Thanks to Quenbys in Baldock, Herts, I had the opportunity for a test drive in a PPP equipped WRX UK300 and was pleasantly surprised.
In the looks department I have to say the car is better in real life but it still doesn't look right in my eyes. The headlight cluster is made up with Hella units similar to those used in the P1 driving light conversion. Maybe we'll see a gas discharge option (although the high beam combines the side light bulb so not sure how that would work)? Shame the surround was not colour coded. An inconspicuous lip spoiler is also included at the front, again not colour coded :-(
The front reflector and side repeater indicators are clear rather than orange and the better for it. The side skirts are nicely colour coded! Gold OZ Racing 18inch alloys sporting Pirelli P-Zero 225/40 ZR 18 tyres sit in the wheel arches...those standard Subaru 4 pots look a bit tiny.
At the back we immediately get drawn to the controversial rear wing. It certainly can be regarded as "unique". It will be interesting to see if the paint stays on this one as the P1 item leaves a lot to be desired.
This car is fitted with the Prodrive Performance Pack, commonly known as PPP and the single round tail pipe (rather than the twin tail pipe on the standard car, or the oval tail pipe on the WR back box) is the main giveaway. Under the bonnet in the engine bay, a single blue Samco type hose with the "Prodrive" logo peaks out front under the intercooler. Unseen is the revised ECU. Note the UK300 sticker on the intercooler.
The interior is tastefully trimmed in blue alcantara, there are UK300 car mats and a single plaque on the center mini sun visor telling me this is 40 of 300. Well the best bit in my opinion about the UK300 is the bucket seats. They are so comfortable! Jumping into a standard car in the showroom proves they are not just the same bucket seat re trimmed. I assume these are the same as fitted to the STi and they take it one step further from what is fitted in my P1.
So start the engine...burble burble burble. The WRX has got its soundtrack back! It is louder though than the older pre New Age cars with standard exhausts. Pull out into Baldock High Street and join the traffic. I had forgotten how good the WRX brakes are. I can't feel those 18in alloys yet which was surprising even though John and Glenn had already mentioned it.
With only 22 miles on the clock I was not going to abuse the engine (that much ;-) and it was obviously still quite tight but I can confirm that the WRX with PPP feels like the turbo of old. It does NOT feel like an MY99/00 with PPP though. Now that did feel good. It isn't a P1 either (no surprise). The engine note is quite good but I personally would probably find it tiring on a long run (hey I'm getting old). Interestingly the WRX PPP sounds totally different to the MY00/99 PPP as there is no jet fighter roar when the thing gets on song.
The light steering still annoys me but it was not as bad as I remember from the standard WRX so the 18in might make the difference. The 18in do wander slightly and you can feel something going on but you are a bit remote. Handling though is good and very confidence inspiring. Good fun really, its just a shame there is not more feedback. As this was on standard suspension I can only imagine what Prodrive has got up their sleeve. Pete Croneys Scoobysport demonstrator on its Leda kit must be awesome!
So would I buy one? Well as I don't really like the headlights, or the rear wing not really. The WRC front end styling is lost with the Thunderbirds rear wing and it would probably have been better with a WRC replica. Not colour coding the lip spoiler and light surround is a bit strange, especially as the side skirts have been done. Those seats though were exceptionally good ;-)
The PPP goes a long way to restore the legend back to its cult status and will please many with the soundtrack too, so roll on when it is generally available to standard WRX owners. One surprise was the 18in wheels which did not crash or bang over every pothole as expected and enhanced the already good handling.
Finally...the name UK300 is a bit of a disappointment, especially as it doesn't refer to the power output ;-)
Onto the TS test drive
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