Review: Subaru WRX STi Final Edition

Review: Subaru WRX STi Final Edition
Review: Subaru WRX STi Final Edition

We drive a car heading for extinction

The name tells you what you need to know. This is the swansong of the Impreza, the Final Edition of a car that started life because of Subaru’s commitment to the World Rally Championship. With the manufacturer withdrawing from the WRC, there was no need for homologation specials, and no need for this car. And so it’s going, with a run-out of 150 special models. We’re driving one, and we knew there was only one place to go.

While SUVs seem more at home in Sloane Square than the Highlands of Scotland these days, a Scooby is still not the thing to be seen cruising round the more fashionable parts of London unless you’re being post-ironic. No, it’s to Scotland we go, in the winter. On cue, it snows like crazy. Perfect.

The Impreza has been a fast car on the scene since 1994, with the Turbo 2000 offering 208bhp and the sort of wild ride that changed some people’s opinions about what an affordable supercar should be. It’s been near quarter of a century since then, and many iterations later, but this WRX STi is still recognisably the same car.

And that’s a problem for many, not least legislators who take a dim view of a 296bhp super saloon that struggles to hit 25mpg and which really doesn’t struggle to emit 252g/km of CO2.

This is old school, this is analogue in a digital world and the digital world has signed the death sentence on this old dinosaur. But we’re not letting it go without a final roar in the wilderness.

That’s a great idea but the reality is a lot of hard work. My, these old Subarus make you work for your enjoyment. Every control feels heavy and lifeless and the car is astonishingly noisy, like speaking louder to have a conversation noisy. The steering is heavy but there is communication, connection, a lot of it. The ride is hard, but composed and, after a while, you start to let the instant observations go, and you start to get into it.

It’s a good place to get into, deep into. Snowy roads watched over only by hardy sheep are the natural hunting ground for the Subaru, and the 2.5-litre flat four pours out the power and torque to all four wheels, working steadily up the rev range to a really shouty, violent redline.

In conditions like these, on small, twisty, snowy roads, many cars would give up. Some SUVs would cope, with the electronic traction control warning light flickering like a strobe. But this Final Edition would come honking past all of them, the driver wrestling and sweating, but with a manic grin on his or (less often) her face. Born to hoon.

This Final Edition has 19-inch wheels, tweaked suspension, stronger brakes and a more sorted centre diff, to go with the standard rear diff. Otherwise it’s as you were. And that of course is part of the problem, it hasn’t really changed while the rest of the world is changing as fast as a digital clock on fast forward.

The cabin feels dated despite some digital kit in the centre, it can’t get through emissions regulations and it uses silly amounts of fuel. It has to go, and anyway the entire reason for its being, Subaru’s efforts in the WRC, have passed now.

Perhaps there aren’t enough wild places left in this country, or not enough people in them who want to go fast when the weather if dire and nobody is around to watch or complain. For the few this remains the weapon of choice. You wouldn’t have gone faster under the conditions we encountered in anything else, and that’s quite a thing. But, like everything, it too shall pass. It’s finally over.

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