Subaru Impreza STI Cosworth road test

Can Cosworth's magic transform the Impreza into a stunning driver's car? Ollie Marriage finds out.

Price
from £49,995
  • Nice to see the Cosworth name back
  • Too flawed to be fabulous

What is it?

It’s the Subaru Impreza CS400, known from here on as the Impreza Cosworth. Only 75 will be built, each costing a hefty £49,995, £22,405 more than a regular Impreza STi.

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Technical highlights?

Engines are Cosworth’s forte, so it stands to reason that the 2.5-litre flat-four should be pretty special. Outputs of 395bhp and 400lb ft are certainly eye-catching, coming courtesy of a new pistons, conrods, bearings, head gasket, oil pump and turbo.

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What’s it like to drive?

The trouble is the extensive modifications – to suspension as well as engine – haven’t resulted in a stunning driving experience. The flat four is surprisingly laggy with boost arriving in a rush after 3500rpm. From there on it’s mightily rapid, and consumes each of its gears very quickly. Too quickly. Longer gearing would have helped matters.

As would weightier steering. As it stands it’s too light and wayward around the straight-ahead, meaning the CS400 doesn’t move into the first part of a corner with anything like the determination and energy it should. There’s even a little understeer. Until you get back on the power, where the 4wd struts its stuff, order is restored, traction is found and the Impreza does what it does best – gets out of the corner in a jiffy, gasping for the next gear.

The tight, mechanical gearshift is good by the way, as is the ride quality and there’s no denying the Impreza Cossie has suitably immense cross country pace. The trouble is it doesn’t feel fully polished and the flaws are hard to overlook.

How does it compare?

As you can read in this month’s magazine – on sale next Wednesday – Ford’s Focus RS500 aims to give the hottest Impreza a run for its money. It may be front wheel drive and 50bhp down, but it’s a fearsomely adept hot hatch and you can read our web review of it here.

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Anything else I need to know?

Aside from a few cosmetic tweaks outside (mesh grilles, anthracite wheels) and some piano black trim inside, the Impreza hasn’t really been upgraded and comes across as rather dated, making it struggle even harder to justify the £49,995 asking price.

Specifications

EngineFlat 4cyl, 2457cc, turbocharged
Max power395bhp/5750rpm
Max torque400lb ft/3950rpm
0-603.7secs (claimed)
Top speed155mph (limited)
On saleJuly
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