imprezzive monster pulsates with power

STRIKING SPEED: The new Subaru Impreza STI cries out to be driven hard. Circa 11/2008. © Unknown.
STRIKING SPEED: The new Subaru Impreza STI cries out to be driven hard. Circa 11/2008. © Unknown.

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

The new Subaru Impreza STI may be a hatchback but any similarity to a "mom's taxi" ends right there.

Over the years Subaru have built up a reputation for producing high performance vehicles - reflected by the fact they have won more World Rally Championships than any other motor maker. But it's not just off-road where they shine.

Handing over the keys to the STI, a representative from Subaru gave me a rundown on the vehicle, ably assisted by his young son.

"It's awesome," said the 12-year-old, his eyes bigger than saucers and a knowing grin across his young face.

Engage the clutch, turn the key and straight away your senses are awoken with a primal growl from the two twin exhausts positioned either side at the rear of the vehicle.

Idling, the sound from the exhausts makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up as the dull thud pulsates through the vehicle like an erratic heartbeat.

Yep, this is one angry monster just crying out to be driven hard . and that's exactly what we did!

Typical of many sports performance vehicles the clutch is stiff so pulling away in first gear (the car has a six-speed gearbox) takes a bit of getting used to.

The Recaro racing seats - upholstered in a mix of suede and leather - keep you safely ensconced for when the going gets tough ... and it does!

There are two settings when driving the STI.

Sport Intelligent (SI) is suitable for round-town driving while Sport Sharp (SS) is for when you want to throw caution to the wind and hammer the hell out of the vehicle.

So what else sets the STI apart from its siblings in the Impreza range? Well first up, it has an air cooler in the bonnet that looks like it has been carved out with a chain saw.

This is not just for show but to help regulate the airflow to the 2,5litre turbo engine nestling out of sight.

The 18-inch gold rims are also a giveaway as is the stylish rear spoiler and the STI badge proudly positioned on the right back panel.

This is a serious car reflected by awesome performance figures - 0-100kmh in under five seconds, 221kW and an electronically-governed top speed of 250kmh.

Standard features are too numerous to mention but include a multi-function steering wheel and a 6-CD system with 10 speakers.

It sells for a hefty R489000. Not cheap, but boy, what a car!