In an obvious bid to discourage ‘unofficial’ imports from Japan, particularly into the UK, Subaru has unveiled new top specification versions of its Impreza WRX for Europe.

Two versions of the 265ps, six-speed ‘road rocket’ are offered – the ‘standard’ STi and the special edition STi Prodrive Style with UK-designed spoilers, grille and front bumper. Both go on sale in January.

The new models have smoked glass projector beam headlamps, bigger bonnet air intakes and a single large-diameter rear exhaust pipe.

Other changes from the regular WRX include gold spoked alloy wheels, colour-keyed sill spoilers and blue suede-effect seats.

There’s also a switch to spray the intercooler with water to boost engine power and another device allows the driver to preset a warning buzzer and light to guard against over-revving the engine.

The intake manifold is painted red and the enlarged aluminium intercooler features ‘STi’ lettering.

The STi Prodrive Style adds a boot spoiler, redesigned sill spoilers and a deeper, square front bumper.

The grille and badging resemble the WRC rally car and interior changes include dark blue-coloured instruments with red needles.

The STi has a top speed of 148 mph and 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds, Subaru says pointedly, “from an engine which has been specially developed to meet European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval standards – unlike the Japanese home-market STi”.

Up to 80 per cent of the STi’s all-alloy engine is new compared to the standard turbocharged 2.0 litre four-cam ‘boxer’ WRX unit.

In order to meet the stringent Euro3 exhaust emission levels, the catalyst is uprated, the air-fuel ratio sensor modified and special multi-hole fuel-injectors fitted.

Maximum power output is 265 PS (261.5 bhp/195 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 253lb-ft (343Nm) of torque at 4,000 rpm.

This compares with the standard WRX figures of 218 PS at 5,600 rpm and 215.4 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.

The European STi has the same new six-speed transmission as the Japanese model.

For the STi, Subaru has added a ‘Suretrac’ LSD in both front and rear axles.

A slightly faster steering rack gives sharper responses and reduces the number of turns lock-to-lock to 2.6. Suspension bushes and front and rear suspension arms are uprated.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Automotive country report: Japan

The world’s car manufacturers: A financial and operating review (download)