Subaru Impreza WRX STI can kick dust
THE RIDE: Five-door, five-passenger 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI all-wheel-drive hatchback. DOWN THE ROAD: Launched first in the United States in 2004, this rally-bred car from STI (Subaru Technica International) has been redesigned this year. It gets a longer wheelbase and wider track but stays true to its form of a performance-oriented car that can kick dust regardless of road conditions. TECH & PERFORMANCE: It's all about performance in the STI-derived car. A 2.5-liter DOHC horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder turbocharged engine pumps out 305 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 290 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. The six-speed manual transmission is flawless. The symmetrical all-wheel drive is mated to a Driver Controlled Center Differential, which offers three performance auto modes and a manual mode with six driver-selectable differential locking settings. Suspension is handled via inverted struts and forged aluminum lower A-arms in the front and a double wishbone design in the rear. Fear not for your safety as the WRX STI is equipped with substantial 13-inch front and 12.6-inch rear ventilated disc rotors. LOOK & FEEL: STI rules! Its insignia is everywhere, from the 18-inch tires to the steering wheel, to the front headrests to the sides of the car. The aggressive fascia sports an aluminum-alloy hood with functional air scoops, HID low beams and LED taillights, huge rear gate spoiler and quad exhaust pipes. Alcantara upholstery with leather-bolstered seats conveys a classy ambience, along with leather adorning the three-spoke steering wheel, shifter knob and parking brake. The electroluminescent instrument panel round gauges for tachometer, speedometer and fuel/water temperature are straightforward. What we liked is the information message center above the dashboard depicting outside temperature, miles per gallon and digital clock. There is a height-adjuster for the driver, a 60/40-split fold rear seatback and plenty of storage areas, including the doors and under the dashboard.SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, front and rear limited slip differentials and crumple zones, front-seat active head restraints, three-point seatbelts for all positions, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. OUT THE DOOR: $34,995, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 245/40R18 summer; wheelbase, 103.3 inches; length, 173.8 inches; weight, 3,395 pounds; fuel capacity, 16.9 gallons; highway, 23 mpg; city, 17 mpg. WHY DIG IT: Obviously, this thrilling ride is not everyone's cup of tea. However, performance-oriented motorists instantly will take a liking to the rally-bred racing brute, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds. Besides, the standard safety and interior features are aplenty to round up this attractive vehicle from Subaru.
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.