30 of th­ese spe­cial mus­cled-up Di­a­mond Edi­tion STis are be­ing built. De­sign Econ­omy Ride/han­dling

Bucket seats and sports steer­ing wheel wel­come the en­thu­si­ast driver, left. The lurid body kit is matched by a none-toosub­tle roar from the free-flow ex­haust, be­low.

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