For a superb variety of folks, the title Subaru means just one factor: a flash of metallic blue by way of a copse of timber, a automotive decked out in lurid yellow cigarette promoting, gold wheels and the names McRae, Burns or Solberg on the again home windows. But it surely’s now time to consign that to the historical past books as a result of that’s the Subaru of yesteryear, destined by no means to return once more.
The automotive you see earlier than you brings down this curtain. Because the title implies, the WRX STi Ultimate Version is the final road-going offspring of a gold plated world rallying dynasty that first began again in 1994 with the Impreza Turbo. Whereas Subaru hasn’t been competing on the world stage for over a decade and the WRX STi hasn’t worn an Impreza badge for practically as a few years, the automotive has been our final remaining hyperlink to that halcyon time the place Subaru dominated the rallying roost.
In distinction to that 1990s fame this technology of the efficiency saloon has been a slightly quieter affair. The WRX STi has been underneath the radar (and the microscope) since its launch within the UK in 2014 – significantly so in opposition to a crop of not too long ago arrived high-power scorching hatches from the likes of Volkswagen, Honda, Ford, Mercedes and Audi.
Fortunately, Subaru isn’t going to quietly kill off its halo automotive with out some form of final hurrah. The WRX STi Ultimate Version will get normal blue paint, new 19-inch wheels housing bigger six-pot Brembo brake callipers painted highlighter yellow, tweaks to the damping and little ‘Ultimate Version’ badges on the entrance doorways.
Inside, the ‘Ultimate Version’ is repeated on the centre console, whereas half leather-based and alcantara heated bucket seats are additionally included. Normal equipment has been boosted with the infotainment display screen now that includes a reversing digital camera and DAB radio however, unusually, not sat-nav.
Regardless that this can be a run-out model Subaru has amazingly determined to offer the WRX a facelift only for this automotive. On the entrance there’s a complete new bumper with completely different air intakes, whereas the usual lively LED headlights that transfer with the steering incorporate new c-shaped working lights.
However the greatest change of all is to the four-wheel-drive system. The Driver’s Management Centre Differential – or DCCD – is now utterly digital (earlier than it was mechanical and digital). Now you’ll be able to alter how aggressive you need the diff to be with somewhat rocker change simply by the gear lever. DCCD can now distribute the STi’s torque quicker with a 41 per cent/59 per cent entrance/rear cut up, too.
That is no regular, tarted-up run-out particular then, however elsewhere it’s standard WRX STi. With no adjustments to the 296bhp 2.5-litre flat-four engine, the Zero-62mph dash stays at 5.2 seconds – sedate in comparison with the Ford Focus RS (four.7s) and Audi’s RS three Saloon (four.1s). The drive remains to be fed by way of a six-speed handbook gearbox, too.
If something the STi feels quicker than that Zero-62mph time. You must work the flat-four exhausting to get the very best from it, so it’s fairly quaint on this respect compared with one among VW Group’s ubiquitous and torquey 2.Zero-litre turbos. A excessive biting level on the clutch and a notchy gearbox make the STi cumbersome and irritating at low speeds, however rev the engine previous four,000rpm and it comes alive. This entire pantomime makes it feels quicker than a VW Golf R, but in addition a superb deal much less refined.
There’s not one of the Volkswagen’s constant and properly weighted steering both. Flip right into a nook and also you’re instantly struck by the STi’s lightness and aggressive self-centring. Match this to the engine’s frantic character and it will possibly make for a barely nervous sensation. However when you be taught to belief the setup the WRX STi really feels pleasingly responsive.
The Subaru claws the street tenaciously, however assault a bend somewhat too rapidly and the nostril will wash huge – a small lift-off the throttle cures that, however on the entire the symmetrical four-wheel-drive system is astonishingly adept. Whereas a extra trendy hatchback’s all-wheel-drive setup is attempting to work out which wheel wants the ability, the WRX has already sprinted away.
Nonetheless, mixed with the uncompromising trip and an affordable feeling inside coated in dated digital shows and organised in a most haphazard approach, the WRX STi feels fairly a couple of steps behind its polished rivals. However whereas these vehicles are simpler to drive and flatter in a medical approach, the Subaru is from an period the place the motive force is extra in cost. Whereas vehicles just like the VW Golf R really feel like quick variations of a run-of-the-mill hatchback, the STi genuinely nonetheless seems like a rally particular.
Die-hard followers might say this technology of the WRX STi isn’t fairly as uncooked as the unique Impreza, however in comparison with composed and refined scorching hatch competitors, it’s feistier and extra frantic. With solely 150 vehicles for the UK it’s positive to be a collector’s merchandise, and a particular one at that.