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Subaru ii The AWD Boxer brand is booming globally

WRX STi 340R › NEW Forester › Outback Alps Run ›XV SUV


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legend of modern motoring is dead – the ROYLE MEDIA & ROAD iconic WRX/STi, aka Impreza – at least for Road Magazine is published by now, in the UK. So, to pay our respects in this happy publishing & PR team, Royle Media. Contact us for your own second Subaru special of Road, we test drive the brand magazine – print or diggy last of the line, the WRX STi 340R in the Lake District. Subaru says they may bring it back, with “suf- – and perfect PR or SoMe. ficient support” – so buy a 340R if you can afford it! Phil & Bonnie Royle Despite the UK’s WRX sorry story, 2012 was a record year for Subaru globally – showing strong growth in US, China, Canada and Australia. They sold 706,000 units globally (the biggest markets ROAD SNAPPER: Neil Denham now the US, China & Japan), with 50,000 sales in Europe, and 2,100 in the UK. Come on Brits! Sadly, the UK market has been very challenging ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke over the past 2-3 years, hampered by a strong Yen. But Subaru say: “This is currently improving in the UK’s favour and with the new Forester to launch ROAD RACER: Neil Primrose and now greater supply of BRZ, we have renewed optimism for 2013 and beyond.” And so they should: The BRZ is brilliant. As are the other two cars we have on test this month – the ROAD I.T GURU: Steve Davies class-leading XV SUV and the dependable, unstoppable, under-rated Outback, which we take on an Follow Road on Twitter, like us on epic 1,555 mile Alpine adventure this month. And Facebook, enjoy our daily blog & there’s a new Forester launching in May, which we visit our Royle Media publishing & also have details of in this issue, and will test soon. PR website, by clicking on the blob links below. Subaru also have some great finance offers around, plus 3 year free servicing on Legacy right now. So, there’s never been a better time to get into a Subaru... and bring back the WRX STi.


A farewell to arms

Road says goodbye to an old friend, the Impreza WRX, with the final swansong the fabulous 340R STi


his is the last of a line of legends – the final swan song of the (Impreza) WRX STi, the 340R: Sad times. And a sign of the ties, sadly. Subaru has decided to stop importing the AWD turbo nutter, rally-bred practical performance icon, after two wonderful decades.

Now I must confess to having a serious soft spot for the Impreza, or WRX as it became known latterly. I’ve owned five of them, in UK and JDM specification. The highlight for me was the old classic Impreza, the GC8, in Type RA (Race Altered) form – lightweight (under 1,200Kg), ballistic,

agile and equipped with the all-important, understeerquelling DCCD (Driver Controlled Centre Differential), not to mention short ratio gearbox and rally-tastic roof vent. I loved that car – in the road spec I bought it in, and the rally/sprint car, strippedout, caged-up spec it ended up in after much work by

rezas there have been – the Prodrive-fettled RB5 being my favourite of the UK cars, and the road-going-WRC 22B being the ultimate of the JDM cars: Absolute stars, the lot of them. And I haven’t even got started on the rally cars. Let’s not forget, Colin McRae won the ex-WRC spanner supremo, WRC in 1995 in his... Richard Bulmer of Tracktive Subaru says: “While we Solutions. It was an absofully understand and apprelute giant killer. It may have ciate the following the WRX ‘only’ had c360bhp, but it has had over the years, the was so light and so well market has changed in the set-up, it could lunch pretty UK and the current version much anything, driven in had become a very slow anger. I still miss it today. seller, hindered by uncomAnd then you think back to petitive running costs and all the legendary road Impthe unfavourable Yen ex-

change rates. We will nevertheless continue to monitor and evaluate that particular segment; should we decide there is sufficient demand for any new model in the future, then we will evaluate its competitiveness.” And, in honour of the car that made Subaru a household name, they’ve sent the brand out in style – with the 340R, as tested here in the Lake District; the perfect environment for a WRX. The 340R is a base WRX STi – now priced at a bargain £26,995 – with an additional £1,599 performance pack, consisting of a backpressure-reducing exhaust

system and a re-map of the factory STi ECU. The end result is a £28,594 car that knocks out 335bhp @ 5,400rpm (up from 296bhp standard STi) and a huge 361lbft (from 300lbft). This makes it capable of 0-62mph in 4.6-seconds, some half a second faster than standard. And top speed is limited to 158mph. Try getting that sort of power and performance per pound anywhere else... The performance hike is massively noticeable. The 340R really boosts hard when the turbo spools up around 3-3,500rpm and it’s odd school turbo thrills – with a proper bang in the back, pinning your head to the lush Recaro buckets seats, right to the 7,000rpm redline, marked by a flashing shift light on the slick STi dash. And, thanks to the tidal wave of torque on tap (so long as you’re over that 3,500rpm mark), acceleration is brutal in any of the

gears on the slick six-speed gearbox – one of the most direct, tough and tactile on the market. The 340R is especially fast and frantic if you switch the i-Drive system to ‘sport sharp’ – which really lets the re-mapped ECU show off, with full boost, lots of ignition advance and a superb throttle response, especially for an engine with a turbo this size strapped to its ass. Best of all, the exhaust they have fitted gives you a dose of that classic ‘Boxer burble’ and howls at full chat, hissing, popping and cracking with a lift. Magic! The ride and handling are truly exceptional too, as ever, as are grip levels, whatever the weather or road camber. If anything, some of the sharpness of the steering of the old STi models has gone, which is a shame, as it disconnects you from what is a fabulous, fun, focused drive. As a fitting fond farewell, the 340R does a top job.

STi heroes: Mark Higgins’ TT record & 2011 Nurburgring Class Winner


here’s been so many amazing Imprezas over the years, but two of our favourites in recent years (that we witnessed first-hand) were: Mark Higgins smashing the Isle of Man TT course lap record in a road STi (including the best catch ever leaving Douglas!) and the STi-backed tS racer, getting a 2011 Nurburgring 24-Hour class win, completing 142 laps and kicking ass. Nice!


Forth Gen Forester New Forester will include 240PS petrol turbo model


ubaru has announced the pricing for one of their most popular models (and a personal favourite of the magazine), the Fourth generation Forester – which features a whole host of improvements and new technologies. The new car will start at £24,995 for the 2.0D X, ris-

ing to £30,995 for the range topping 2.0i XT. The all-new, fourth-generation Forester goes on sale across the network in May and “will build upon the model’s reputation as a go-anywhere, userfriendly SUV with improved performance, safety and efficiency and a more spacious and better appointed cabin.”

Naturally, Subaru’s unique Symmetrical, low centre of gravity All-Wheel Drive system remains at the heart of the Forester. And the new car is expected to have improved body rigidity, refinement and a typically engaging drive on the road. The engine line-up will inester by model is as follows: clude 2.0-litre Boxer diesel Petrol models and petrol units. And Subaru 2.0i XE, £25,495 will return to its Forester roots 2.0i XE CVT, £26,995 with the introduction of a new 2.0i XE Premium, £27,495 2.0-litre direct injection turbo2.0i XE Prem. CVT, £28,995 charged petrol engine (hoo2.0i XT CVT, £30,995 ray!), producing 240PS. All Diesel models the engines have significantly improved CO2 and economy figures over outgoing models. Full pricing for the new For-

2.0D X, £24,995 2.0D X, £26,995 2.0D X Premium, £28,995 Full technical specifications and details will be released on April 15, so stay tuned at www.roadmagazine.blogspot. for the latest on this

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Alpine Outback

We road trip Subaru’s much under-rated Outback 1,555 miles to the Alps

New Garmin Nuvi 3590 L MT got a proper 1 ,555 mile tes t


he true test of whether a car is any good to live with is a proper road trip. And our recent 1,555 mile run from the Norfolk flats to the Alpine peaks was just that for arguably the most under-rated car ever – Subaru’s no-fuss, alladventure Outback. The Outback made its debut in 1994, a deriative of the Gen II Legacy, aptly known in Japan as the Legacy Grand Wagon. It’s all superb Subaru stuff, with symmetrical AWD and low centre of gravity horizontally-opposed Boxer engine – and offers “go anywhere competence” thanks to its raised ride height and tough, protective body cladding. It is, as claimed “the consummate on and off road car – business or

pleasure.” Perfect for us. Since 2009, it’s been in Gen IV spec, available in 2.0-litre Boxer diesel (manual gearbox) and 2.5-litre (lineartronic) spec, from £30,070 SE to £34,478 S

spec, trim depending. I don’t often say this, but the diesel is the one to have – it’s quicker (0-62mph in 9.7s not 10.4), it’s more economical (47.8mpg combined Vs 33.6mpg), it’s got

lower emissions/tax and a superb six-speed manual, not the odd Lineartronic the petrol models have. We chose the basic £30,070 SE model – complete with Nokian Winter

tyres and all-specced up for European travel (hi-vis, breathalyser kits, warning triangle etc.). Parfait! It’s never going to win any beauty competitions, for sure, but the Outback isn’t

about aesthetics – it’s unashamedly practical, comfortable, dependable and as a result, enjoyable. Our route through France started in blizzard conditions – with the Eurotunnel closing behind our crossing and the ‘route Anglais’ A26 (smooth, straight, fast toll road, costing c£1 per 10 miles) to Reims and Troyes reduced to a crawl – in the inside lane. The snowcovered outside lane was free however – leaving us a traffic-free road and average 75mph, as the AWD Winter-tyre-shod Outback

nding gets a br C D ’s ck lo B en K ipe anyone? everywhere. Half p ploughed on, with consumate, sure-footed ease; occupants warm and comfy. We overnight in Troyes, re-fueling on Steaks frites, vin rouge and profiteroles, before heading off south east – this time turning off the boring, but quick peage onto the famous ‘route nationale’ N-roads, the N71 to

Meribel is a h ighly exclusiv e, attractive ski resort Dijon, which was a planetree-lined, empty pleasure. From Dijon, we peage to Lyon – an un-inspirational run in the valleys, passing mile after mile of industrial units – before finally turning off towards the amazing Alps, looming larger in the distance beyond Grenoble. It’s here – 500 miles in

– the route gets interesting, as we pass through the famous alpine tunnels, cutting through the increasingly mahousive mountains along the A43. You can smell the alps in the air. At Moutiers, we exit onto a classic alpine route, the D90

– hairpin central. Sadly, it’s not snowing and the road is clear. But it’s icy in patches and cold. And the Outback shows it’s not just a comfy cruiser: The AWD and low centre of gravity, punchy (150PS, 350Nm), variable vane turbo Boxer lump and superb suspension add up to a car that’s made for

roads like these – eating up the huge climb to Meribel, effortlessly. Fantastique! We arrive at our chalet to meet the lovely Francesca for drinks; refreshed, not exhausted – the acid test of a good road trip car. The skiing in Meribel is still good, even late in the season. But our emphasis is on fun – so we head to the amazing La Folie Douce

Winter rubbe r + Subaru O utback = go-anywhe re, effortlessl y – the coolest resuaturant/ night club half way up the stunning mountains, for a superb, surreal dancing-onthe-tables-live-DJ-cabaret set, washed down with plenty of 1664. It’s pure Alps heaven, as was the

rest of the Meribel break. Thanks Francesca! We wake on leaving day to find three foot of snow has fallen, and the Outback is buried deep in a steep uphill exit car park: No worries. The mountain goat Outback

exits in style, with ease; just as it eats-up the long journey home back. And, 1,555 mile later, I could honestly drive straight back... and there are few, if any, cars I could do that in. Subaru Outback’s are amazing. Buy one.

Garmin Nuvi 3590 I am a Luddite – a mapbook-loving, OSmap-owning Luddite. And I’m not keen on sat navs. They pick weird routes. They send you up blind alleys. They attract crims. And they are annoying. But, with 1,555-miles of French road signs ahead and in the interests of limiting marital map mishaps, I decided to get a PND (personal navigation Device): It’s Garmin’s new, range-topping (£280-£310) nüvi® 3590 LMT – with a huge five-inch colour screen, ultra-thin design, voice activation, Bluetooth, Guidance 3 navigation engine, 3D Traffic and is made ‘Live Ready’ through compatibility with Garmin’s newest Android™ application, Smartphone Link.

It was amazing! I’m a convert! The only time it freaked out was my fault. I programmed in ‘avoid tolls’ to avoid the peage (in a mountainous area with tiny tunnel tolls) and spent two hours driving in the most remote parts of France ever. Human error. The nüvi® 3590 was easy to program – hunting out destinations and ace local hotels, petrol stations, food stops etc. – easy to read & follow and faultless, even avoiding traffic jams. Which is more than can be said for its Luddite operator.

Eurotunnel: Simples


f you hate being all at sea, don’t mind confined spaces and mildly terrifying ‘security announcements’ and want to cross the channel in just 35 minutes exiting straight onto a motorway, from just £47 per car (each way), you’d be mad not to take the Euro Tunnel to France – as we just did on our Subaru Outback alpine adventure. And if you are not sure how much faster this is versus a ferry, consider this: Not

so long ago, while a fellow Spa-Francorchamps track day pal recently returned over water sea from Calais, I simultaneously went by the Eurotunnel – and I was at Ipswich on the A12 by the time he docked… point proved how much faster the Euro Tunnel is? Mais oui! So, a big thanks to Eurotunnel for their superbly efficient crossings, which you can book on-line at www.eurotunnel. com/summer for the latest 2013 deals (or click straight through off the advert over the page), or by calling 0870 241 2938, if you’re old school. To get the best prices, we recommend booking early and travelling outside of peak periods. Eurotunnel – we salute you. Ca c’est bon!

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Under the radar Subaru’s XV SUV is getting gold stars in class, so why so rare to see?


ith the end of the WRX/STi brand in the UK, the arrival of the ace new BRZ coupe and with the Subaru stalwart brands of Forester (about to be re-vamped) and Legacy/Outback in the range, you’ve got to feel a bit sorry for their SUV –the XV. It’s the neglected middle brother of the family. And to neglect the XV would be a shame. Here is a striking looking, classleading, great value SUV – with the base model 1.6S petrol model starting at just £21,295. And even the range-topping 2.0D SE Lux Premium model we have on test here comes in under £30,000 – with £795 of Subaru’s aftercare program thrown in currently here in the UK. Deal!

That’s a whole lot of car for the money – especially when you consider it’s practicality, chiselled good looks & fine interior. And that’s not even mentioning the XV has: Class-leading petrol fuel economy and petrol emissions, a 220mm class-leading ground clearance, is the lightest in class and comes with the highest Euro NCAP safety score for child occupant protection. And yet a lot of folk have never even heard of the Subaru XV. It’s gone distinctly under the radar. And with class leading stats like it has, why is this? If this were an Audi Q3 or a BMW X1, we’d never hear the end of it – on an irritating TV ad, in every paper you read, across You Tube etc. Yawn. The stealth SUV XV is

superbly equipped, on the inside and out. And it’s mechanical specifications are typical Subaru – welldesigned and bullet-proof, making the XV yet another super Subaru to enjoy driving. The independent suspension makes the tall SUV nimble and the blend of handling ability/ride quality is typically good. Then there’s the Boxer engines – quirky, characterful and great sounding. Hell, they are even so economical in the lightweight, aerodynamic (in SUV terms) XV. What more to folk want? Here’s a fabulous value,

stylish, different SUV, with a practical, spacious layout, superb specification, tried and tested AWD technology and Subaru pedigree. It’s beyond me why you don’t see more XV’s on the road,

or indeed off-road. Maybe it’s because the XV’s image a bit ‘urban’ for the brand born into the UK as being “the farmer’s choice” and through gravelspitting WRC Imprezas?


Goodbye WRX STi, with the ace 340R and look at two legendary Imprezas. A 1,555-mile Alps trip in the Outback. NEW Forester news. And the XV...

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