I’ve spoken before about the frankly odd choice of Subaru to move away from one of the most iconic car shapes ever – the rally-derived saloon shape it used for cars including the WRX and STi – but once you see one in the flesh you’ll actually be pleasantly surprised. So much so was this the case that I couldn’t help but talk you through one of the most impressive performance hatchbacks now on the market.
In terms of looks, the new shape will undoubtedly put some off. It doesn’t look as well balanced as the previous body shape – but it does look decidedly more modern and less like it belongs to the chav brigade. This doesn’t mean that the Subaru Impreza WRX STi (the flagship model, excepting specific ‘editions’ such as the 330S) doesn’t come with the trimmings.
Granted, whilst it is obviously a five door hatch (see, practicality too), the huge wheel arches, spoiler and bonnet scoop all tell you something. That something is that the car is designed to move. And quickly too! The four exhausts are a marvel, but you can only really appreciate the benefit when the engine is ticking over.
Behind the wheel, the quality is definitely a step up from previous versions, but still can’t match the top of the range German models for style. Nonetheless, the seats are excellent and overall fit and finish is superior. The mechanicals of Subaru vehicles are always noted as being excellent – and in this particular model you’ll find a strong clutch and positive gear change, albeit one that can be at times notchy.
Perhaps the greatest feat that Subaru has achieved with the car (aside from the huge number of controls that you can alter including damper settings and how the car puts power down) is the ability for to act as civilised and normal as you could want. As soon as you reach a ‘B’ road however, throw it into third, push hard and your Scooby will be spitting gravel and bellowing along.
For those of you who don’t really know what all the fuss is about, here’s some figures for you. 0-60 in five seconds and a top speed of 155mph. Impressive? Yes, very. My advice is not to be put off by the new shape and give it a go. It’s a STi, just not as we know it.