If loads of grunt and loads of grip top your car buying list, look no further as the Subaru WRX STI spec.R awaits you.
The king of the breed, it’s the one with the lot …. including fries.
Spine-tinglingly fast, absorbing and rewarding to drive, the WRX STI spec.R packs a fearsome wallop.
There is nothing remotely subtle about its looks. First, there is the landing strip-size rear wing and the yellow Brembo brake callipers, wide 19-inch dark alloy wheels slipped inside ultra-grippy low-profile Yokohama Advan tyres under the vented and beefed up front guards.
There’s also the signature Rex big bonnet scoop, deep black hexagonal grille, ground-hugging front spoiler and a rear diffuser with four drainpipe exhausts. Get the picture?
Giving the spec.R its ferocious shove is a 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer four belting out 221kW and 407Nm. It drives through a six-speed manual gearbox and a driver-adjustable centre diff to all four wheels, all the time. Zero to 100km/h is over in 5.2 seconds.
The $57,690 spec.R is based on the previous Impreza WRX, not the latest one, like the rest of the range. But there’s no downside.
While it’s a steroid-fed looker outside it’s very liveable inside. Practical too, with enough room for four.
Standard kit includes body-hugging part leather, part Alcantara Recaro front seats (driver’s pew is power adjustable), an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, a 5.9-inch infotainment screen that displays turbo boost pressure, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, sat nav and many of the controls are voice activated. It also has cruise control, dual-zone aircon, front and rear cameras, auto de-icing wipers – (useless in Queensland and above), auto LED headlights, a sunroof, red seatbelts and plenty of cup holders.
The WRX STI spec.R’s steering is nicely-weighted and communicative and the update has included a tweaking of the dampers to lessen body roll when cornering.
The ride is still very firm but I never found it uncomfortable as it had enough suppleness to soak up most bumps, without diminishing its stupendous cornering agility.
Deserted winding and hilly roads are what the STI spec.R was bred for and when pressing on, it becomes totally engrossing behind the wheel; as you’d want.
Throw it at a corner, feel the extraordinary lateral grip move your innards to the loaded side, load up the turbo boost with some deft right foot action and hurtle towards the next corner in a blink of an eye. Exhilarating.
Over the years the WRX STI has given the trophy polishers at Subaru plenty of work, with several national and world rally championships under its belt.
The spec.R’s potent brakes, quick-flick steering, short gearshifts and beaut chassis make it relatively easy, even reassuring, to pedal quickly on loose surfaces despite all that power underfoot.
A five-star ANCAP safety rating is achieved thanks to seven airbags, stability and traction controls, ABS, brake assist. Driver assist tech in the STI spec.R includes lane departure warning, lane change assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and auto high beam headlights.
There’s little doubt the fun factor and involvement levels are off the Richter scale, after all, that’s why you’d buy the WRX STI spec.R. And for the money, it delivers huge bang for your buck.
But often overlooked is its versatility and easy-to-live-with nature as a daily driver, making it an excellent all-rounder.
And you can’t say that about many high-performance cars.
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