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WRX STi 320R › Legacy › Forester › Prodrive › Autosport
e will make no apologies for this Subaru special issue of Road Magazine, so if you’re not a fan of the incredible Pleiades star cluster brand, just read Neil Cole’s column & Autosport 2012! Road are big fans of the reliable, durable, practical and above all, interesting Japanese brand Subaru, the “farmer’s choice.” I’ve owned a Legacy, a Forester and countless “Imprezas,” as they used to be know, including two WRX STi Version II Type RA (Race Altered) beasties, which I still miss today. The RA was a simply awesome A-B car, in any weather and latterly became a modified 911-eating track weapon (pic above). In fact, the old “Farmer’s choice” tag line isn’t justifiable to the modern Subaru brand. Sure, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) Legacy, Forester and Outback models are still hugely popular with rural types. But, thanks to radically improved build quality, range consistency, the introduction of the world’s first horizontally-opposed Boxer diesel engine and brilliant brand advertising, Subarus are now a much more popular motor manufacturer for the masses. Not to mention the exciting new BRZ coupe and XV crossover. And even though, most sadly, the WRX STi is no longer a contender in the World Rally Championship, thanks to an uber-loyal clubman rally and performance car fanatical fan base, the WRX STi is still a well-loved car. And rightly so, as we found out with the latest, tuned version – the 320R – on a road trip from the south-east to north-west, to the epic Lake District. We also feature Forester and Legacy models, with the award-winning Boxer diesel engine, to assess their many, quite different charms. Additionally, our new columnist, TV star, Neil Cole gives his monthly motorsport rant, in ‘Cole Position,’ and we spotlight the Autosport Show 2012, in a Mitsubishi L200. Hope you enjoy it, FREE, as ever! It’s flat-four-tastic! Road Editor, Phil Royle (PS: Click on link bubbles above to follow us!)
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Thought by many (fools) to be just the “farmers choice,” we remember the Legacy in Colin McRae’s hands, and the DNA still stands, even though it’s now a diesel
eing massive rally fans at Road, we have fond memories of Subaru, even before the Impreza (or WRX STi as it’s now referred to) was born. Back in 1990, a new name emerged in rallying – the Subaru Legacy RS. And whilst it never obtained the cult status of its impetuous Impreza younger brother to follow, the Legacy paved the way, laying down the iconic Subaru foundations: EJ20 two-litre, quad cam, flat four Boxer turbo engine and symmetrical all-wheeldrive. Pure Subaru DNA.
And when a certain Colin McRae won the 1991 British Rally Championship in one, the WRC came knocking. This resulted in McRae taking second in the 1992 Swedish Rally, Ari Vatanen coming second in the 1992 RAC and even more in 1993 – with McRae winning Rally New Zealand. Subaru had made its mark in the WRC. History was being written. Roll forward a decade and yes, Subaru are sadly no longer in the WRC and it’s a long time since I saw a Legacy on the stages, but don’t be fooled... that core genet-
ic make-up still resides in the C21st Subaru Legacy. This Arctic White model on test is the top-of-the Boxer Diesel range Subaru Legacy 2.0D SE NavPlus. And it’s still a two-litre turbo (albeit a diesel nowadays) and it still has the legendary “subaglue” All-Wheel-Drive. The rally DNA is intact. And that’s what makes the Legacy Diesel stand out from its VW Passat and Ford Mondeo rivals – AWD grip and quirky horizontallyopposed flat four turbo Boxer engine (a world first). Don’t get me wrong, this
150PS, 350Nm, 1690Kg modern estate is a far cry from it’s old 200bhp, 220lbft, 1200Kg petrol turbo, rally-bred dad, but it’s trying to different. And succeeding. There are three Legacy Diesels on offer, all with six-speed manual gearbox (slick, meaty and direct), AWD and 1998cc, 150PS, 350Nm Boxer Diesel engine. The base 2.0D S starts at £24,810. The SE model starts at £27,015 – adding 18-inch rims, black leather interior and a sports grille/ front bumper. Then there’s the NavPlus model we have on test, from £29,315 – adding a full colour, touch screen Sat Nav (excellent), reversing camera and smart keyless entry. Even base models come fully loaded too, with dual climate control, auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, massive boot and an electric sunroof (why don’t
more cars have these today?). And the SE and NavPlus models want for nothing. They are spec-tastic, as standard. German car makers, take note. So, the new, grownup Legacy is generously equipped, looks great, is more reliable and practical than ever and is superbly comfortable and refined for travelling long journeys. But what’s it like to drive? Bloody marvellous we think. The low centre of gravity the Boxer engine and gearbox configuration offer, combined with the handling-focused ride and symmetrical AWD provide frankly stupid levels of grip... WAY beyond the poke of the engine. This set-up could cope with twice the power level. Not that the performance is poor. On paper, it sounds a bit under whelming: 0-62mph in 9.6s and only 126mph. But, on a dark road, in the wet, up a steep hill, foot planted, you’d think it had more. A lot more. It
feels quick. Not powerful, but by God, it’s got some mid-range torque, and it wants to rev, unlike conventional four-pot oil burners. And, more crucially, the long wheel base Legacy puts its power down so perfectly. You hardly ever need lift off. It holds on to the road so well, whatever the weather. The Legacy also copes brilliantly with being offroad – although not as well at it’s Outback brother, with similar DNA and specs, just a jacked-up ride height, allowing even braver off-road jaunts. So, the Legacy is still the “farmer’s choice” – only now the farmer can go to market in style and comfort, at pace and with frugality (44mpg combined). Perfect. It’s not the Legacy quad cam turbo I grew up with, pretending to be McRae in, but with it’s Subaru DNA, this AWD, flat four turbo is still a quirky, different winner – only on the road, not in the forests these days. roadmagazine.co.uk
Lesley Ann Albiston
Neil Cole is Road’s new motorsport columnist: “Clipping all the apexes, and dotting all the Ümlauts!” Neil, a man of many talents – part comedian and part TV presenter – has appeared on our screens covering WRC with Dave, motorsport on ESPN, Motors TV, the BBC, ITV, C4, MTV, AXN, UKTV, Extreme Sports Channel, The Audi Channel and Sky One. He is also a producer for World Series by Renault. Top guy & talented scribe...
onte Carlo? Bust! So Sebastien Loeb has won the Monte Carlo Rally. Yes I mean THIS year – it’s happened already. You missed it? Well... you’re not alone... Despite being one of the World’s Biggest Marquee Motorsport Events (up there with Le Mans 24 Hours, Indianapolis 500, Banger Racing at Wimbledon Dog Track) it was almost a stealth event this year, blipping on the radars of only the hardiest of rally fans. Loeb won by a worryingly comfortable margin. Latvala and Ogier
crashed out by worryingly uncomfortable margins. Hirvonen is taking his time to adapt from Fiesta to DS3, while the newly-bearded Petter Solberg has found the switch in the opposite direction much easier – and it is great to see him in Ford overalls again after all this time. Other points arising – Novikov managed to be extremely quick WITHOUT crashing, so maybe we will need a new nickname for him as “NovikOFF” may no longer apply... And at 49-years-old (which is nearly 200 in sportsman-years) Francois Delecour proved to be more than just a gentilhommedriver, posting three scratch times and finishing 6th. And – far from the Panizzi-fuelled fisticuffs of yesteryear – the Frenchman was so magnanimous in 2012 he allowed his co-driver, Dominique Savignoni the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC to drive the final stage, as a goldwatch retirement gift. What a gent. If Loeb had offered his navigator the same honour, I reckon Daniel Elena would have stopped at a boulangerie for pies on the way. I mean – they certainly had time. At this point I should mention MINI WRC and their triumphant return to the Monte after first winning it in 1964 (when Delecour was one year old). Except I won’t. I’m still
sulking over their dastardly dumping of Kris Meeke. The elephant in the room here, though, is: coverage. With only days to go before the WRC field were due to start reccying those classic switchbacks up & down the Maritime Alps, it was clear that North One Sport had lost the global promoter rights, meaning that North One TV had most likely lost the broadcasting contract. Which was heart-and-bank-breaking for many very close friends of mine, working in production or logistics, talented stage-cameramen, everyone – their 2012 plans just disappeared. Bigger picture, the 80th Rallye Monte Carlo needed to be broadcast. Eurosport stepped up, and did a good job in a very short amount of time. One of the biggest and saddest ironies here, however, is this: The rally’s timetable had been arranged around a contractual obligation with North One Sport to broadcast much of the event LIVE on TV. Just like Eurosport did so brilliantly in 2011, when the event was still in the IRC. In fact, its re-introduction to the WRC was conditional on North One being able to match Eurosport’s live TV commitment. So! By removing North One (who had set everything up for the LIVE coverage) and en-
“I should mention MINI WRC... Except I won’t... I’m still sulking over their dastardly dumping of Kris Meeke” gaging Eurosport (for whom it was too late to organise & schedule the LIVE coverage) the rally lost its global TV platform, we didn’t get those breathtaking live onboards from behind light-pods as the drivers power through a dark Col De Turini and even the Power Stage – the ONE stage of every WRC we have grown accustomed to seeing LIVE – wasn’t available to watch live. As the Italians say “che gran casino!” – meaning “what a big MESS!” In fact, appropriately enough around the principality of Monaco – it was Casino Squared. And, between you & me, I’m not betting it will all be 100% sorted by the time we get to Sweden either. @neilcole on twitter www.neilcole.org
Loeb makes a splash at the 2012 Monte. Quelle surprise! And a big pity no-one even noticed.
WORDS & PICS: WWW.ROYLEMEDIA.CO.UK
320R: the long goodbye?
The already-rapid WRX STi just got rabid. Enter the 320R, a re-mapped, Sat-Nav-equipped upgrade STi, costing nowt! Torque amongst yourselves, as we blat to the Lakes!
rayers please! This may very well be the last 300+bhp WRX STi we will ever see. Maybe. You see, with the slick, normally-aspirated BRZ Coupe and XV Crossover in the pipelines/headlines, Boxer Diesel Subarus selling well, rampantly rising fuel prices and a dwindling demand for 300bhp turbo nutter barges, Subaru’s red
hot, super-guzzling STi days are numbered. Sadly. Sign of the times folks... Last year, we saw the last hoorah of the hatchback WRX STi, with the incredible, ballistic Cosworth Impreza STi CS400, offering 0-62mph in 3.7s and 165mph from its 395bhp, 400lbft Cossie lump. But that was (a) too much money for most, at £49,995, (b)
too exclusive for all, with only 75 being made and (c) too fragile for thug drivers, with some blowing up (allegedly, as we are told). Enter the 320R – hot shoe saloon STi for the masses. It is (a) a bargain, at the same £32,995 as the regular 295bhp WRX STi + 20bhp and nav (b) open to all STi purchasers, at order, or retro-fitted and (c) not going
â€œin the soaked lake District, not much could touch it...â€?
to self-detonate. The 320R offers a 20bhp power hike over an STi to 316bhp (from 296bhp) and 332lbft (from 300lbft) even lower down the rev range (at 3400rpm as opposed 4000rpm) – making it ultra accessible and very usable (unlike the big turbo, laggy Cosworth CS400 special). The extra grunt is achieved with a simple, no-hardware, but software “re-map” of the 2,457cc flat four engine’s ECU – raising boost pressure slightly, advancing the ignition and trimming the fuel map. Rumour has it, the data came via an exProdrive re-mapper. Pure rally DNA inside. This re-map usually costs £799 and the touch screen Sat Nav also would add
£750, equating to £1,549 added to the £32,995 asking price. But, in an attempt to draw folk to the WRX STi, the ECU re-map and Sat Nav come free – creating the ‘320R’ STi upgrade, unbadged, for maximum stealth. We likey! Performance is noticeably increased: The 0-62mph figure drops from 5.2s to 4.9s (and we recorded a 4.69s using V-Box on test). And the effects of the re-map are felt across the rev range. Turbo spool-up is quicker at low rpm, giving more instant pick-up, mid-range punch is very STi-like... and some, and the 320R packs a bigger punch at high rpm. You’ll find the red rev limiter light flashing up far faster than in a regular STi.
It sounds better too. More whizzing, whistling, wastegate flutter and flat four burble of old – must be all that extra boost. And, when the 2.5-litre STi engine and quad exhaust pipes are hot, the 320R back pops on the over-run nicely, as we noticed, with the warbling
exhaust noise reverberating off the hillsides and dry stone walls of the glorious Lake District – a road network and weather pattern born for the WRX STi and one the 320R consumes with gusto, raising big man smiles, and lady screams! Behind the first rate remap
and very capable Sat Nav, the 320R is the usual beefy, butch, burly, boosty beast of old. Grip levels are incredible, come what may. And with Si-Drive in Sport Sharp, dynamic control off and DCCD set open, it’s pure road-bred rally car kicks. Here in the soaked
Lake District, not much could touch it. The new Impreza is along next year. Let’s hope they make another hot STi for us die hard Impreza fans. What??? I did say maybe this was the last one! Thankfully, it’ll be a long goodbye: Long live STi!
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Subaru Forester: All the car you’ll ever need?
Few vehicles can claim they go off-road, seat five in comfort, carry loads of gear, stick to the road like glue and cruise economically, stylishly, quickly. Here’s one...
e think the Forester is most underrated. A few years back, I ran an old Mk1 STurbo. It cost me £1500, was quick, reliable and fun. And a mate of mine just bought a two-litre old shape Mk1 for £600, and it’s only ever needed brake pads and oil. Now, the Mk2 Forester XT’s, with the rapid 2.5-litre, 230bhp Turbo engine are now only about £6-7000. Bargain. Foresters are bullet-proof, capable, unique and bring a smile to you face – on or off road. The third generation For-
ester now comes with three 145bhp/350Nm two-litre Boxer Diesels, with sixspeed manual gearboxes – 2.0D X, 2.0D XC (adding 17-inch rims, fab panoramic sunroof, and HiD lights) and 2.0 D XS NavPlus models (DVD Sat Nav, 7-speakers inc. sub-woofer, Bluetooth, keyless entry and rear reversing camera), from £23,070, £25,070 and £29,070 respectively. Then there are two petrol variants, 2.0 X and 2.0 XS, from £21,370 and £25,370. These come with a fivespeed, dual range transmis-
sion or four-speed auto, ABS and airbags galore. The SX adds Climate Control and luxury goods. What we have on test is the range topping 2.0D XS NavPlus. At a whisker under £30,000, it’s not as great value as the rest of the range, but equipment levels are very generous. With the new 2.0-litre Boxer diesel engine, Subaru claims it returns 7.2% better fuel economy (up to 47.9mpg), lower emissions (155g/km) and increased torque (258lbft, accessible from just 600-2400rpm,
which is 200rpm better). It’s also a more refined oil-burner than the first generation Boxer D. Thankfully, the flat four Diesel still likes to rev and uses incredible ignition advance, new camshaft profiles and a clever variable vane geometry turbocharger – giving you all that grunt, when you want it, which is a lot more than most 2.5-litre conventional four-pots do. Plus it still sounds better than most diesels, and offers that classic Subaru low centre of gravity – vital for flat handling, especially
in a heavy SUV. 0-62mph is claimed at a lowly 10.6 seconds and top speed just 116mph, but it doesn’t feel that sluggish. And, once rolling, it’s got good acceleration. Naturally, flat handling you do get, even though the springs are quite soft (aiding you off-road and with ride comfort). And you also get incredible levels of mechanical grip from the symmetrical all-wheel drive. The Forester feels stable, safe and solid at any speed, on any road, in any condition. It takes a lot of beat-
ing. The steering could have better feel, but that’s a minor criticism. Gear changes via the meaty six-speed are a joy. The transmission is faultless. Aesthetically, the Mk3 now also has a new chrome finish on the grille, compact aero wing mirrors, a fresh instrument binnacle and new multi-function steering wheel. The interior is as hard-wearing, comfortable and practical as ever. It’s never going to win any awards for panache, but that’s not the Forester’s
bag. It’s about the drive. We drove the Forester on a long-haul motorway drag into a city, and found it to be a very relaxed, swift journey. We blasted it down a few soaked b-roads, and had a laugh... doing cornering speeds a lot of hot hatches would struggle with
in the wet, mud and ice. And we took the Forester into fields and it never ever looked like getting stuck, despite the deep muds and ruts. Some 15% cheaper than a Land Rover Freelander TD4, faster, better equipped, better looking and more reli-
able, I’m not sure why there aren’t more Foresters on the road to be honest. If you fancy a car for all-seasons and reasons, the rugged, different, flat-four Forester is a fab choice. And if you want one on a budget... get to a local auction for a £600 Mk1, or £6K Mk2: Ace!
Autosport 2012: Uk catalyst
The annual Autosport Show, also including the ace www.pistonheads.com show, is always a ‘start your engines’ for the motorsport year ahead. Ready?
very January, the NEC in Birmingham plays host to the annual Autosport show, now also incorporating a separate hall from the excellent
www.pistonheads.com, and it’s like a barometer for the health, wealth and year ahead of the motorsport and indeed motor manufacturer industries.
And, whilst the news cheerfully tells us we are about to enter another “double dip” recession, no one would know here at Autosport. Thank God! Maybe it’s just because we haven’t been for a year, but we were impressed by the scale, imagination, products, optimism and quality on offer – from large, medium and small motorsportmad companies. Bravo! This year’s main event was an impressive homage to Ayrton Senna, showing off
some of his incredible karts and F1 cars. That was nice. Stars on stage included David Couthard, Jake Humphries and Paul DiResta. But the real stars for us, were the cars. And credit where it’s due, the PistonHeads stand was amazing, with a jaw-dropping display of some of the world’s best supercars on sale today, including the ace BAC Mono at the heart. And they had the comfiest place to sit down at the entire show, the PH sofas! Nice touch.
BMW chose Autosport to launch the new 3-Series, but we ignored that and preferred their chromewrapped M3 they had on display. Bitchin! Porsche stole the show with their (deep breath) carbon-fibre reinforced plastic 918 RSR concept – using the 911 Hybrid technology, with two 201bhp electric motors, linked to a 555bhp V8 offering 10,300rpm, making a 756bhp race ace monster. Awesome. We also loved Dave
Rowe’s incredible all-white Audi Quattro, which, in his own words “took seven years and two divorces to build.” It was eye-wateringly beautiful, and well worth the marital strife! Coys had an incredible load of super-buff race, rally and historic supercars on their auction stand, at frightening prices. We wanted the ex-works Metro 6R4. And, highlighting their current popularity, there was a lot of historic rally cars too. 2012? Good year? Hope so!
Autosport transport: Mitsubishi L200
Road travelled to the Autosport Show across fields, to miss the traffic, in a fabulous L200 Warrior
ravelling from Norfolk to Birmingham, you need to use the horrendous A14. Or do you? For a laugh, and to test out the ÂŁ23,610, 2.5-litre, 175bhp, 295lbft L200 Warrior (mid-way through the bewildering L200 range), we
took the scenic route, on green lanes, off-road. Granted, it took a while. But what fun. And how well the comfy, spacious, wellequipped L200 coped. Then it ate motorway miles too. Itâ€™s SO much motor for your money. Just get a manual.
TESTING & IMAGES BY PHIL ROYLE
ROAD Ed, Phil Royle, gets a private test of the £123,000 Prodrive Impreza N2010 on their fabulous proving ground – fresh back from podium finishes in South Africa and Sweden – and finds a faultless rally weapon, ready to devour special stages
rodrive – “where inspiration and innovation combine” – to make some of the world’s greatest one-off performance, rally and race cars. Surely one of the greatest names in motorsport, and certainly one of the best of British brands? Definitely, ever car I have ever tested they have been involved with has been sublime, verging on perfection. And, I’m just about to test their latest offering – the N2010 Group N Impreza rally car: The most competitive rally car in its class (in the last decade, it has won the Production World Rally Championship six times and has
had many more victories in privateer hands). This particular car is fresh back from two podium finishes in both the South African and Swedish rallies, perfectly prepped and shining for our test today, after a weekend of hard graft by the Prodrive magician mechanics. The test is taking place at Prodrive’s own private testing facility, a few miles north of their main production facility off the M40 at Banbury – deep in the countryside, away from prying eyes. The N2010 is the latest in a long and successful line of Group N Imprezas, built to take part in the PWRC, uniquely engineered to
comply with stringent FIA regulations, which now include the use of a larger (33mm) turbo restrictor, making this the most powerful and torquey Impreza yet – hand-built on the most impressive Impreza chassis to date. It’s fair to say, I’m expecting a lot... The starting point for the N2010 is a Japanese-spec WRX STi, coming with the EJ20 two-litre, quad-cam Boxer engine. Prodrive then strip the car to a bare shell, before hand-re-building the STi with a veritable army of fabulous parts, starting with their own special breed of roll cage and chassis strengthening. More than
“This is the best GpN Impreza chassis Prodrive has ever built”
200 man hours (and 80m of high tensile steel) go into this process alone, before attention is drawn to the engine, suspension, transmission, brakes, wheels, tyres, interior and exterior. New for the N2010 – to maximise the gains (c20 bhp and a whole heap more torque) from the larger turbo restrictor – are larger fuel injectors, new stage III Pectel ECU re-mapping software (complete with three-stage ALS anti-lag-system maps and launch control) and a Titanium exhaust system. There are also uprated maps for the Driver Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD), to help get all this new-found grunt down to the grippy four-wheel-drive. Ohlins have re-worked the three-way adjustable TTX and TPX dampers to suit the new 2010 Impreza, which also has performance uprated bushes all round, complimenting the hard graft done on the chassis
itself. And, as one of the chief testers said whilst showing me its bionic limits out on the airfield, “this is, without doubt, the best GpN chassis Prodrive has ever built.” Praise indeed. The N2010 also comes with an animal of a dogtooth gearbox and competition driveshafts, to cope with the rigours of the modern special stage. And, whilst being tough enough for the job in hand, they are also remarkable user-friendly and compliant; making them easy to drive, fast, which, of course, is where the tenths are made out in the forests. Needless to say, the brakes are also uprated, with excellent AP Racing gravel (as tested today) and tarmac set-ups. Inside, the finish is as you would expect from Prodrive – immaculate, and again, highly user friendly. Just take a look at the finish quality in the images roadmagazine.co.uk
overleaf... enough said? The new 5.5-inch engine and transmission information LCD screen is brilliant, allowing Prodrive engineers to diagnose problems for customers (who can now buy these amazing cars on finance, over two years, with an option to buy the car at the end) over the phone, with ease. Prodrive’s level of customer support, parts supply, driver training and testing and development are second to none in this field, head and shoulders over the competition. The switchgear, Sparco seats, intercom, steering wheel and harnesses are all absolutely perfect too.
As is the look – competition white, bespattered in lightweight, tough and beautiful carbonfibre (including an amazing roof vent and mirrors, with integral indicators). And yet some of the already well-designed OE STi clocks and DCCD controls are maintained. Lush! I get 10 laps of the tarmac track to find out what it’s like, and words fail me: The N2010 is by far the most neutral rally car I’ve ever driven; turning in effortlessly at frankly insane speeds, changing direction in an instant and with minimal understeer and a perfectly-controllable, fourwheel-drift-tastic oversteer
bias. The brakes are bionic, with perfect feel, requiring proper effort to get them working. Grip levels are off the scale. The dog box is slick, and quick as sick; with a perfect movement and bite. And the engine has so much low down and mid-range torque it’s frankly ridiculous, making the N2010 bonkers quick to its relatively tame 130 mph Vmax (more than enough for the PWRC special stages). If you want to win in PWRC, and you have the money, then get an N2010... it’s that simple. It’ll be the best decision & fun, you’ve ever made, and Prodrive’s service is truly outstanding.
esting the N2010 was enough of a treat for a rally & Impreza nut like me, but, as if that weren’t the dog’s dangles, Prodrive had also wheeled out two of its most prized and priceless possessions: Two of my all-time rally hereos. First, there was the wide arch, utterly stunning, first of the new breed WRC cars, WRC97001, as
driven by Colin McRae, Kenneth Eriksson and Piero Liatti. And then there was the legendary Subaru World Rally Team, Group A ‘555’ beast, with its double roof vents and yellow lamps. Both cars were in their most famous liveries, with the names of the two, now most sorely missed, rally hereos of all time: McRae and Burns. WOW!
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Published on Feb 3, 2012
Road Magazine test drives the "Subaglue" effect, on the soaked, icy roads of the Lake District in a re-mapped WRX STi 320R, takes a pair of...