STi wheel

Subaru tweaks performance models

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Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Dillon Photography
19 Sep 2017

Subaru’s range of performance models has been tweaked as part of a MY2018 update, bringing a mild makeover and improved equipment levels. The WRX, STi and Levorg GT-S are models which Subaru NZ like to say help it maintain its link with those that still like to drive.

And while the new models gain improved equipment levels, they still deliver great bang for buck driving thrills. Subaru is having a bumper year here, its numbers up and en route to another record in terms of cars delivered thanks to additional stock allocation.

The big news for WRX is the addition of Subaru’s Eyesight safety camera system for the auto models, complete with the new lane keep assist function. The 2.0-litre flat four engine has been honed to meet tougher Euro6b emissions standards but the only other mechanical update is a change to Jurid brake pads, which Subaru says improves braking efficiency by 20 per cent. The rest is cosmetic with a new design for the 18-inch wheels and some red paint added to the calipers. The front end is revised with a new grille, bumper and headlight design, the later featuring adaptive lighting which moves with the steering. The SLT models gain an electric handbrake with an auto hold function (push the foot pedal down and it will hold the vehicle). There’s new heated door mirrors and black accents replace the old silver trim inside. Added to the Premium models are heated front seats and a 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory, and there’s also a new front view camera. With the addition of Eyesight, prices for the SLT models rise by $1000, the WRX at $50,990, the Premium $55,990 while the manual asks $2000 less.

The Levorg GT-S has only been around for a year or so but its look gets refined too with new wheels, grille and bumper designs and the headlights gain adaptive lighting too. Subaru has revised the suspension, firming the set up slightly to reduce roll, and the new brake pads are fitted. Levorg also gains the auto hold function, front camera and a smart rear view camera. This relays the image of a tailgate-mounted camera to the rear view mirror for times when your rearward view is obstructed. Also new is the 40/20/40 split rear seat, and 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory. The Levorg also goes up $1000 to $57,990.

And to what Subaru NZ calls the last bastion of the driver’s car, the WRX STi, it too gets a few updates, the most important being revisions to the Driver Controlled Centre Diff. This is now fully electronic in operation giving the torque splitting device better control of how this process occurs. The braking department is improved with bigger (340mm front and 326mm rear) cross drilled rotors with new six piston front and twin piston rear Brembo calipers, resplendent in yellow. There are new 19-inch wheels and it also receives a similar front end rearrange as the WRX. The premium model also picks up the front view camera. There is no Eyesight technology as the STi is a manual only proposition and still a bargain at $59,990 or $64,990 for the Premium model. And both are still available either with or without the trademark spoiler.

These models are all good drives as highlighted by a few laps at a wet Hampton Downs motorsport park recently. The added advantage of AWD is especially clear on days like this where the drive out of bends is phenomenal. These cars communicate well on track, the front end informing when the grip is about to expire, and even the CVT auto does well when the Sport Sharp drive mode is accessed. But it’s not as exciting as the STi, the manual driveline much more entertaining. The DCCD might be smarter at splitting its torque now, but this still performs better with a more rearward bias, selectable with a few clicks of the button. As they said, it’s hard to beat the bang for buck these cars deliver when you consider the levels of equipment and safety provided as well. Look for a full review of the new Levorg GT-S in the October issue out Thursday, while the STi gets our full treatment next month.

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