Written by Karl Peskett
For the 20 years it’s been in production, Subaru’s WRX has made itself an icon. And in STI-guise, it has further cemented its legendary status – there isn’t another vehicle that has offered so much ability, so much tuning potential, so much fun, and been so reliable for such a low price. And while there’s no disputing the car’s brilliance, as the WRX STI hit the second-hand market, massive stereos and huge exhaust pipes seemed to become synonymous with the ‘Rex’.
The latest iteration targets a more mature market. The WRX STI is longer, wider, and taller than previous models, but there’s a lot more space. With a 2,650mm wheelbase, there’s more rear legroom, while the enlarged width means three across the back row is tolerable.
A huge leap in material quality means Rex owners won’t have to sink into their seats when a VW Golf R drives past. The plastics across the dashtop don’t feel like recycled Lego any more, and the soft-to-touch surfaces extend to door cards and various touch-points around the cabin. The seats are brilliant, and the reversing camera screen doubles as a boost pressure gauge.
The 2.5l turbocharged flat four makes a healthy 295hp and 407Nm, and will happily dash to 100kph in just under five seconds. It also has a proper manual gearbox – joy of joys.
With a permanent all-wheel-drive system, it’s able to shuffle power around to each wheel individually, so its grip is astounding. The suspension keeps the car flat and stable, and the ride is firm, but it’s never uncomfortable. It changes direction with cat-like reflexes, and can accelerate through corners at physics-defying speeds. Fun? You bet.
This is a lithe sports sedan that doesn’t play boy-racer any more. It’s all grown up and very serious about its purpose for being. If it’s bang-for-your-buck you want, the WRX STI is king of the hill.