The 2005 model at first glance has very few visible revisions to distiguish the car over the 2003/4 face lift models. There are though quite a few improvements in the complete range.
Impreza WRX STi Type-UK Gains:
Impreza WRX Gains:
Impreza 2.0 GX Gains:
All 2005 Imprezas Gain:
The easiest way to tell a 2005 model from the 2003/4 model is to look at the centre console. If the rotary controls stand proud, then it is the 2005 model. The WRX also exhibits red painted brake calipers.
For further details see the UK press release.
Jumping into the STi the cabin seems familiar and not really much different from last years model, but then the differences start to show. The new improved console is there but down next to the hand brake on the transmission tunnel is a couple of unfamiliar (to the UK models at least) switches. These relate to the driver controlled centre differential (DCCD-A) but for the moment I leave them set to automatic. DCCD-A, first seen in last years MY2004 special edition, the WR1 is an electromechanical differential that replaces the viscous coupling diff in the previous UK STi. A manual on/off switch determines manual or automatic operation whilst a thumb wheel alongside is used to determine the amount of lock that can be applied from free to completely locked. This gives the car a whole new persona in the handling stakes and comes into its own on loose, wet or icy surfaces.
Driving down the road out into the countryside the first thing you notice is that the power seems to come in sooner and stronger. I remember the New Age STi as being fast but also quite a tiring drive to keep things on the boil, but now even though the power/torque figures are the same as last years the dyno in the bum says different!
Entering some fast curves the handling is quite sure footed, and as they tighten no hint of under steer what ever. I am pretty sure the last STi I drove wasn't this good. Then again this remark is not surprising due to the increase in wheel base, a wider track at the back, wider wheels/tires, new differentials, anti yaw and of course DCCD. I was getting worried.... this was really good.
Further up the road we got into traditional country lane stuff and again the STi was very impressive. The steering feedback felt just right and again this has been upgraded from last years car. The Brembo brakes were as reassuring as ever too.
Heading into Luton I was surprised how compliant the suspension felt. This STi had been fitted with the Prodrive spring upgrade and I would certainly recommend them. Pot holes were taken without the normal teeth shattering experience. Even speed bumps were not a real problem (yeeehah! only kidding ;-). Trickling through traffic the STi felt quite relaxing. mmm I think this misses the point Prodrive had when they developed those springs.
Heading back to Baldock I was able to take the car over one of my favourite country lane routes. See my P1 page for a fuller description. All of a sudden I wasn't so sure. It was fast, along this route I knew so well, but it did not feel as good as the P1. It suddenly felt heavier which of course it was in comparison to the P1. As well as heavier it felt bigger too.
As this was a route I knew I turned around and had another go. This time I switched the DCCD to manual and knocked the thumb wheel to position number 1, partially locking the centre differential. Would the car feel different? To be honest I'm not sure I could. What I did notice was at slow speed on tight turns the differential complained by audiably banging.
So could I live with this version of the STi? Most certainly. Would I swap the P1 for one? mmmm difficult decision that. I have to say I almost went for it, well a new car vs a 5 year old. Then again that last drive up my favourite route and the rumours of a 2.5 litre engine in next years STi made me say not yet.
Thanks have to go to Quenbys who allowed me to have the STi a little bit longer than the normal test drive.
The following press releases were made in the UK regarding the MY2005.
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updated 3rd July 2005
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