Motors: Subaru WRX STI’s bargain brute force
SUBARU this month has slashed the price of its WRX STI to £26,995 and the faster 320R, tested here, to £27,774 – a cut of more than £5,000.
There’s not even a spoiler on this one to alert the kids on the street and the lads in police blue. Maybe without a spoiler it would go savagely out of kilter above its artificially limited 158mph top speed?
The 320R is a dazzling compact saloon car from Japan. Its peer is the Mitsubishi Evo and was once the Nissan Skyline before that model went through a Kafkaesque metamorphosis and emerged as the GT-R, the fastest car on the planet bar a few which I haven’t tried.
The 320 means 320ps, which is 315.58 brake horsepower. The torque is a massive 450nm or 331.65lb ft imperial. The standard STI gives 296bhp and 300lb ft.
The 0-62mph figure – the one the lads need to read – is 4.9 seconds, so there are cars which are quicker over that distance, but none of them in this price category which a normal driver could drive so rapidly on an A to B route.
The front is low and wide, while the face is packed with detail. There are lots of air intakes, and halfway along the bonnet there’s a monster big enough to gulp up a passing passerine. It hangs unfashionably far beyond the front wheels, but as this car is all-wheel drive and has a low centre of gravity it probably doesn’t matter. Anyone, even Mr and Mrs Bus User, will realise that this car is a mover, more than a contender. It has a selectable differential to maximise grip. It has a turn-dial to moderate its responses, from Intelligent to Sport to Sport Sharp. Keen drivers can adjust the feedback to suit their style and ability.
Anyone can drive it. There is no nasty snatch, no snappy throttle, no grabby brakes, no dodgy visibility, no awkward posture. Instead this is a roomy and practical four-door car for anyone. The headroom in the cabin is as impressive as the luggage deck under that stumpy ugly boot. The seats have vented suede or suedette panels with leather sides, and the Recaro “buckets” in the front are supportive and comfortable.
There is a fair amount of hard plastic but they have spent money on the performance bits: the mighty engine, the big brakes, the alloy pedals, that adaptable traction system, the strong 18in wheels.
Against this onslaught you may offset its compromises. It has a lot of road roar (expected) and a thirst (ditto). The official mpg figures from Subaru are 20 urban, 33.6 extra urban and 26.9 overall. CO2 is 243g/km. On a long, legal, mostly flat motorway and dual lane run it returned 22mpg. On a mixed route at lower speed it showed 28mpg – much like what you’d get from a diesel 4x4 school run kids’ truck.
It is a blunt and brutal hangover from the last century’s super saloons from Japan. You will not be disappointed. There are classier cabins, but Subaru has spent the money on performance. «
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