Have you ever noticed how on certain days, everybody just wants a piece of your time? Like suddenly you are so important to everybody that you wish you could teleport or clone yourself and have your clones do all your work for you? I wish so but there’s work I would rather do myself, screw teleporting when you could drive the all-new Subaru Impreza WRX STI, if only for 24 hours.
That’s not long. Think about it. What can you get done in 24 hours these days? Not a lot really but when you have 300horses and 407Nm of torque all wrapped up in a love it or hate it metal suit, it does help accomplish a lot more. Like a sightseeing trip to Johor and back.
I know a number of people who don’t think much of the design of the new Version 10. The drastic change from a saloon to what I believe looks like an estate may have been too sudden and abrupt, kind of like a pie in your face. But personally, I think it’s fine, it may not be the prettiest of Subaru’s but it will do. And haven’t these guys caused a stir with every new Impreza model they launch?
The new STI is not ugly, the stout flowing lines and the muscular flares chiseled into the fenders give it a menacing stance. Something that grew onto me eventually. I would have preferred the traditional gold rims to the silver ones the media-car had on, but when I first saw it at 11am , that wasn’t a problem anymore. This is one of those cars that look better in the metal than they do on paper or web browser. After a brief introduction by the team at Motor Image and the customary STI sweep-over right before the flat-four boxer burbles into life, I was off with 300 horses under my foot and 24 hours to kill.
The one thing that a picture of the new STI can’t show you is the size of the car. It really is big, from the outside – its stance gives a capable look, like you know the car can pull off some pretty impressive numbers but get in and the size really becomes apparent. Shoulder room is great, the gear lever is nicely within reach, and a comfortable driving position raise the comfort level in this car to one previously unfamiliar to such breed of cars.
After a few minutes, it was getting boring, there’s only so fast you can go on four wheels and utter silence can really get to you after a while (yes, its true the boxer burble is almost non-existent). So the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) was tasked to entertain me. See, the system is essentially a driver-modifiable system that allows drivers to control of the car settings via a trio of driving modes – Intelligent, Sports and Sports Sharp. Each mode delivers a distinct pre-programmed rate of throttle opening and ultimately determines the car’s response and overall performance.
I had been cruising in Intelligent mode all this while. According to the brochure, it is the ideal mode for silky smooth performance, comfort and ideal fuel economy around town and on longer cruising. So I switched to Sports Mode just to see what happens. In this mode, power and response is more linear and readily available, though it all ultimately depends on how fast you can work the gears, it is the sharpened throttle response that lets you make up for the time lost during shifting.
Here I was happily minding my own business and fiddling with the little knob at the center console when I noticed two bright Xenon’s approaching fast. So I gave way and that’s when the brown Singaporean registered R35 GTR decided to slow down next to me, downshift (which sounded evil through his pipes) and blast away. I accepted and it was on!
Twisting the knob from Sports to Sport Sharp mode, the throttle response quickly becomes sharper and revs fly more freely. Shifting down, the STI took on a totally different character as it hunted down the quickly disappearing GTR. Now I know this could just pass off as a David vs Goliath story, but I just had to.
I’m sure you know what might have happened, but just to give you a clue – the only time I caught up with the freaking GTR was in traffic. So to save face, I pulled into the Pagoh rest and service area.
Reminiscing, it is the sheer eagerness of the car to get up and going that really got me. It may look fat and lazy, it may have cup holders and a decent stereo system but it’s not the chum it looks to be or is believed to be. The way the new Suby lays down its power and lets rip is intoxicating and all that while in a spacious and comfortable cocoon – it is the essence of modern motoring.
So I made it to Johor, let Tom have his way with it and drove back the same evening. By the time I reached KL, I still felt like I had more in me to go on till Penang and back – I knew the Subaru was up for it. But it was already 9am and I had to return the car at 11am. I had the Subaru for 24 hours and I slept for two, is that a testament to the car’s ability or my durability? Well, not a lot of cars can make you feel like going on for more even after 22hours, so it’s a testament to the modern STi’s capability to perform and to pamper. And now at 13per cent cheaper at RM258,475.20 compared to the nearly RM300,000 price tag it had on earlier, the new STI is a better buy than most competitors in the RM200-300,000 price range.