As focused, fierce and well engineered as an RS Porsche, this lighter and more powerful Impreza is an immensely quick and compelling machine. At £33,995, it offers tremendous pace, and being a five-door hatch means it’s practical, too. The Spec C is highly strung, but if ever a car has captured the spirit of the legendary Lancia Delta Integrale – only with a massive increase in performance – this is it.
Here’s a recipe for the ultimate Impreza: take a lightweight Japan-only model built for motorsport homologation purposes, and make it faster and fiercer than any version officially available here.
What do you get? UK-based tuning company Litchfield’s STi Spec C Sport. Power comes from a high-revving, turbocharged 2.0-litre flat four, instead of the UK STi’s 2.5-litre powerplant, while
the chassis is sharpened to improve the handling.
Highlights include a low-friction turbo for faster responses, and a mechanical limited-slip differential for the rear axle. The car also gets a high-flow steering pump, plus thinner glass, a lightweight
battery and an aluminium bonnet to reduce weight by 30kg.
Litchfield sells Spec Cs in various states of tune, and the Sport model we drove is the hottest version, with 350bhp.
It also has a sports exhaust for improved engine breathing and an awesome soundtrack. Finally, Litchfield fits two-way adjustable suspension and new anti-roll bars for increased road-holding and more incisive handling.
The results are sensational. The Spec C’s smaller 2.0-litre engine revs more freely than that of the UK car, and it’s much more potent, too. The steering has more weight and feel, and the firm
suspension means its pace along a bumpy B-road is ballistic.
Litchfield hasn’t upgraded the brakes, but the standard Brembos are adequate for road use. If you want to do trackdays, the firmcan fit a bigger Alcon front brake kit developed for its ultimate
creation: the monstrous 400bhp, £40,000 Spec C-based Type 20.