Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review

May 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

DSC_0064As a former WRX STI owner I always look forward to driving the newest incarnation. Mine was a version 4, back in the late 1990s, and I loved it as much as I loved Star Wars when I was kid. Until now I’ve been stuck in that halcyon era of big noise, big exhausts and torquey turbocharged boxer engines. I might just have changed my mind. Continue reading “Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review” »

Getting Shirty

April 23rd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Thanks to the demise of the summer season and its entourage of evening sporting activities, my social programme has recently relocated to the pubs and bars of the Auckland region. And being no stranger to the brewer’s craft, this is a situation that sits very comfortably with both me and my rapidly expanding waistline. Given that my circle of friends consists largely of drunks – they would be alcoholics if they could be bothered to go to meetings – I usually have to make little more effort than to sit back and wait for the text message or e-mail that informs me of the time and location of the next bacchanalian extravaganza.

But every so often I find myself facing a slightly perplexing social conundrum. Rather than simply diving into the nearest dive for the purposes of inspecting the bottom of several pint glasses, someone will get delusions of grandeur and insist we visit a flash restaurant or some other achingly fashionable venue where one is compelled to wear a collared shirt.

And being a man in his 30’s, I have absolutely no idea how I should do this.

Untucked I suspect

Not so many years ago, there was only one way to wear a shirt – untucked and with only as many buttons done up as it took to stop my dad beating me into tidying myself up. But now, on the few occasions where pre-social preening is necessary, I sometimes find myself standing in front of a mirror wondering if it wouldn’t look a darn sight more presentable if I stuffed all the excess material into the waistband of my Levi’s.

I accept that this has the potential to be a slippery slope and before too long I won’t be seen in public wearing anything except tweed trousers with a waistband at approximately nipple height, but even this would be better than turning into one of those social retards who desperately cling onto their youth despite it clearly being left behind in years that began with ‘nineteen ninety’.

And because the current Mrs Grimley has started one of her regular pining sessions for a Subaru Impreza WRX, this puts me on difficult ground.

As a petite, attractive, blonde lady-creature, this choice of vehicle holds absolutely no problems for her – pretty women in fast cars are essentially wheeled Viagra – but for me it’s the stuff of nightmares. The WRX Impreza should have been one of the great working man’s heroes; it has a devastating combination of power, pace and handling all of which comes wrapped up in a package that won’t give your bank manager angina. But thanks to a good proportion of the owners being people who are unsure how to operate a baseball cap and still follow their mothers’ edict of buying clothes to grow in to, it is essentially a car for tossers.

Clearly if you’re young you can get away with this – if you aren’t dressing or acting in some way like a victim of an overenthusiastic lobotomy then there is something wrong with you – but by what stage does this get out of jail expire? I’d love to have a WRX as a plaything and weekend driving tool, but ideally I don’t want to end up looking like a tool as well.

If anyone has an answer to this dilemma, I’d love to hear from you. The only solution I’ve come up with so far is to simply sell up and relocate to west Auckland where the culture is much more accepting of gentlemen with a penchant for performance. Although on the plus side it should sort out the shirt issue too. ‘In’ or ‘out’ really doesn’t matter; anything goes as long as it appears to have been stolen from a lumberjack.

Subaru to split next-gen WRX from Impreza model line

July 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru revealed its new shape 2012 Impreza earlier this year in standard trim, it looked good but fairly conservative. Despite this, WRX fans everywhere began imagining it with a full wide-body kit and big gold rims. But for the next WRX it’s not going to work like that, according to reports, the next WRX will be built as an entirely separate model line.

Due for release in 2014 the new WRX will apparently become a sports coupe with an entirely different body design to the new Impreza. The two models will continue to share a platform but the upcoming WRX will have a shortened wheelbase for improved handling dynamics, and other extra goodies.

A Subaru source said in a recent interview, “The first thing you must understand about our all-new WRX is that we have developed it from the ground up to win in motorsports events. That’s why we have focused so heavily on weight issues, not to mention a shorter wheelbase that permits faster, more precise turn-in. Marry that to our proven AWD system, and we think we have a winner.”

Subaru is planning a return to WRC rallying so when the hardcore STI variant of the WRX is released a future WRC rally car will be based on it. Continue reading “Subaru to split next-gen WRX from Impreza model line” »

Subaru reveals video of Isle of Man TT record settting lap

June 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru went to the 2011 Isle of Man TT race and returned home winners. No, the Japanese carmaker hasn’t created a high-tech AWD motorbike but it did take a near-stock standard WRX STI and run a time of 19 minutes and 37 seconds on the famous 60km course. That was quick enough to achieve a new record for a car traveling the course. But to get things into perspective the outright lap record for any vehicle  stands at 17 minutes and 12 seconds set in 2009 by John McGuinness on a Honda CBR1000RR ‘Fireblade’ motorcycle.

To break the existing record the WRX had an average speed of 185kph and got up to 255kph on some of the longer straights. Ex WRC driver Mark Higgins took the Subie through 200 corners and had a frightening incident getting loose at 200kph before bringing it straight again.

The record-setting WRX STI is powered by standard production turbocharged engine pumping out 227kW. Safety modifications included the addition of a roll cage, fire-suppression system, special brake pads and a louder open exhaust to best warn spectators of an unexpected approaching car. Subaru also took off the car’s speed governor and tweaked the suspension with Tein dampers to handle the course’s famous jumps. Continue reading “Subaru reveals video of Isle of Man TT record settting lap” »

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI convertible – a customisation crime

March 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The car tuning scene must work a little bit differently over in the States. Here in NZ, if we owned a brand spankers Subaru WRX STI we would love it and cherish it and probably knock a bedroom wall down in our homes so we could sleep next to it. Would we chop the roof off it and ruin its rally-bred dynamics while making it look totally rubbish? No we would not.

But over in the States they have a huge population so there must be a few people with loads of cash and absolutely no taste. For that small crowd, Manchester Subaru in New Hampshire has created the monster you see above – a WRX STI convertible. You could also call it a ‘rag-top’ if you’re Vanilla Ice, or want to be.

This tale of automotive woe isn’t a total hacksaw job, but it certainly isn’t pretty. The roll bar looks like a picnic basket handle but may offer some rigidity. Everything else is all bad, there’s a poorly fitted tonneau cover for the roof, chopped door pillars but they have left the STI wing on the boot to clutter the vehicles odd lines even further. Don’t expect Subaru to be inspired and put the WRX STI convertible into mass production.

But the worst part is the price which is apparently $75,000 USD that’s $101,000 of our money or the same price as a brand new WRX STI ‘hardtop’ and another standard WRX as well. Continue reading “2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI convertible – a customisation crime” »

Subaru Unveils Full Paige Advert

March 4th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

Over the last couple of months, I’ve begun dabbling in that coolest of sports, surfing. As is the way of these things, I watched someone younger, more talented and infinitely more physically attractive than myself make it look very easy one day and thought “Yes, I need a bit of that action”. So with the help of Muriwai Surf School and my friend/personal surf Yoda Daniel, I’ve been grabbing a board, heading out into the sea and joining the ranks of people taking sick rides on knarly left hand breaks. Dude.

Full Paige Advert

Or rather I haven’t. While others are merrily catching waves, I spend most of my time thrashing around in white water trying to work out which foot should go at the front. On the few occasions where I do manage to haul myself into an upright position, there is a rapid transition to a face-first dismount capable of making passing fish wince. In short, I am not a good surfer.

The strange thing is that I really don’t care. By nature I’m not what you would call a good loser and this level of epic failure is more normally met with toys being despatched from pram and me going home, but somehow with surfing it’s different. Sure I’d rather be one of the chiselled beach-God brigade to whom hanging ten comes as naturally as taking their next breath, but it doesn’t bother me to be the incompetent guy who looks like he’s been poured into a wetsuit three sizes too small either.

Surfing it seems, is not all about the end result, but rather the joy of simply doing it in the first place. And with that in mind, I don’t think it is entirely co-incidental that Subaru have decided to pick Kiwi pro-surfer Paige Hareb to be the face of their Impreza range. Continue reading “Subaru Unveils Full Paige Advert” »

Subaru Impreza WRX 2011 Review

February 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Possessing genuine rally sport pedigree is something a few car companies have attempted to trade on over the years, but it’s never been more believable than in Subaru’s WRX. While Subaru is taking a recession induced break from the WRC scene it’s go-hard Impreza continues the rally-breed evolution that began back in 1992 with its first generation. While the rally bloodlines run stronger in the uncompromising Impreza STI the WRX remains far from a standard run about. The STI will always be the choice for those who aspire to performing dirt road power slides but the WRX is now closer aligned to its more coveted sibling than ever before. But does this mean the updated 2011 WRX is a balls-to-the-wall excitement machine? Car and SUV got belted into a WRX hatch to take a voyage of discovery… rapidly.

Over the years the WRX has seen more drastic costume changes than a Madonna concert and not all the different looks have been sexy, but the third-gen model has a definite raw charm. The big changes for the facelift are the inclusion of a wide body kit distilled from the STI, this has been like a course of steroids for the WRX and has resulted in a stockier more muscular look. While there are still thoughtfully placed clues on the STI like a more pronounced rear wing, only hardcore fans could now tell the difference between the two variants with a single glance. Continue reading “Subaru Impreza WRX 2011 Review” »

Gran Turismo 5 racing game finally released – return of WRX STI sedan

November 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Sony has finally released Gran Turismo 5 in the NZ market and while there are hundreds of cars to choose from the new Subaru WRX STI sedan is that little bit special.

The much anticipated racing game launched last week and had the WRX STI sedan included in its extensive car list. An STI sedan has not been available since 2007, but has now made its comeback.

So what? Well, the original Playstation was credited with popularising the WRX STI in North America, before it was launched into that market several years after it first appeared in New Zealand.

The new WRX STI has also been a sales success since its launch, when four-door sedan variants were reintroduced. In Japan, 2400 sedans and hatches have been sold since debut in July, double those initially forecast.

Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru vehicles, says featuring the WRX STI in Gran Turismo 5 is an effective and entertaining way to raise awareness of the model and introduce more people to the adrenaline-pumping WRX STI.

Since the first series was introduced in 1997, Gran Turismo has been highly popular not only among video game fans worldwide, but also professional racing and rally drivers.

So now you know what to ask Santa for Christmas this year – Gran Turismo 5. You could ask for a Subaru WRX STI but it may not fit in his sack.

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