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This is the Prodrive Style version - distinguished by the large rear spoiler amongst other details. Picture by Subaru.

Picture by Subaru.

Picture by Subaru.

Picture by Subaru.

Picture by Subaru.

Picture by Subaru.

Launch of the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, and WRX STi Prodrive Style (Type UK)
Story by Shane O' Donoghue, pictures by Subaru - November 2001.

Fittingly, just as Richard Burns lifted the 2001 World Rally Championship on Sunday, Subaru announce the eagerly awaited Impreza WRX STi, and the even more sought after Prodrive Style version. The Car Enthusiast previewed the car in the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show, but it turns out to be quite a bit more special than we could have hoped at that stage.

In January 2002, two versions will go on sale in the UK - the WRX STi, and the special edition WRX STi Prodrive Style. The latter may not have a catchy name, but it is undoubtedly the pick of the two cars, with Prodrive-designed spoilers, grille and front bumpers as well as dark blue instruments with red needles inside. This will all cost you 27,495 on-the-road, with the 'regular' STi costing 25,995.

To distinguish the cars from the large amount of 'grey' imports in the UK, Subaru have designated these cars 'Type-UK'. This shows Subaru's disapproval of the grey import market, though in reality will just add to the choice we, as car enthusiasts, have. All Type-UK cars include a category one alarm and immobiliser, as well as a satellite tracking system. Imagine trying to insure it without!

The STi (Subaru Tecnica International) may be recognised by the use of smoked glass projector beam headlamps, bigger bonnet air intakes and a single rear exhaust pipe - drainpipe size naturally. The headlights are the nicest interpretation yet of the new design in my opinion, thankfully shying away from the bug-like appearance of the rally car. The wheels are special gold-coloured items, and the interior features blue suede-effect seats and special trim. Four colours are available: WR Blue shown here, Blue Black Mica, Premium Silver Metallic and Pure White.

Top speed is quoted at 148mph, alongside a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds. It is unclear which version this refers to as there will be subtle differences in the weight and aerodynamics.

Now, that you know the cosmetic stuff, on with the heart of the car - the charismatic horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, mated to a turbocharger and an air-cooled (with water spray!) intercooler. So this is the same as the standard WRX you say? You would be wrong! Subaru claim that 80% of the engine has been changed from the underrated WRX. The important changes are:

  • Larger air to air intercooler with driver-controlled water spray
  • Sodium-filled exhaust valves
  • Hollow intake valves
  • Reinforced engine block and connecting rods
  • Forged pistons
  • Shimless valve lifters
  • Variable valve timing (Subaru call it 'Active Valve Contol System')

    So, what does all this result in? A claimed 262bhp and 253lb.ft of torque that's what - a healthy increase over the regular WRX (215bhp, 215lb.ft). Maximum power is available at 6000rpm, with the peak torque figure coming up at 4000rpm. The dimensions of the engine remain unchanged (bore: 92mm, stroke: 75mm, compression ratio: 8.0:1).

    The STi's transmission is also extensively reworked. Of most significance is the addition of the six-speed gearbox from the Japanese STi. This is a close ratio gearbox though, giving the driver plenty to do. The clutch is uprated to cope, and 'Suretrac' limited slip differentials are fitted to both ends of the car, giving the chassis even more ability in the wet.

    It appears that nothing has been forgotten! Even the steering rack is a little quicker than the WRX item. The suspension bushing is uprated all round, which nicely complements the use of inverted struts. As used on the Subaru WRC car, this is claimed to give superior geometry control and damping performance, especially during hard driving. As if this car would be used in such a way...

    Unless your name is Richard Burns.

    Relevant links:
    Subaru UK website
    2001 Frankfurt Motor Show - the car's first public appearance

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