WRX STi and STimulating
dates : 18th July 2004
22nd July 2004
A couple of decades ago Subaru
was known for producing tiny microcars with engines of around
three hundred cc. Odd-shaped bubblecars with just enough power
to putter around the streets of Tokyo.
By the late 1970s, however, this Japanese company was already
making a reputation in America as a manufacturer of rugged
four-wheel-drive station wagons.
These were ideal for upstate New Yorkers who had to deal with
snow, slush and dirt roads throughout much of the year.
By the 1990's Subaru began carving itself a name in
international rallying with its turbocharged, flat-four
Imprezas. This led to Colin McCrae winning the World Rally
Championship for Subaru in 1995. And the rest, as they say is
Today a Subaru Impreza is the car every adrenaline-fueled
youngster wants his dad to buy. And many of those dads with
similar inclinations are doing just that
The STi name plate on the Subaru WRX Impreza stands for Subaru
Tecnica International - the company's motorsport division.
That indicates the specialised handiwork that is part and
parcel of every Impreza STi.
Large diameter alloy wheels anodised in gold, an outlandish
boot spoiler nearly as high as the roof, winglets on the deep
front spoiler and a gaping air intake on the bonnet. That's
the STi statement.
See one of these pull up next to you at the stoplights and you
should realise there is one hundred and ninety five kilowatts
beneath that otherwise unremarkable bonnet.
And when the lights go green, the Impreza STi has all-wheel
drive and rally-bred limited slip differentials front and
rear, to put all that power to the tarmac - instantly.
Subaru claim a zero to one hundred time of just 5,1 seconds
for the Impreza STi and when Car Magazine tested one back in
February 2003, their team matched that time, recording five
comma one-five seconds in fact.
The standing kilometre was knocked off in just twenty five
comma two seconds and the car went on to record an
electronically limited top speed of two hundred and thirty
four kilometres per hour.
That zero to one hundred time is fractionally faster than the
BMW M3 time recorded by Car, although above one hundred and
eighty kilometres per hour the M3 will be drawing away - at
least at sea level.
What makes the STi such a stop-light demon on the Reef is that
it is turbocharged. The thinner air at high altitude has
little effect on a turbocharged car, whereas a
naturally-aspirated car such as an M3 loses as much as 17 per
cent of its sea-level poke.
The STi is not all about straight-line speed though Ė itís
about twisty road handling.
Apart from its all-wheel drive system developed on the world
rallying trail, the STi has special strengthening braces
across its chassis, on the front and rear axles and revised
mounting points for some of the suspension members.
Yet the ride is not too stiff, as the STi still has plenty of
suspension travel. But specially programmed limited slip
differentials have enabled a much crisper turn-in when
cornering, ridding the STI of some of the understeer thatís
a feature of the standard Impreza.
Of course, for some people, enough is never enough.
Hence the STimulating version, a special South African factory
development of the STi. The name, of course, is a play on the
STi title, and for the 15 lucky owners of the Stimulating,
they will agree whole-heartedly that the title sums up the
The Stimulating incorporates some fairly minor engine tweaks
with a handling package to sharpen up the STi experience. But
these mods have made for some excellent performance benefits.
As far as the engine goes, there are two major changes. These
include an exhaust system developed by Prodrive, Subaru's
World Rally Championship team, and a locally-developed engine
The software package carries Prodrive approval, which means
the Stimulating versions are still covered under the standard
Itís amazing what some computerised fine-tuning can achieve.
Just the big-bore exhaust and some painstaking computer
plotting has liberated an extra 15 per cent power on the
Subaru, which would put the STimulating's peak power at some
two hundred and twenty five kilowatts.
And breaking that five-second barrier for the zero to one
hundred kilometre per hour sprint must be on the cars with
Each car receives lower suspension, stiffer damping, and each
Stimulating version is personally setup as far as wheel
alignment is concerned.
And as just 15 Stimulating Impreza's have been produced, this
car is already a collector's item.
Subaru claim that the total worth of the conversion amounts to
forty thousand rand. But they priced the Stimulating at R395
000, just R13 000 more than the standard STi.
A glance at the interior of the car would have you believe
that you may have over-capatilised on your personal
Apart from the race 'n' rally seats, metal-topped gearlever
and polished-metal pedal cluster, the interior is very ordinary.
It has the type of finish you'd expect in a Toyota Corolla or
a Nissan Primera costing around R140 000.
The quality of materials is good if unremarkable, but you
aren't buying a Subaru for its burr walnut dashboard, or
rather lack thereof.
Once you drive the car, its reason for being, and for such
worldwide sales success, becomes apparent.
It has a feeling of amazing mechanical integrity, and as our
upcoming feature on Subaru mechanicals will show, that feeling
is the result of top quality design and craftsmanship in the
engine, transmission and suspension departments.
Car Torque is