Subaru WRX STi

Subaru WRX STi, front
Subaru WRX STi, front
Subaru WRX STi, rear
Subaru WRX STi, rear
Subaru WRX STI, front, action
Subaru WRX STi, interior
Subaru WRX STi, boot
Subaru WRX STI, interior
Subaru WRX STI, rear seats

WANT a supercar that can also double-up as a family motor when the occasion demands it but don't fancy spending much more than £30,000?

While such requirements might seem like an impossible wish list there's actually a very easy answer - just buy a Subaru WRX STi.

Yes, it has a distinct element of the over the top about it but if you can live with those eye-catching looks, an air intake that seems like it could swallow a wood pigeon whole and a rear spoiler that genuinely appears like it might be able to help the car take off then there's little to find fault with.

The Subaru Impreza in souped-up form can lay claim to being an automotive legend in its own right. Inspired by the rally car that enjoyed considerable WRC success a road-going version was launched in 1994.

It has gone through many incarnations since then and some have been more successful than others.

Having had a period in the doldrums of late it is back with a vengeance.

Interestingly although it's still thought of as an Impreza, that familiar name was dropped three years ago - it's now just the Subaru WRX STi.

Subaru have never been afraid to drastically alter the WRX's looks - a move that at times hasn't gone down all that well.

The latest version marks a real return to form in delivering a car that for want of a better description ‘looks the business'.

The car has been beefed-up all round - it's wider, lower and longer than its predecessor for starters, something Subaru say boosts both ride and handling.

The bodywork too has been given the serious muscular treatment - it's sleek, stylish and purposeful without being too aggressive. To my mind it's a look that definitely works and has the character its predecessor lacked.

Throughout its lifetime the WRX has always been about evolution, with elements carried over from one version to the next.

This is true of the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine powering it that's been revised rather than renewed.

On the inside the WRX is far roomier than the previous generation model and this translates to more leg room for rear seat passengers. A decent sized boot (460 litres) means this Subaru is perfectly at home being used as a family car.

The instrumentation and switchgear have been given an upgrade but they still have that basic Subaru feel, almost as if the designers are still a few years behind the curve.

To be honest it's one of those things I've come to expect in a WRX, and given the car's undoubted strengths in other departments I tend to make allowances for it.

And so to the driving experience. To my mind the WRX STi never fails to excite. Little tweaks, tucks and enhancements ensure it gets continually better. Sure it has many more competitors now in the shape of hot hatches that are not as far behind it in the performance stakes as they once were.

Many rivals may also be more modern and refined but for all its ‘old-fashionedness' the WRX still has something about it that helps set it apart.

It's hard to quantify but at its heart it's a rugged, authentic, real driving experience that delights. Given its relatively compact size that engine is quite a performer. Yes, it has to be worked hard to get the most out of it and at times the WRX can be a tricky customer but it can be great fun too.

You feel connected to the driving experience in a way that one doesn't in some more sophisticated cars and its suppleness and agility ensure it rarely disappoints.

FAST FACTS

Subaru WRX STi

Price:£31,995

Mechanical: 296bhp 2,457cc 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 159mph

0-62mph: 5.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 27.2

Insurance Group:40

C02 emissions: 242g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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