Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R 2007 review

Extreme version of the ever-popular Impreza is blindingly quick with precise cornering

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Verdict

After only five minutes behind the wheel, it's clear that the RA-R feels like the STI Subaru should have built in the first place. Blindingly quick with huge stopping power and precise cornering, it's perfect for buyers after a practical saloon that offers stunning track day performance. A pure pleasure to drive.

The winds of change are blowing in at Subaru, and the car it built to conquer Britain’s roads in 1993 is about to be replaced.

It’s hard to imagine life without the legendary Impreza turbo, but this year sees the four-wheel-drive saloon succeeded by a new hatchback. However, that’s not before it signs off with the most extreme version ever made. The grandly titled Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R promises to finally prove what the four-door is capable of.

Apart from the white 18-inch wheels and yellow paint, there are no unique parts that mark the RA-R out – even the standard STi’s rear wing has been deleted. At each corner, you will notice special brakes. They’re as close to racing items as you can get, with six-piston calipers at the front and a four-piston set-up at the rear.

They need to be ‘warmed up’ before they work properly, but once up to temperature, they’re outstanding, with a firm pedal and tremendous power. And that’s good news, because the engine is unlike any before found in an Impreza.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-four produces 320bhp and 432Nm of torque. Subaru’s engineers have tweaked the turbo, improved the exhaust and streamlined the air intake to produce bags of low-end surge and an incredible engine note. The RA-R gathers pace from a lowly 2,000rpm and feels strong right to the 8,000rpm red line. But more impressive still is its cornering ability. Subaru wanted to make this the best-handling Impreza ever, and by modifying the suspension and adding thicker stabilisers, the RA-R offers faster and sharper turn-in than any STi to date. In fact, you’d have to go a long way to find a 4WD that’s as rewarding.

But while the suspension is ideal for rocketing around bends, this STi is no daily commuter, as the stiff suspension transfers every bump straight to your spine.

Of the 300 cars to be built, more than 270 have already been sold. That’s what happens when you make something this special – it disappears.

Model:Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl boxer turbo petrol
Power/torque:320bhp/432Nm
Transmission:Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:4.5 seconds
Top speed:155mph
Weight:1,390kg

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