Sure, they provide a veritable white-knuckle ride of speed and handling, but the interior quality and comfort factor is often compromised.
Not so with the Subaru Impreza WRX STi Type-UK. Aside from having one of the longest names in the car market, it has an attractive, decent quality interior compared to its main rival, the Mitsubishi Evo. And its ride isn’t as bone-crunchingly hard either.
Not that the STi is soft, by any measure. The huge bonnet scoop and rear wing give it the aggressive presence to match its punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine. Usually this produces 265bhp and 253lb ft torque, but until the end of September Subaru is offering buyers a free Prodrive-developed performance upgrade that boosts the STi to 300bhp and 299lb ft. This is normally a £1,995 dealer-fit option. The result is a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds.
The 2005 STi has a number of revisions over the old model. Significant changes to the suspension geometry and steering, together with the now standard driver’s control centre differential, yaw-rate sensor and front helical limited-slip differential, provide better stability and balance on slippery surfaces and during cornering.
So, the STi is great for the driver, but it’s versatile for the family as well. While not everybody wants its in-your-face styling, there are plenty of young fathers who aspire to owning one. Subaru has sold 885 WRX and 563 STi models so far this year.
Great pace, sharp handling, fantastic noise
Insurers hate them, fuel consumption
Sell the buyer a speed trap detector at the same time
Banned drivers won’t be long-term customers
The slightly more sane alternative to an Evo
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 4-cylinder boxer; 300bhp, 299lbft torque (265bhp 253lb ft without performance pack)
Performance: 0-62mph: 4.6sec; top speed: 155mph
Transmission: Five-speed manual, 4wd
Efficiency 25.4mpg (combined), 265g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £10,350 (40%)
Rivals: Mitsubishi Evo, VW Golf R32, AudiS4, Alfa Romeo 156 GTA