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
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.