The Impreza WRX STI is no longer an Impreza. Subaru UK dropped the prefix three years ago in an effort to distance the turbocharged 4x4 from the more ordinary Impreza hatches it was trying to sell at the time.
The passage of those three years hasn’t, however, made the idea of an Impreza STI that isn’t an Impreza at all seem any less strange to us. Subaru stops short of calling this a ground-up new car, but there’s not a lot that has been left untouched.
The new bodyshell is wider, lower, longer of wheelbase and 140 percent stiffer than that of the last STI saloon, giving notable improvements in ride and handling, they say. The bodywork, too, is all new, and to our eyes it’s a marked improvement on the bland amorphousness that went before.
The suspension has been modified rather than replaced. Stiffer cross-members and bushings feature front and rear, as well as thicker anti-roll bars and slightly altered mounting points that increase toe-in at the back and ground contact under load at the front. The hydraulic power steering has also been replaced, with a stiffer column and quicker gearing fitted.
The engine and drivetrain remain largely unaltered. That means you get 2.5 litres of burbling flat four driving all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox (with a shorter throw and new scissor springs and detent profiles) and through a viscous limited-slip centre differential with driver-selectable front or rear bias.