Subaru fans can rejoice, as the WRX STI is making a welcome return to UK showrooms.
Previously earning itself a legion of fans when it was sold under the Impreza model name, thanks to its prodigious performance and vice-like four-wheel drive grip, Subaru took the decision last year to discontinue the performance saloon from the UK line-up.
The reason for the move was declining sales in the face of ever more competent hot hatchbacks, which could not only match the Subaru in performance terms, but offered buyers lower emissions and greater fuel economy.
Now, however, the all-new model, which was unveiled yesterday at the Detroit motor show, will make it into dealerships in time for summer, priced from £28,995 on the road – £4,000 cheaper than the previous model.
Under the bonnet is the familiar Subaru recipe: a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine, developing 301bhp. Power is channeled to all four wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.
Performance figures have yet to be revealed, but expect the new WRX STI to get from 0-62mph in less than five seconds and go on to a top speed over 160mph.
As befits a performance flagship, the STI has been extensively revised over the standard Subaru WRX on which it is based. The new car gets recalibrated suspension for a more compliant ride, while the electronic power steering has been altered for improved driver feedback.
The interior has also been revised, resulting in greater passenger space and a larger boot compared to the outgoing model. Improvements have also been made in material quality, with greater use of metallic trim items and soft-touch fabrics.
Fans of the model will be glad to hear the new WRX STI still wears the trademark huge rear wing, and will be available in the iconic blue with gold wheels colour scheme.
Paul Tunnicliffe, Subaru UK Managing Director, said: “We wanted to acknowledge the following the WRX STI has, and while both the market and the brand in the UK has changed in recent years, the WRX STI remains a demonstration of Subaru’s technical know-how.
“The new model will only be available in limited numbers when it goes on sale in summer nevertheless we were keen to give our performance car fans the opportunity to try it here for themselves.”
If you’d rather buy used, you can search for a Subaru Impreza in our classifieds here.