Previously Owned
rob.e's  Subaru  WRX STI type uk   (2011)
@ 2,000 miles. Tuesday 10th May 2011
Final thoughts.

So, the car has gone. Actually it went about a week ago but I've been putting off writing the last entry here. Why? Well, it’s a tough one - I mean, on one level it’s just a fantastic prize (thank you PH!) but sad that I've had to sell. Why did I sell it? As I've said before, I already have a company car (and I can't opt out) so the Subaru is was just a toy for me for the weekends but at a time when I'm already stretched financially then the choice is pretty much already made. Keep = extra costs for fuel, insurance etc that I don't actually need to be spending right now, Sell = fix all the short term financial issues in one go..

One other reason I've put off the final entry here is that it’s pretty difficult to write anything negative without seeming ungrateful for the fantastic prize I've had. I always want to be writing exactly what I think about the cars I've had, good and bad, and I don't want to treat the Subaru any differently. It’s an issue the magazine writers always seem to face (Chris Harris has written about this more than once) in that you have to be "nice" to the PR guys or you're just not going to get the exclusives, scoops or even potentially an invite to the latest launch which can be pretty damaging to a magazine or career limiting to a writer.

Ok, here's one way to approach it: if I had 33k cash sitting on the table in front of me, would I buy one of these? I have to say probably "no". Yes, it’s a very quick car with a super chassis, practical 4 door shape with a boot BUT I still don't think it really manages to make a real case for itself.

Let me explain: Say you're a young chap (or chapesses) without family ties wanting something sporty. Given the cost of insurance and fuel would you really go for a 300bhp rally -rep? Or just do the mini cooper or hot hatch thing and save some money for beer. I mean in your twenties a Golf GTI is still going to impress the girls so why would you need more?

If you're in this position age-wise and have some more cash, surely you'd be looking at used boxster/z4/elise for your thrills? Two doors, rwd and the option to drop the roof when the sun comes out? Yep, I can see the attraction. No need for 4 doors or a boot here.

Maybe their target is a bit older (let’s say "mature" to avoid offence!)? Ok, so maybe the 30-something with a young family maybe where this car is aimed? Hmmm.. most if not all the folks I know in this bracket want high mpg and the ability to throw a buggy or a couple of tricycles in the boot - neither of which this car can offer unfortunately.

I think there IS a market for this sort of vehicle, but as the price escalates closer to M3 territory and the mpg and practicality sits so far below what you'd expect from say, a Golf R or 335i touring, it gets to be a much smaller potential market.

I think when the first Imprezas and Evos were on the market, they made a great alternative to the existing performance cars of the time. Back in '98 when I drove a first gen Impreza with circa 200 bhp it felt really damn quick compared to my car at the time, a 115 bhp 2.0i Mk3 Golf GTI. Compared to what you'd be offered at that time as an entry level Ferrari, the 355, it was not far off in terms of cross-country pace and all for 20-ish thousand pounds. It really was a performance bargain.

Today's car (and the corresponding Evo XI of whatever number they’re up to now) is a hell of a lot more expensive, the entry level Ferrari is way, way beyond their reach both in price and performance and the standard for even relatively mundane GTI hatches is 200-250 bhp which puts them easily in range. Consider also the fantastic improvements in build and interior quality of say a 2011 Golf vs. the '98 Mk3 and you have to say it also serves to highlight one of the Subaru's main shortcomings.

Ok, so no more waffling here's the low down:

The performance of this WRX STI is really stunning. It’s a really fantastic drivers car with a tremendous amount of fun to be had even when you're just stroking it along at 8 tenths.

The seats are great, the noise is great, the keyless go is spot on, brakes also just fantastic.

The concept of having driver-switchable maps is also a great feature and is something I'm surprised more mainstream manufacturers don't do. I mean, the ability to switch into Sport# mode for a few miles of twisty B-road, then back to Sport or the eco "Intelligent" for the mundane A road or motorway seems like an ideal scenario to me.

There are some things, however, I think that would have been a source of frustration if I'd bought the car with my own money: despite reported improvements to the quality of the interior materials, it really isn't up there with the best of the European manufacturers. Ok the Recaros are awesome, but the dash plastics feel cheap and i think you'd be upset if, for example, you dropped a set of keys on the STI branded centre console and left permanent scratches.

The (light) weight and gauge of the body metalwork, although driven by a laudable goal for lightness means that the body does seem more susceptible to car park dings and dents, as I found out to my cost. I take no special care at all with my Skoda and that car is showing absolutely no signs of any similar abuse from the clumsy drivers of adjacent parked cars. The thin metal unfortunately can also contribute to a feeling of flimsiness - open the fuel filler cap and you'll see exactly what i mean.

One thing that really did surprise me though was the radio/cd/bluetooth system fitted as standard. I would expect some super-functional state-of-the-art device given the car's Japanese origins, but in fact the radio seems like something from a car of ten years ago. Yes is has a BT function but its clumsy to pair and the sound quality wasn't that good - a complete contrast to the standard fit "bolero" item in my Skoda.

Thoughts on seeing it go: Well, sadness of course as it’s a shame to have to say goodbye to a great drivers car, but i think because this wasn't a car that I'd lusted over for months (years) before being able to buy, added to the fact that I pretty much knew it was going to be sold at some point meant I don't think I really "bonded" with this car like I had with some of the other machines I'd had. Selling the Esprit felt like cutting off a limb, but I guess that says more about me than the cars ;-)

Sum up? Yeah, it's pretty ing awesome. Yes, I am a lucky bastard.

Thank you, Subaru UK and PH.
Monday 2nd May 2011

I'd had an email a few weeks ago on the back of the PH ad from a guy called James Challis.

James runs his own business "Cherry Motors" effectively sourcing speciliast performance cars for his portfolio of clients. He's got a significant background in high-end vehicles having worked in the past as a Dealer Principal at a Ferrari main dealer plus some other similar roles.

James seemed like a good guy and we did a deal on the phone - he had a guy interested in the car and we worked out a price that would suit both of us. It's less than I had been hoping for but more than Ian Mutch was offering a few weeks ago.

I met James at the station the next day and he inspected the car (only minor issue being that nasty ding in the door, grrr!) prior to ringing his bank to transfer the money to my account.

By the time we'd driven back to my house (15 minutes or so) the money was showing up in my account - how cool is that?!

After a cup of tea and a chat James drove away with "my" car. Overall a very painless experience and I'd recommend the guy to anyone who has a performance car to sell.

Yes I got less than I'd hoped, but I'm happy with the deal and doing it this way meant I didn't have to entertain any "tyre kickers" or have to let some idiot take my car out for a test drive. This way = zero hassle.

James's web site:

I'll write an "end of term" type report in the next few days - I want to put some proper thought in to that one..

Friday 29th April 2011

Now that the car is for sale I'm using it less. I'm not so worried about the mileage but more the risk that it gets bumped or damaged (again!) before it goes.

Given that I'm using it less I really want to move it on sooner rather than later, so rather than have it hanging around for weeks I've priced the car to sell. Its currently the cheapest car of its type on PH and autotrader.

Despite this I've had no calls which is a bit worrying.

There seem to be quite a few of these cars around at the moment at dealers - I think what's happened is that all the subaru main dealers put one of these on as a demo when they first came out late 2010. Now these are all around 6 months old the dealers are all trying to move them on at the same time. This is into a market where very few people have 30k to spend and current petrol prices mean many are reluctant to take on a car that will only return low 20's mpg? Whatever the reason the phone just isn't ringing... :-/

I've researched a specialist Subaru buyer Ian Mutch, and had a bid from him but I think it's a little low. I expect he'll place the car with a dealer so he needs to allow for his own margin plus the dealer markup which is fair enough but it means less cash for me. Yes I know I got the car for free so it shouldn't matter, but I can't stand to give it away for less than I think it's worth.

I've also mailed a bunch of Subaru dealers but no offers.
Thursday 21st April 2011

I'm very happy that my WRX STI does not have a wing. I'm not a fan of bolt-on appendages to cars generally and I think the high-rise Subaru wings are just too "boy racer" for me.

I've seen a "winged" STI saloon at a dealer and it really changes the look of the car - mine's pretty understated in the dark colour with a clean boot-lid - add the wing and it really looks cartoon-ish IMO.

I've seen that EVO's Henry Catchpole now has a wing on his long termer (each to his own) which is useful to see a side-by-side comparison:

Henry's new wing is taller than the surrounding buildings

Here's another similar pic for comparison:

Henry's EVO long termer link.
Saturday 16th April 2011

As I mentioned on the "summary" page I'm using one of those on-line fuel economy calculators to see how much v power I'm putting through the Subaru.

Here's the detail so far:

As you can see I'm at an average of 23mpg with my last tankfull being the worst at only 20mpg - yikes!

I can only put this down to a bunch of local trips combined with some "enthusiastic" demonstrations of the car to friends and family. hehe

With fuel at 1.42 a litre there's only one word for it: Yikes!
@ 1,800 miles. Friday 15th April 2011
Scenic trip to work this morning, quiet roads as I think a lot of people are away now for their half term/easter hols:

cool air, dry roads, overcast.. perfect driving weather
Friday 15th April 2011

I thought I'd put together a few words on how I feel the car performs in comparison so some of the fast machinery I've had in the past.

I suppose it goes without saying that the Subaru is significantly quicker than my current "other" car the Octavia Vrs. My Octavia has somewhere around 240-250bhp so it's no slouch, but the Subaru is much quicker as you'd expect. 300bhp obviously helps but the main difference is the way it puts its power down. The AWD system means you can be on the power harder and sooner through a bend (once you've seen your way through is clear) where the skoda you'd be struggling for grip coming out of the slower stuff or if the road is wet. Even in the dry you just can't put the power down through the front set of wheels like you can in the other car. The subaru just grips and goes and really shoots itself out of the bend which is a great feeling. You've also got the effect of the auto diff shuffing torque between the front and rear to get the most out of the available shove. Straight line the Subaru is much faster, factor in a twisty road and it'll blitz the Skoda. I guess you'd be disappointed with any other result given the £10+k price differential.

Comparing with the fastest car I've owned, my Esprit V8-GT? Well that's a completely different matter. The Esprit had 350bhp (mine probably a little more) and weights somewhere in the region of 1300kg vs. the Subaru's slighly porky 1500kg so yes the Esprit is the faster car - the autocar numbers for the Esprit back in '98 showed a 0-60 time of 4.1 and 0-100 of 9.5 which is still up there as a junior supercar level of performance. In the real world, well yes it would be quicker but a much bigger challenge for the driver. Put both cars on the twisty B roads I enjoy and the Subaru would chase hard and probably keep up - the electronics plus AWD would mean you could take greater liberties and throw the car around a lot more where the Esprit driver has none of that to rely on. Get it wrong in the Esprit and although it's pretty benign for a mid-engined car it'd be virtually impossible to save a big slide on the road unless you're Dickie Meaden. Driven within these limits the Subaru driver would be up there but no faster - if the roads widen and the straights get longer however the Lotus would just walk away.

There's a very interesting article in EVO this month where they pitch a (near 10 year old) Enzo against the latest of the super-hot hatch /AWD cars including a Litchfield Spec C Impreza (hatch rather than saloon like mine and 390ish bhp vs. my Subaru's 300). Although I guess the subtext is they were expecting a "giant-killers" type story given the twisty nature of the alpine roads they were using, but the reality is that the Enzo just blitzes the hatchbacks! Two reasons I think why its a different store to my Esprit analogy: first, well, it's an ENZO ffs! 650bhp is always going to be a winner, and secondly - Dickie M's driving is just sublime. His ability to drift a wide, midengined wide-tyred £900k on those super-twisty "no-room-for-error" roads is just out of this world. Respect is definitely due!

So, is the Subaru a drivers car?

Yes without a doubt, great feedback (although some bump steer and kickback that I wasn't expecting) from the steering and an enthusiastic zingy engine and with Sport# a very responsive throttle make this a great car for the enthusiastic driver.

Do the electronics help? Well, they undoubtedly make the car very effective, but as a driving tool do they make the car just that bit too effective, meaning you end up a very silly speeds with ease?

For me the ultimate "drivers cars" are elises and caterhams where steering feel and driver involvement and overall feedback and sensory experience are paramount. You'd have fun in either of these at much lower speeds, in fact you really don't need high speed for these to be blast. Trouble is you don't get any of the airconditioned everyday usability of something like the Subaru so I guess its just horses for courses.

Still, it's a fantastic car to get for nothing

Wednesday 13th April 2011
Its a very sad day today - I've just put together a PH ad for the car.

I don't really want to sell, but I can't justify keeping the car much longer.

Hopefully it won't sell?

Edited to add: Maybe a swap for a 10k Caterham would be a good move? It'll fix my short term financial problem and still leave me with something "PH" to tuck away in the garage for the weekends? Any Caterham owners out there with a spare £17k wanting a swap?
@ 1,751 miles. Saturday 2nd April 2011
Mobile Mayhem

The STI has Isofix fittings as you'd expect from any car with pretentions of being a family car. In the Subaru they're protected by some nice alcantara flaps that velco into place to cover the hooks up when they're not being used.

Its a 30 second job to slot the two kiddie seats we have into the car. You get a satisfying "click" when they're located and you also have a visual indicator (green = safe) to show you that you've done it right.

We have a MAXI-COSI PrioriFix for our little one (18 months) and a Britax KIDFix for our 3 yr old. Both are researched and purchased by my wife who reads all the reviews and test so we're confident we've got the best we can get.

One thing you just can't control though - grubby feet on the back of the seat in front.. ggrrr! Luckily the rear of the recaros are leather so it will wipe clean!


Lyla doesn't seem to take much notice of what car she's in, but Lewis on the other hand really enjoys a trip in the Subaru, and frequently requests that we go "zooming".
Monday 28th March 2011

When I got the car a few people asked if i was going to keep it or sell it. I suspect I'd have got some negative comments on the forums if I'd just chucked it straight into the classifieds but that wasn't an issue as this was a keeper as far as I was concerned. As you've probably guessed I'm a bit of a petrolhead so having fun in a fast car has a much bigger appeal to me than just a pile of cash.

The original plan was to sell the wife's bmw and have the subaru as the family second car, used for nusery runs in the week and being my weekend toy whilst I keep my Vrs (company car) for the commute. Problem was, insurance for Mrs rob.e was prohibitive and to be honest once we'd got the car there was a reluctance to put messy kiddies in such a nice motor. Add to that the wife's propensity to bump things..

So, the Subaru became our "third" car and we kept the BMW.

I've taken every opportunity to use it and written my thoughts up in my blog - its a fantastic car and an awesome prize. I've enjoyed every mile.

Truth is though, every time i've used it I could have driven my Vrs - and that has a fuel card, so to put it another way every trip in the Subaru fun though they are, is costing me money that I don't actually need to spend, and to be honest its money I dont' really have. The insurance spend plus the fuel I've put in the car are all things that I would not have otherwise had to fund - so I've had to find £740 quid (so far) to play with my toy. Yes the Vrs isn't as quick or fun to drive, but the company car tax I pay on that (car + fuel) are fixed and I'm not in a position to opt out.

Having two children in nursery care is a pretty big financial headache and strains our resources as it is. I'm going to have to make a choice this year as to whether we keep the Subaru, or sell it and have a decent family holiday. What would you choose? A great car sitting on the drive for the occasional costly blat (and I'm skint so each fuel-up hurts) or a memorable two weeks away somewhere nice with my family?

I'd also planned to do some track days and vmax but both events ended up getting bumped due to other commitments.. bugger. I have to be realistic .. this is what its going to be like for me for the next few years at least with the kids at the age they are.

Circumstances, family time, financial pressure, 22 mpg and super unleaded petrol at 140ppl..
Minor Breakdown @ 1,600 miles. Thursday 24th March 2011
MetaSAT Telematics

The Subaru comes with a great security system as standard. I've had trackers on previous cars but this takes the concept to a new level in terms of functionality.

To set this up you first register your mobile phone with the service. Once that's set up you can undertake various functions via "text message". Send a request for a status update and it'll ping the car, and send you back a message showing the car's gps location and battery status.

You can also use this feature to disable the car if its been stolen - send the appropriate text and the next time the vehicle ignition is turned off the car will not re-start.

You also get a text if the alarm has been activated, which also shows the gps location and a separate text with the actual address.

I have a little issue with mine at the moment in that its sending me some erronous texts when I arm and disarm - not a problem (other than it's filling up my in-box!) and will be sorted with a trip to the dealer.

My mobile, full in-box, car isn't really being stolen..
Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Bastard Bollocks Door Ding :grrr:!

I can't ing believe it. I've only had the car a matter of weeks and already some er has dinged my door.


Why can't people take care when they get in and out of their cars FFS!

Not happy.



Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Tyre Pressure

Before I got my car I'd avidly read Henry Catchpole's updates in EVO regarding his WRX STI long termer. He'd mentioned an initial lack of front end grip/bite compared to the cars he'd driven at the launch event, which he'd attributed to the newness of his front tyres. Some roundabout scrubbing-in sessions and he'd sorted it, apparently.

I'd not got any frame of reference for mine but I was surprised that it didn't grip at the front like I'd expect. Having read Henry's comments I was surprised that mine didn't seem to improve even after I'd completed my 1000 mile running in period and fully scrubbed in my tyres.

I'd also thought since I got the car that the suspension was really very, very firm (this is coming from a Skoda on coilovers) especially over the sort of broken surfaces we seem to have everwhere since the snow and ice in December.

It was a bit like you'd expect the car to drive if you'd put too much air in the tyres..


Ok, in my defence I had assumed that as the car had come from Subaru UK via a main dealer that the tyre pressures were going to be spot on. Er, nope.

A check revealed that all four were over inflated, the fronts considerably so.. Oops. I should have really checked this earlier.

With the right pressures now in place the car is much nicer to drive - turn in, front end grip is significantly improved with no "pattery" feeling over mid-corner tarmac ripples. Low speed ride is also improved - its still a very firmly suspended car but now a lot less crashy over the worst of the UK potholes.

Dunlop Sport 600's work better with the right tyre pressure.

Tyre pressure sticker only shows kPA and kg/cm2 - unfortunately my brain only works in PSI..

Monday 21st March 2011

The STI is equipped with a set of the most super fantastic Recaros. Easily the best seats I've had in any car. Very supportive and grippy and super-comfortable.

They have some very nice detailing too:

Lovely recaros..

.. with red STI embroidered detailing..

..that ties in with the red stitching on the wheel and STI horn badge, and the red backlighting for the instruments.

Just in case you hadn't realised, they're RECARO's dontcha know

Thursday 17th March 2011
Sunday Service @ Gaydon

Lousy weather didn't stop a good turnout at the Heritage Centre in Gaydon for the PH Sunday Service.

Gatekeepers Garlick, Riggers and RacingPete all recognised the car before I'd driven up to the entrance - quick chat and some banter before they let me in "we want our car back now please" etc!

RacingPete also poked his head through the window to check which engine map I was on (sportsharp of course) just to make sure I was using it properly.

I hooked up with my friends Tony (stonehenge) and Paula who'd come up from Hampshire in their lovely 996 C4S and spent an very enjoyable morning talking cars and eating bacon sandwiches.

Paula took a pic:

Me, Subaru, Tony, Porsche

Wednesday 9th March 2011

I was hoping to get the Subaru on track this month now that it's run in - I have a mate who's doing an Airfield day with Motorsport Events in Abingdon 18th March in his Caterham so I was hoping to tag along.

Unfortunately diary constraints means I can't take the time off (boo!) but all is not lost..

I've mailed Craig already about a place on Vmax "Overboost" in the spring - should be good fun. I've really enjoyed these events in the past (look in the Esprit V8 blog to see lots of pics of the lotus on various Vmaxes from a few years ago) so it will be interesting to see how the Sti gets on. Obviously I won't be anywhere near the front runners but I should expect to see 150-ish I would have thought?

The empty runways at Bruntingthorpe are also a great place to throw your car about and have some safe hooning. I'm hoping to get some time to play around with the Subaru's C-Diff to see how this affects the car's handling.

Sunday Service:
I just missed out on taking the Subaru to the PH Sunday Service @ Mini in Oxford last month - I only got my hands on the car a few days after that event so I had to attend in a grubby Skoda estate (oh, the hardship! hehe).

I have my name down on the reserve list for Sunday Service at Gaydon which is coming up this weekend - I only need 10 drop outs and i'll scrape in.. fingers crossed.

@ 1,200 miles. Tuesday 8th March 2011

Lovely clear blue spring skies this morning so the Vrs has been left on the drive and I'm taking the Subaru to work (scenic route, obviously!).

I'd planned to stop on the way and take some nice pics as the sun came up over the ridgeway but i have to say once i'd got "in the groove" i just didn't feel like pulling over.. hehe

So, all I have is some pics on the drive before I set off. The car normally lives in the garage but had to spend the night outside as we're in the middle of some building work (again). Some nice frost patterns on the "muscular" sti bodywork:

3/4 shot shows the shape well, rear tints are standard on the STI

Idling to warm up, exhaust booming away, doing my bit for global warming..

Skoda isn't going anywhere today

Yep, its cold! -4 on the display. The mpg is since my last fill-up - its showing a slight improvement since it was new (was 24) I don't think its going to get much beyond this.
Tuesday 8th March 2011
SI Drive

Subaru Intelligent Drive apparently - its "Subaru speak" for a neat tool that allows you to swap between engine maps on the move.

Standard/default setting is "Sport" which gives you the full power and torque available as you'd expect.

Turn the dial to the right and you get the "Sport Sharp" setting. The car feels noticable more "eager" and responsive to throttle inputs in that mode. If your attacking your favorite "B" road this is what you need. I don't think you're getting an increase in the headline power or torque figures here, just an alternate map that maybe gives you more earlier in the rev range, and maybe also gives you a wider throttle opening for the same throttle pedal depression?

The third option you have (press on the rotary knob to activate) is "Intelligent". This is some sort of fuel saving mode, limited power and torque available with a corresponding increase in fuel economy. I've tried that mode a couple of times and it really is only something you'd use on a long m-way trip if you're just going to cruise along. I didn't use it long enough to see if there was a mpg increase, but you really do notice the power drop - you find yourself pushing the throttle a lot further than you'd expect to maintain momentum up a long motorway incline. I don't think i'll be using this mode much (no surprise there then!) but I suppose its good to know Subaru are considering an eco aspect to its cars.

The mode you have selected is displayed in the instrument cluster so you always know what you've running.

SI drive is a chunky rotary knob, the other control is the centre diff (more on that later..)
Monday 21st February 2011
Autoblog roadtest a WRX STI just like mine, dark grey, no spoiler:

Wednesday 16th February 2011
No lower grille?

I took this pic at the weekend when I was cleaning the car - seems there is no lower grille to protect the radiator from stones or other flying road debris.

I googled for some other 2011 STI images and they all look the same so I don't think there's anything missing from my car.

Hopefully the rad's far enough back there that it won't get too badly stone-whacked?!

Time will tell..

@ 830 miles. Saturday 12th February 2011
Car Wash!

I think for any new car the first wash is a milestone - its the first time you put your hands across the whole of the bodywork so you get to really appreciate all the nuances of the design. I suppose its as sensory thing - touch rather than just looking..

I washed the subaru for the first time today (it had got pretty grubby in the first two weeks of ownership) with the help of some child labour:

Good news is i've managed to stop him cleaning cars with rocks..

Looks pretty aggressive from this angle, the scoop feeds directly onto the intercooler

The dark grey colour is almost black. Other cars not done much mileage in the last week..

First mod ;-)

Wednesday 9th February 2011
The sun is shining so I nipped out at lunch time to take a few pics.

As you can see, it's a little grubby already

More to follow..

Saloon shape really works much better than the hatch i think..

Quad pipes look great and sound fantastic

Wide arches, and some lovely sti details

Best angle I think, and no it doesn't need a bloody spoiler!
Wednesday 9th February 2011
Details of the handover is on the Subaru web site:

and on PH:

For some reason the only pics they used were the one's where the snapper asked us to crouch in front of the car.. ?!

That's me, bald git on the right, with Ben Shimmin General Manager @ Cross Roads Subaru

The press release also got the nature of the competition wrong - it refers to a "dream garage" competition ie writing about what I'd like to own, when in fact it was more about the ability to write (blog) about current and previous vehicles. Oh well, just goes to show you can't believe everything you read!

The whole family came along to see daddy's new car
@ 545 miles. Tuesday 8th February 2011
First thoughts:

Ok, so it’s a little early to write about how it drives given my running-in RPM restriction, but here's a few first thoughts about some of the other aspects of the car:


It’s a funny thing how some cars just don't photograph well - they look much better in the metal than they do on paper or on the web. The Subaru is one of these cars - seeing pics on the web or Henry Catchpole's long termer in EVO you really don't get the full effect of those flared arches. When you see the car for real it looks much wider, planted, purposeful (fat?!) and it really has a presence. I've already had other petrolheads coming up to me in Sainsbury's car park to have a closer look and saying how great it looks. Little details like the vents at the back of the front wings work really well.


Spot on driving position, wheel is very low which is just how I like it. Seats are the BEST SEATS EVER. Really - better than anything I've had in any other previous car. I jumped back in to the Vrs this morning just to move it on the driveway after being in the Subaru - the Vrs seats which I've praised in the past just feel flat and unsupportive in comparison. The Recaros in the Subuaru are supremely comfortable and the alcantara is super-grippy.


Ok, so I've blogged extensively on the Vrs about how I've run several different suspension set-ups in search of that holy grail of ride handling excellence. I blame my previous driving history with multiple lotus products - I've been spoiled in the past.. I've written previously that my Vrs "Weitec" suspension is pretty firm, maybe a little too much so.. but compared to the Subaru it’s a magic carpet. This thing is FIRM! Not harsh or crashy but really, really tightly controlled - I expect when I've done some more miles it'll free up a little but it’s going to be spot on for any track driving.


The car has no key, just keep the fob in your pocket and the car lets you in when you touch the handle. Press the start button and off you go. It makes cars with traditional keys feel very antiquated.

Exhaust Sound, Character:

It’s completely understandable how these cars end up getting a "cult" following - the exhaust note and overall feel of the car has a lot of character - it’s the antithesis of the blandness you get in some other Japanese products. It's got a lovely "burble" and a very distinctive sound, not too loud but very distinctive – almost a 911 type of sound to it.

More updates coming soon and I need to get some more pictures up too...

@ 545 miles. Monday 7th February 2011
Running in:

No silliness just yet, I have to have my sensible head on for a few weeks while I get through the running in period. This is going to be very difficult I've not read the manual yet but the Dealer guy was recommending 3,500 for the start.. this is very, very hard to stick to!

Update: I've just looked it up in the manual to double check, yep, 1,000 miles of restraint but the the better news is that the handbood says 4,000 rpm is the limit so that's not so bad. Although the turbo is only just woken up at those revs it's still possible to make the car go pretty quickly

500 miles completed this morning so I'm halfway there. The plan is to use the Subuaru exclusively until its run in to get this out of the way as soon as possible, then revert to using my company car (vrs) for the daily slog and save the Sub for fun stuff/weekends and the odd trip in to work when the weather's nicer when I can take the long way and enjoy the drive a bit more.

I'm still grinning like an idiot every time I drive the car - I still can't really believe how lucky I am to have won the competition.

I'm hugely grateful to Subaru for providing such a great prize, and to Pistonheads for running the competition.

Thanks chaps!
Thursday 3rd February 2011

A mate of mine when he heard my news told me his dad had once scored 5 (out of 6) numbers on the lottery - this was some time back and the lottery was quite a new thing. He was ecstatic as you can imagine, dreaming of a life of luxury and such like. It turns out that in reality that doesn't actually win you very much money at all. Somewhere in the region of £600 quid was the figure mentioned. In hindsight it was lucky the guy hadn't already splashed out on a car or holiday on his credit car in anticipation...

Anyway, reason for that story: up to December that guy was the most winning-est person I knew, even though "dad-of-a-mate-of-mine" is a pretty tenuous link. Now however, out of everyone I know, the person who's won the best / highest value prize is actually ME, and it still feels very surreal to be writing that!

After getting the great news from Paul mid-December it seemed like an age to wait until the handover day - in reality it wasn't actually that long and certainly no longer to wait than if I'd just ordered a car myself direct from the dealer - and to be fair I'm hardly in the position to complain given that I'm getting the car for free.

Subaru have been great and arranged the handover at the dealer that's closest to me, which was nice.

When the handover day finally arrived I was pretty much beside myself with excitement - not really what you'd expect for a "grown-up" but hey, it's not every day you get given a prize like this.

The guys from Subaru UK were great - very accommodating and friendly and said some nice things about my competition entry - ie it was not just a game of chance, all the entries had been judged and mine chosen as the best (yada, yada - can I have the keys now! hehe). The Subaru guys are obviously petrolheads too and happy to chat car related stuff all day. Although it was not a factor in their choice for the competition winner, I am probably their target demographic ie a history of driving some quick-ish cars, now with a need for some practicality like 4 doors and a boot to accommodate the family but I don't want to give up the performance I've been used to.

When we arrived at the dealer the car was sat outside at the front, gleaming in the sunshine with a photographer already set up with his various tripods, lights and cameras. I'm not usually comfortable being the centre of attention so it was pretty strange posing for the photos - a bit like on your wedding day.. We did all the obligatory photos, handshakes, keys being handed over, me in the driver's seat grinning like an idiot etc.. Strangely it still doesn't feel like "my" car yet :-/

The colour we'd chosen was the dark grey metallic - just like the pics on the PH microsite. This really does suit the car down to the ground - it shows off the curves of the wheel arch flares nicely and has a real quality look to it.

The car is pretty understated in the dark colour especially as mine has no rear spoiler - very stealthy! Unlike some of the earlier Subuarus you see in their "rally" spec bright blues with gold wheels and spoilers my car is very discreet and probably won't even register on the non-petrolheads radar - as far as I'm concerned that's just perfect.

When all the photos were done I had a "regular" new car handover with the local Subaru dealer guy. This really is a very complex car - lots of stuff I think I understood but probably need to pull out the manual and have a proper read. The car has a choice of three different engine maps, sport, sport sharp and intelligent AND you have control of the centre diff. I'm going to leave everything in the default/ auto settings for now until the car's run in and I've read the manual properly to find out exactly what I'm doing when I start playing with those buttons.

With all the handover stuff out of the way, a final handshake with the Dealer Principal and I have the keys in my hand. It's mine.

Blue skies, free car.. am I dreaming?!

I'd promised my little boy he could have a ride home in the new car so I popped the car seat in the rear, installed him, and off we go.

The car needs to be run in for the first 1,000 miles or thereabouts, so no fast stuff just yet. It's VERY hard to keep it to the 3,500 recommended rpm limit! It's a bit too early for detailed comments on how it drives, but the things that strike you even on the short ride home are:
- the seats; absolutely fantastic Recaros - without doubt the best seats I've had in any car
- the noise; it's got a great characterful flat-four throb that sounds like no other car out there
- gear change; a lovely short precise throw and a direct mechanical feel

I'm looking forward to learning more about the car and I plan to get the run-in period out of the way as soon as I can. I'll post some more thoughts and experiences of running the car onto the blog over the coming few months.

Oh, and Lewis fell asleep on the way back - seems the excitement was just too much for him!

@ 24 miles. Tuesday 1st February 2011

After waiting what seemed like an age, I finally got to get my hands on the car today woohoo!


Subaru UK had prepared and taxed the car for me, and arranged a handover at my local dealer.

When we arrived the car was sitting out side the front of the dealership, gleaming in the winter sunshine in a way that a car only ever does when its truly spanking new (like shiny brake calipers for instance). It still didn't feel real even after I had the keys in my pocket - what a strange experience, a free car..

After the obligatory handshaking and photos (we were very lucky, clear blue skies and fab sunshine) and a great handover from the dealer it was mine to drive away.

I'm still pinching myself and checking its still on the drive..

Anyway, a few blackberry pics of the car on the driveway, and I'm now running in for a thousand miles or so - I don't think its going to take long to clock that up

Insurance Thursday 13th January 2011
I've spent a lot of time shopping around for this - further complicated by my wife's desire to retain the BMW touring which ties up my 9 yrs no claims discount.

I found that LV will happily take a letter from my employer as proof of an unblemished driving history in lieu of a formal ncd from another insurer which is useful.

Unfortunately with 6 points and a couple of bumps its just too much to put my wife on the insurance, so this is just for me
Wednesday 10th November 2010
For the competition I'd added a WRX STI to "my garage" as a fantasy car.

To avoid confusion I've removed that entry but just in case anyone's interested, here's a copy of the text I'd put against that car:


Reasons for wanting to win:

I've been reading Pistonheads since around 2000, joining up as a member early 2001 and I've been using the blog section of the garage for various cars since I bought my Esprit V8 at around that time.

Although I've been extremely lucky and have run some very nice cars, I'm really not in the same league as some of the guys on PH with their fantasy Lambo-stuffed garages. I'm a regular guy with a regular job (I work in a factory in a mid-level management role) and although I spunked a lot of cash on running my esprits back in the day, this was a real stretch for me. At the time i was probably spending the majority of my income on the car, sacrificing other things to be able to live my dream.. more than once I paid a repair invoice on my credit card not really knowing how I was going to pay it off. Don't regret a minute of it however.. check the blog - I did LOTS of stuff in those cars

A combination of redundancies (my wife twice, me luckily just the once) and the arrival of two lovely children means I don't have the spare resources to run a "fun" car for vmax, trackdays etc any more. I would say I am now suffering from what i would call "empty garage syndrome" - I now get my automotive fixes via PH, Evo magazine and I channel my frustrations into [reversible] go-faster tweaks to my skoda estate company car.

If i won the subaru my plan is for this to become my wife's daily car replacing our 9yr old bmw taking the kids to and from nursery, plus it can double as a "fun" weekend car for me to get back to some of the stuff I used to do, trackdays etc.

It won't be long until Lewis is old enough to join in too..

The WRX would be a great car for me – it could be safe, reliable, versatile family transport with the confidence and control you get with All Wheel Drive (especially useful given the arctic weather we’re having) plus it’s fast and fun for those occasions when it’s just me on my own. I think the word I’m looking for is “versatile”

Thanks for reading.