Just 30 of these special muscled-up Diamond Edition STis are being built. Picture: SUPPLIED
Just 30 of these special muscled-up Diamond Edition STis are being built. Picture: SUPPLIED

For a brand that once pinned much of its reputation on rally-bred fire-breathers like the Impreza WRX and STi, Subaru has gone a little soft of late.

While the WRX and STi are still around, the Japanese brand has spent much of its time focusing on practical but not exactly fiery family SUVs like the XV, Forester and Outback.

Now Subaru SA has unleashed a car that should put it back into the high-performance spotlight: the STi Diamond Edition. Built to commemorate 30 years of Subaru Tecnica International, this special car is beefed up with extra power and a lurid body kit.

By means of a remapped ECU and a free-flow exhaust system, Subaru’s engineers have tweaked power in the boxer 2.5l turbo engine from 221kW and 407Nm to 260kW and 464Nm. The upgrade has slashed the car’s 0-100km/h time from 5.76 seconds to 5.03 seconds, and the 0-160km/h sprint from 14.76 to 13.70 seconds. Top speed remains at 255km/h.

Lurid body kit is matched by a none-too-subtle roar from the free-flow exhaust. Picture: SUPPLIED
Lurid body kit is matched by a none-too-subtle roar from the free-flow exhaust. Picture: SUPPLIED

This makes it the most potent production STi yet released in SA. It’s a purely local development that took Subaru 18 months to complete, including endurance testing to ensure that the engine lasts as well as it goes.

Only 30 individually numbered units are being made available in this limited-edition build, which also includes an engine brace for increased stabilisation, a 20mm wider track to give the car a more “planted” look, and a High-Viz Yellow body kit. The Brembo brake callipers are finished in the same yellow, and there’s a Gloss Black Diamond Edition badge on the side of the big rear wing.

The signature STi features remain unchanged: the “hawk-eye” LED Daytime Running Lights, and the large bonnet intercooler scoop. The all-wheel drive car rides on 19-inch 245/35 rubber on darkened Y-design alloys.

Diamond Edition detailing in the cabin includes new facet designs on the driver and passenger dashboard inlays, with an exclusive numbered panel on the driver’s side.

The STi has never been a subtle car and this Diamond Edition is even less so, particularly with its audible character. It starts up with a neighbourhood-waking bark as the engine settles into a somewhat lumpy idle, and the loud howl of the free-flow exhaust is a constant factor in your travels.

The firm clutch makes it tricky to effect smooth gear changes through the six-speed manual, especially when burbling slowly through traffic. This is a car that prefers an open stretch of tar, and when such presents itself, the Subaru lets loose with hearty forward progress.

Everything smoothes out when you’re banging through the gears in full-attack mode, and the revs shoot up at a dizzying pace: every couple of seconds a beep sounds to indicate it’s time to change gear.

The exhaust howl adds a fitting war cry to such high-performance exploits, although the loud drone can become tiresome when cruising on longer trips.

All-wheel drive is part and parcel of the Subaru experience, and rain-soaked Joburg roads gave us the chance to experience the excellent traction of this system. On dry roads the car corners in a nice and neutral way when you’re right on the edge, without the excessive understeer of previous-generation Subarus.

At the press of a button the driver can fiddle with the handling characteristics using the Driver’s Control Centre Differential (DCCD) system, which apportions more power to either the front or rear wheels. There are also three driver-selectable SI-Drive modes that affect the throttle response.

This is an enthusiast driver’s car through and through, with sharp steering and firm suspension that put you right into the heart of the action, while gripped tightly in place by sports seats.

The price is R799,000, a R30,000 premium over the standard Subaru STi, and it comes with the regular three-year/75,000km maintenance plan and five-year/150,000km warranty

It’s not cheap, but with only 30 units of this super STI being built, it should ensure the car’s rarity and a decent resale value.

Bucket seats and sports steering wheel welcome the enthusiast driver. Picture: SUPPLIED
Bucket seats and sports steering wheel welcome the enthusiast driver. Picture: SUPPLIED

SIDE BAR: 30 YEARS OF STi

Registered in April 1988, Subaru’s STi motorsport performance subsidiary made headlines from the beginning when a 164kW Legacy RS RA broke the World Speed Endurance record.

From 1995 to 1997, Subaru dominated the World Rally Championship, winning the constructors’ championships for three years in succession, making world champions of Colin McCrae and Tommi Makinen, and again in 2003 with Petter Solberg at the wheel of an Impreza STi. It cemented the signature Subaru STi World Rally Blue hue and rumbling sound into the minds of fans the world over.

Having achieved so much in rallying, STi officially withdrew from the World Rally stage in 2008 and instead focused on endurance racing.

In 30 years, STi has achieved three Constructors World Rally Championship titles, three World Rally Championship Driver’s titles, 47 World Rally Championship overall wins and five class wins in Germany’s 24-Hour Nürburgring.

 

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Four cylinder petrol

Capacity: 2,457 cc

Power: 260kW @ 4,500r/min

Torque: 464Nm @ 4000r/min

TRANSMISSION

Type: Six-speed manual

DRIVETRAIN

Type: All-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE (as tested by Subaru at Gauteng altitude)

Top speed: 255km/h

0-100km/h: 5.03 seconds

Fuel Consumption: 11.6/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 242 g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Climate control; remote central locking; park distance control; electric windows; electric mirrors; 440 Watt Harman Hardon audio system; 7” touch screen infotainment system with CD and handsfree functionality, voice recognition, and navigation; electrically adjustable driver’s seat; front sports bucket seats; leather upholstery; LED daytime running lights; seven airbags; blind spot monitoring; rear cross traffic alert; active torque vectoring; rain sensors; automatic headlights; ABS brakes; SI-Drive.

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: five years/150,000km

Maintenance plan: three years/75,000km

Price: R799,000

Lease*: R17,071 a month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Subaru STI Diamond Edition

WE LIKE:

Performance, handling, rarity value

WE DISLIKE:

Excessive exhaust drone when cruising

VERDICT:

A special Subaru for the chosen few

 

MOTOR NEWS

star rating

 

***Design

****Performance

***Economy

****Ride/handling

****Safety

***Value For Money

****Overall

Competition

BMW 340i, 240kW and 450Nm – R810,248

Audi S4 Quattro, 260kW and 500Nm – R816,000