Limited supply of WRX STI

Limited supply of WRX STI

M4158002200aPerformance enthusiasts in New Zealand will have to move quickly because global demand for the new Subaru WRX STI from the US and Australian markets will see supply restricted here.

The New Zealand market has been allocated 100 WRX vehicles and 30 of the WRX STI which remains the brand’s performance flagship.

M4158002060aUnlike the previous generation the new STI is only available in sedan format with a six-speed manual transmission, there is no hatch version and nor will there be, and as yet there is no automatic transmission option.

Pricing on the new STI is not only competitive, the cars represent very good value for the level of specification provided in comparison to the previous generation. The standard WRX STI is priced from $59,990 and the WRX STI premium is priced from $64,990.

Subaru has made significant changes to the body, chassis and suspension of the STI to differentiate it from the standard WRX and give the high performance European cars something to be M4158002030awary of.

Inside the cabin the specification includes a D-shaped steering wheel, multi-function display with turbo boost pressure gauge, push button start with smart key technology, entertainment system powering through Harman Kardon speakers and amp, soft-touch interior, active torque vectoring and driver’s knee airbag.

Other standard features now include factory fitted satellite navigation, reversing camera, daytime running lights, dusk sensing LED headlights with halogen high-beam, rain sensing wipers, shark fin radio antenna, increased cabin space and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.

M4158001630aThe new model has a roomier interior than previously, while the 18-inch alloy wheels and STI badging differentiate it on the road. The large rear wing is now a delete-able option.

The bonnet scoop of the new STI sits lower and wider, to benefit both efficiency and driver visibility and it shares five star crash test rating from the Australasian new car assessment program (ANCAP) with the new WRX.

The wing mirrors are located on the doors, reducing blind-spots and providing better forward visibility says Subaru. The STI features Brembo brakes, distinguished visually by a white STI logo on the black painted callipers.

M4158001520aUnder the bonnet the STI is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed boxer engine which puts out 221kW/6000 rpm and torque of 407Nm/4000rpm.

The multi-mode driver’s control centre differential (DCCD) allows drivers to vary the amount of power and torque fed to the front and rear axles. The addition of a turbo boost pressure gauge in the cabin multi-function display also highlights performance.

Active torque vectoring is also introduced on WRX STI as part of a comprehensive suite of vehicle dynamics control technologies.

M4158001530aThe factory says the STI’s drivability was honed in development testing in several countries, including high speed driving on Germany’s Nurburgring circuit.

Subaru says the new STI achieves a new level of drivability thanks to symmetrical all-wheel drive, fully re-tuned suspension, stiffened structure and a quicker steering ratio.

Significantly greater use of high tensile steel produces both handling and safety benefits and combined with the stiffer suspension, provides a greater driving experience says Subaru.

Subaru New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper says the Japanese manufacturer is at full capacity and the factories in the USA and Japan are making as many cars as possible to fulfil demand from large global markets.

Subaru of North America sells more than 300,000 cars annually and Subaru Australia sells more than 40,000 vehicles, then there is the Chinese market that takes more than 50,000 units per annum.

New Zealand’s sales volume of more than 2000 units a year makes us niche and unique, but Dumper says the company has a strong relationship with the factory and it does its best to accommodate us.

But that allocation is finite, and Dumper says he doesn’t know how many more vehicles Subaru could sell this year, because M4158001480athat number is all they can get their hands on.

Driving impressions:

Leather upholstery, a glass sunroof, and lighter alloy wheels are amongst the items which differentiate the Premium STI from the non-premium model but the driving character and responsiveness to throttle and steering wheel is basically identical.

During the media drive programme we took an STI and an STI Premium model for a back to back drive from Auckland to Mangawhai across a mixture of motorway, state highway, rural M4158000890aand gravel roads, to test the limits of the cars and occupants.

Subaru has delivered an STI that will delight dynamic but sympathetic drivers who seek a no nonsense performance sedan that offers thundering straight line speed as well as prodigious cornering and grip.

It comes however at the expense of ride comfort, the suspension is really firm and the trade off is that occupants will sometimes feel those lumps and bumps in the road as the driver does his best impression of former Subaru World Champion Rally driver Petter Solberg.

The car also demands a driver with a appreciation of matching the engine power with the manual transmission in a smooth and gentle manner. In his haste to explore the outer envelope of the cars performance, my driving companion occasionally had difficulty doing this, and there was at times a great deal of clutch and transmission shock felt through the cabin.

Tractor drivers ought not to buy a STI but stick with their Massey Ferguson where rough as guts gear changes aren’t going to be noticed.

But the value for money equation when comparing the all-wheel-drive WRX STI with the likes of the Golf R and the Audi S3 and RS3 cannot be ignored.

Its got the charm, the balls, the specification, and the noise demanded by STI cognoscenti, and no doubt Subaru dealers will scythe through the 30 units they have been allocated.

Words: Robert Barry

Pictures: Subaru New Zealand

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