RE: Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type UK: PH Fleet

RE: Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type UK: PH Fleet

Sunday 5th May

Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type UK: PH Fleet

Service time for Ben's Impreza. Any excuse for a 300-mile round trip



You could be forgiven for thinking that Dan and I had both sold our Subarus, given that until last month he hadn't provided an update for more than a year and I've been nearly as bad. RacingPete has even bought a WRX STI wagon in that time; the bug is clearly spreading in the office, but at least it's the kind of STI we'd all like to have...

Despite buying back my old Megane in November, then, the Impreza keys have been the first to be picked up when it comes to going out for a drive on the weekend. Especially during the cold winter months, with wet greasy roads proving the ultimate playground. You can't be fooled into thinking four-wheel drive will give you grip everywhere, though, as one of my friends discovered as he went sideways through a slippery roundabout; I laughed but he seemed petrified by the unprovoked slide.


When I bought the car I knew it had the big belts service looming. So after researching my options, I drove the 300-mile roundtrip from Kent to Loughborough to Scoobyworld to get the job done. The service and advice I've had from the team there has been fantastic, so it made sense to go and meet them and I don't need an excuse for a drive. While it's no Golf, I have to say it's an incredibly comfortable car for a long trip, even on the motorway. In sixth gear the exhaust burble is noticeable but it's not overpowering and doesn't drone. The seats are super comfy and with an upgraded Apple CarPlay head unit, the three-hour journey was over in no time at all.

The drive I've been most looking forward to, though, was the first PistonHeads Sporting Tour of the year, taking place on my doorstep in Kent. If you're yet to see what we've been up to with our driving tours, they are one-day routes on open public roads, navigated by a Tulip route book in full rally driver and co-driver fashion. For the more competitive amongst the group, we have timed autotests just before lunch, taking place at Brands Hatch this time around on a section of the GP circuit and the tarmac rally stage. Enter the Impreza; even Pete tagged along in his wagon.

My co-driver and event organiser, Tony Clements, rallies his own Evo X so I was reticent to tell him what we'd be driving. I didn't get a single complaint all day, though, and I'm sure I caught the odd smile too. I'll admit I love an Evo as well, but you were either an Evo person or an Impreza person when it came to rallying and I was obviously the latter growing up. I do still have Tommi Makinen and Colin McRae's autographs on my wall at home from my first ever rally my dad took me to as a boy, but I digress.


I've been content over the last year enjoying the car on weekends through the summer and mostly driving it in the dry, but my god does it come alive in the wet. The grip is astounding and so predictable, you never feel like you're not in control, yet the 300hp the Prodrive Performance Pack provides is the perfect amount to keep you grinning ear to ear as the Boxer rumble echoes around you.

My car is still on its standard suspension, so the ride was relatively soft and perfect for gently making progress across the 170-mile route through Kent. I was absolutely in my element as Tony called out directions while we peered over the bonnet scoop at the quiet Kentish lanes. With the chirps from my dump valve and the bassy Boxer exhaust notes, it's the closest I'll get to my rallying dream without venturing into the forests.


FACT SHEET

Car: 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type UK
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: July 2018
Mileage: 51,762
Previous reports:
Time for a new exhaust
Ben finally gets himself a Impreza






Author
Discussion

mrclav

Original Poster:

790 posts

164 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
For some reason I no longer find the 'bug-eye' look quite as offensive as I did back when they first appeared - familiarity breeds comfort, perhaps?

C.MW

83 posts

10 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
What a fabulous car and I can tell you're enjoying yourself a lot with it! And the tour does sound tempting :-). I'm glad there are people out there who still find a joy in driving what is one of the best driver's cars regardless of price, the GDB Impreza.


Edited by C.MW on Sunday 5th May 09:00

Cambs_Stuart

466 posts

25 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Fantastic car.
But that's a long way to go for a service. Have you tried slow boy racing near brands hatch?

mike74

1,225 posts

73 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
mrclav said:
For some reason I no longer find the 'bug-eye' look quite as offensive as I did back when they first appeared - familiarity breeds comfort, perhaps?
You do realise this one is a blob eye?

I agree about the bugeye, I think the Provdrive style bugeye is the most purposeful looking Impreza there is.

DoubleD

7,727 posts

49 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Is this the engine thats really unreliable? Or is that the 2.5?
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Cambs_Stuart

466 posts

25 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
Is this the engine thats really unreliable? Or is that the 2.5?
This has the 2.0, which is very tough. The 2.5 has had a lot of issues around head gaskets and ringland failures.

mike74

1,225 posts

73 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
Is this the engine thats really unreliable? Or is that the 2.5?
That's the 2.5

It's just rotten arches and suspension turrets that are starting to become an issue on these, as with the classics and bugeyes before them.

DoubleD

7,727 posts

49 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
So the 2.0 still isnt a car that can be run and maintained cheaply then?

wab172uk

1,287 posts

168 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
I had a 2005 STI PPP for just over 3 years (from new). I also had the Prodrive spring kit a PFF7 Alloys fitted.

I always thought it was a bit skittish in the wet on the original springs and Bridgestone Tyres. Once the Prodrive bits were fitted and some Michelin tyres fitted, it stuck to the road like glue.

For 300 bhp it never really felt fast though. My current 296bhp S3 Saloon feels (and would be) quicker everywhere. It had it's bad points. Cheap interior and god awful sound system. But I could forgive the car all of that. It was a great car to own, if a tad thirsty, and was an absolute weapon on a back road whether wet or dry.

Sadly the image did the Impreza no favours. I remember trundling through a village one morning. Mondeo man was doing at least 45mph while I was doing just under 30, as parents and kids were walking along the footpath to school. Yet no one battered an eyelid at speeding Mondeo man, but I had 2 extremely angry women step out into the road screaming at me to slow down, as "I'll kill someone". Guess I was the yobbo in the wannabe rally car.

Similar situations when I dared to overtake someone. Lights flashing, 2 fingers up, shaking coffee beans etc. Yet do the same in my old mans RS4 at the time, nothing !!

Sold it for a Diesel Golf. Now what a mistake that was .......

Edited by wab172uk on Sunday 5th May 11:46


Edited by wab172uk on Sunday 5th May 13:39

Augustus Windsock

1,665 posts

96 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
So the 2.0 still isnt a car that can be run and maintained cheaply then?
I’d suggest it depends on what you mean by cheaply.
If you buy a ‘good’ car then you minimise your exposure to unforeseen costs but a bad ‘un will drain your wallet like any other car
I had a ‘classic’ way back in the very early noughties, bought from its first (elderly) owner with u see 20k on the clock.
Never cost me a bean, it had full Main Dealer history.
Saw it for sale a year ago with 120k under its wheels. Contacted the vendor who told me it was still mint and had been maintained properly too. I was very tempted....
Subsequently had a PPP ‘Blob Eye’ and a mint WR1, both low mile examples with extensive histories.
Perhaps I was lucky but the latter two cost me nothing except fuel, tyres and regular services, no unexpected repairs at all.
ScoobyClinic is around the corner from me, and they have a constant stream of owners turning up for routine maintenance, tuning (and sometimes repairs) so there’s obviously still a lot of love for them, owner-wise.

mike74

1,225 posts

73 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
I can echo what wab172 says.

I had an 05 sti ppp also with prodrive springs. It just never felt that fast, was uninvolving to drive and was hilariously thirsty.

I followed it with a clio 182 which for me felt better in every way, felt faster and more urgent with much more driver involvement. (Although it was spectacularly unreliable).

Inspectre

367 posts

160 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Nice write up, I can feel your enthusiasm! Have not had one of these for a good few years, couple of type UK's, WR1, 2 X Spec C's...mmm (heading to classifieds now). They were all very reliable and trouble free, joy to own and run.

rossub

2,105 posts

131 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
So the 2.0 still isnt a car that can be run and maintained cheaply then?
Any garage can look after them though, they’re not complicated and access for repairs is generally good. Plugs are a slight faff. You don’t need a specialist if you’re not bothered about the stamps.

Cambelt every 5 years is only 3-4 hours labour. Oil change every 5-6000 miles is around £100 a time with quality oil and OE filter.

Brake parts aren’t expensive for what they are, with plenty of choice.

Pre 06 cars are in the £300 tax bracket.

The one thing you can’t get away from is the fuel consumption. 20-25 mpg on the STI.

DoubleD

7,727 posts

49 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Well its good food for thought as im thinking of getting some sort of family car. Needs to be cheapish to run though to help fund another more fun car.

Baileyk

22 posts

5 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
mike74 said:
You do realise this one is a blob eye?

I agree about the bugeye, I think the Provdrive style bugeye is the most purposeful looking Impreza there is.
When the bugeye was released I remember all the hatred it got in the motoring press for its looks and I agreed at the time. Now I think the bugeye is a beautiful car and might be my next car in a few years.

wab172uk

1,287 posts

168 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
rossub said:
DoubleD said:
So the 2.0 still isnt a car that can be run and maintained cheaply then?
Any garage can look after them though, they’re not complicated and access for repairs is generally good. Plugs are a slight faff. You don’t need a specialist if you’re not bothered about the stamps.

Cambelt every 5 years is only 3-4 hours labour. Oil change every 5-6000 miles is around £100 a time with quality oil and OE filter.

Brake parts aren’t expensive for what they are, with plenty of choice.

Pre 06 cars are in the £300 tax bracket.

The one thing you can’t get away from is the fuel consumption. 20-25 mpg on the STI.
I once went through a tank of fuel in about 100 miles. driving


Edited by wab172uk on Sunday 5th May 16:27

mike74

1,225 posts

73 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
I once went through a tank of fuel in about 100 miles. Took it easy getting to the destination and back too. And no it wasn't on a race track driving
Yep, even on an off boost motorway run I swear I could see the petrol gauge needle actually moving downward.

I reckon properly driving it you could drain the fuel tank in less than 60 miles.

mcelliott

5,219 posts

122 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all


Here's my JDM Blobeye I've had for 18 months. Used to drive a bug eyed WRX Wagon before it got written off, but this is a level above. Reliability so far has been very very good, recently had some work done at Slowboy Racing - highly recommended.

rossub

2,105 posts

131 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
I once went through a tank of fuel in about 100 miles. driving


Edited by wab172uk on Sunday 5th May 16:27
I can average 24 mpg in my Twin Scroll 2 litre Spec C, with 350bhp re-map. That’s 260 miles from the 50 litre tank.

Ok that’s driving like everyone else on the road and not too many heavy right foot moments, but it is do-able if need be.

embo182

25 posts

128 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all


Awesome Motor's. Fuel gets much better once the Scooby Novelty wears off, I plod around in mine now with just the occasional play and I'm getting nearly 300 per tank.

When I just got him, it was 170 per tank!