Scoop 2 - Steve buys a P1!
Back in August 1999 I heard on the grape vine as official as rumours could get that there was going to be an STi imported into the country by the UK importers. I immediately phoned Quenbys my dealer and asked to order an STi, which he pointed out they could not and would not supply. I just asked him to put my name down for one as they were coming..... September Autocar answered a few questions and scooped that Prodrive had been developing a UK car around the STi chassis and engine. October and the official announcement was made. Unfortunately customer cars were far away and the first cars did not reach the show rooms until the end of March. A supply problem with the spoilers then delayed the second batch until early May and on 23rd May I received a phone call to say that there was a transported outside with two P1 on it! YAHOO!
By the way, one thing to be aware of is to for you and your dealer to register the car with the security people as soon as the car arrives with them and not to wait until you arrive to pick it up. *This is VERY important*.
The only extra ordered with the car was a product called Amazing Glaze. This is an exterior paint protection which helps resist grime, stains and the like attacking the surface of the paint. I had the Catalunya protected with a similar material called Jewel Ultra and this was supposed to be better and apparently British Airways used it on their aircraft to protect the paint from UV!
On seeing the car at the dealers I immediately perceived a problem...THAT spoiler would be too low to get the car up my drive. I had been worried before but now on seeing it I was sure. So on the first time I approached my drive it was with great intrepidation...it was close...damn close!
So close in fact if I approach at an angle, or come in faster than 2mph it scrapes the tarmac. OUCH. Never mind P in P1 standing for Performance, Prodrive, Partnership etc...it stands for Plough! ;-)
The rear wing is not as high as an STi and looks the part, but obscures the rear view very badly. A car several car lengths behind is not visible from the sun visor up (i.e. you can not see the blue flashing lights ;-) and anything 100 yards or further back just disappears. P1 owners will have to get used to using their wing mirrors.
The running in period according to the manual is 1000 miles and the given limit is 4000rpm "except for exceptional circumstances such as emergencies". This is a bit of a pain as it all just starts to get interesting at 4000rpm when you need to change up. In comparison to my Catalunya '97 turbo it is a lot smoother and will happily drive along at 2000rpm. The low down torque seems to be less though but it could be deceptive due to the way the boost comes in later. It is definitely slower though...it took over 90 minutes to do the last 2 miles to my house on the day I picked it up. On coming into the village I was following an MY2000 turbo, and the owner waved for me to stop and talk. Then when I entered my estate a local MY99 owner I know was out playing with his radio control WRC and waved and we chatted. Finally on getting home my nieghbough, a car nut himself stood and talked!
First thoughts on handling is a mixture of exceptional to too hard. On fast sweeping bends/roundabouts etc it is extremely composed. The downside is that the suspension is quite hard (much more than my Cat even though I had the 17in Speedline alloys on it) and you can feel every pot hole, rut, and bunny rabbit you run over. The car sits noticeably lower at the front due to the replacement springs fitted here in the UK (plus the spoiler makes it even lower still). My once favourite country lanes do not give the same reward but it could also be due to not being able to keep the engine in the power band.
Interior is better than I was expecting and slightly more up market to the standard UK spec. car, but STi owners will tell you they've had this quality for years (and a better air con). Other neat things include an aluminium bonnet/hood (again carried over from the STi), Prodrive monogrammed seats, mats and badging.
During the running in phase, on Super 97RON fuel has shown the car to be better mpg than my '97.
Four weeks later and the car was in for the 1000 mile free (labour) service. The only thing extra needing attending to was the passenger door which I felt could be better aligned with the body. Whilst at the dealers I was able to have a look at a Prodrive P1 exhaust silencer. Shame it wasn't fitted to a car as I would have liked to hear one before committing myself.
I have to say the car takes on a whole new personality when allowed beyond 4000rpm. It's an express train. The power delivery is totally different to the UK MY97 turbo that I had before. Where as the UK car comes in lower in the rev range with more of a kick it then accelerates at a similar rate tails off and gets harsh. The P1 (and presumably STi) is smoother but accelerates and the rate of acceleration gets faster, no harshness, and begs you to go to the red line. It is very deceptive due to the lack of harshness and you end up very fast too often. If you want the kick it is there around 4000rpm but you tend to fly straight through it. It is hard to describe really.
Handling. Wow. There is a section of road on my way to work that *was* my favourite section of road anywhere. During running in I began to hate that section with the P1. It starts out up hill and twists and turns all the way for a mile/ 2miles before cresting the Chilterns and dropping down the other side dead straight with a hairpin right at the bottom, followed by another dead straight with a hairpin left. There follows quite a nice drop as you curve left to then swing right through a small valley a quick right followed by some very tight left, right lefts and then all slow into a village. In the Cat I used to feel YES! The more compliant standard suspension let me really go for it as there were a few bumps and lumps in the road. In the P1 I was really struggling but as I said I was limited to 4000rpm. In the last week it has all come together. The changing point was one night coming home in the opposite direction....down that hill. It was magic. The biggest grin formed as Imprezaitis caught hold. Something just seemed to click. Going up the hill was transformed too.
Conclusion for me is take it by the scruff of its neck in those situations and the car rewards. What is really surprising is I probably have only used the full potential a couple of times...so I'm not getting used to it yet.
Economy? I hate to admit it but I have been monitoring it and I wish I wasn't. 20 to 22mpg. I did get 27mpg one week during running in.
Five weeks of ownership and I spotted paint bubbles on the rear wing.
It looks like the paint has not properly keyed to the underlying surface. The top of the P has bubbled the entire length whilst there can also be seen a bubble in the crack of the false cover plate in the lower quarter of this shot. Subsequent to this photo the paint has started lifting on the top left of the wing. No other area of the wing or the car is affected. Immediately I phoned the dealer and a replacement was ordered.
Not only bubbles but the rear wing became a resting place for quite a large butterfly whilst my car was parked at work. As co-incidence would have it I was passing with a digital camera! Perhaps this is the start of a "thing on a wing" spot for the web site?
The replacement wing arrived a few weeks later (there seems to be a shortage) and was fitted. At the same time my dealer had three P1 sitting awaiting delivery...all with an STi spoiler top half instead of the Prodrive item.
Whilst the car was there my car was put up on the ramps to check out the suspension bushes, in particular the front anti roll bar. A couple of nights before hand the car had developed a chirping sound on undulating/rough roads. Not quite audible above the radio and I doubt if anyone would have noticed it if you had not have driven the car for 3000 miles without it there! A day later we had a lot of rain and it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and that morning I had tried for an hour of driving to get it to come back. Even so Quenbys had a look. Thoughts were it was the suspension bushes, in particular the anti-roll bar.
Only a month with the new wing and it is bubbling again in exactly the same place as last time. To make matters worse this one looks worse than the one it replaced!
Also the squeak is back and to add to the list of minor annoyances the drivers seat has developed a squeak too. All are set to be fixed on the 6 month interval service next month.
The wing had another visitor too!
As the 6 month service approached I decided that the P1 needed a new sound track. The dealer had a Prodrive P1 back box in stock and I was a bit indecisive whether to go for it or not. In the end I could not make up my mind and it was left that unless I let them know otherwise, I was not going through with it. On the day of the service I went over to the show room to bug the salesmen and see how they were getting on with the new WRX. In conversation it transpired there had been a misunderstanding. They thought I was going to say if I did not want the box and to go ahead otherwise. OOPS. Fate had decided for me.
As well as the service and the replacement silencer the suspension struts were looked at with respect to the squeak. The spring mounts themselves were lubricated, particularly where they seated upon the struts. The seat belt latch was also lubricated.
As the car was brought round the front for me, my immediate thought was "It's not that much louder...". Perhaps if I said it over and over I could convince myself. With a grin I drove the car out through Baldock and it was great. What a sound. The open road beckoned and I opened it up...the grin got bigger. At the top end the car seemed to accelerate faster, which must be due to the free flow nature of the exhaust allowing the gasses to escape faster and the turbo to spool up quicker.
On getting nearer home, it was time to slow down a bit. It was now I noticed a droning around 3000 to 4000 rpm. The resonant frequency of the system seemed to match my normal cruising speed. I found it a bit distracting. It was strange I had not noticed it before.
Later that evening I had to head off to meet up with some friends involving a 10 mile across country drive. On leaving no droning, weird. I did notice though the car seemed to have lost some lower down torque. This is a well known side effect of some exhaust systems which breath too well at the lower end trading low down torque for top end power. After a spirited run across country and slowing down for town speed limits I noticed the droning was back. I was now getting worried I had made a poor decision going for the thing. After our get together one of the friends, a fellow car enthusiast mentioned the exhaust note sounded "gorgeous". I have to admit it sure did. The trip home was exactly the same, with the noise factor fine until the system became hot.
The next day I took the car on a long run. It was great fun with the car pulling strongly in the 4000 and upwards rev range. Again the droning returned after the system became warm. Imagine a low resonance booming. It was becoming distracting. In fact it was giving me a headache! Also I was beginning to miss that low down torque I was sure should be there. The decision was made, I was going to get the thing changed back.
Day 3 and I drove away from the house and through the village. As usual no droning. If only it was like this all the time. Again I was having second thoughts. A rather unuseful suggestion had been received on the problem "What are you doing travelling between 3000-4000rpm?" the day before. A second opinion was sought from a fellow Impreza owner who I took out for a ride and he also thought the noise was distracting. During this time it was physically making me feel nauseous! It had to go. Definitely.
The dealer was understanding and swapped the original STi back box back onto the car. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Just driving away I could immediately feel the difference in low down torque. It was a completely different car. We had lost the cool exhaust note, and the droning too. Perceived top end power was slightly down though but I can live with that. So in summary....
I have been out with the digital camera again and decided to do a comparison with the headlights on dipped, main and then with the driving lights kicked in. Here's the result.
A bird took dislike to the P1 in our car park one day and gave it a bit of a polka dot finish. Was it practising to be a pilot for the Dambusters?
I suppose it had to happen. The P1 was attacked by an errant shopping trolley in my local Sainsburys supermarket.
A really good job was done by a local body shop, Bourne Brothers in Arelsey near Baldock, Herts. They came highly recommended by my local Subaru dealer and had attended to a couple of P1's before.
The sickening thing was that 24 hours after picking up the car I then parked it in a local retail park car park to have a look at some furniture. On returning to the car a mother was attending to her young one in the back seat of their car parked alongside mine with the back door firmly planted in the side of my car! I wasn't impressed by her husbands offer of £25 to fix it......... He couldn't get his head around the fact I had paid £185 the day before for a resprayed wing. In the end I left it.
May 2001 - The first birthday was also approaching so what to do to celebrate? The 12 month service was booked and a Prodrive/Alcon brake upgraded ordered at the same time. I had debated whether to go for the official Prodrive upgrade or whether to visit Scoobysport for the Brembo option or to see Scoobymania for the AP Racing item. In the end I decided that keeping the brand labelling consistent, along with the potential warranty issues of the others and stay with the official Prodrive/Alcon route. I also remembered to chase up the replacement rear wing.
The service and fitting of the brakes plus new wing took the best part of a day and I borrowed a New Age Impreza TS 1.6 as a courtesy car. Quite a big jump in performance and I have written up the experience as the TS test drive in the New Age section of this site.
These brakes are HUGE.
The picture on the left superimposes both the standard P1/MY99/MY99 Subaru 4 pot brake on the same wheel as the Prodrive Alcon calliper and disc. Stopping power as you would expect is very good. One other advantage is that the Subaru items are cast iron so retain heat more and after a number of hard stops can be found wanting. The Prodrive Alcons (as with most big brake upgrades) not only increase the rotor size and thus the swept area and mechanical advantage of the calliper but manufacture the calliper from aluminium to disperse the heat away from the piston (and thus oil reservoir).
After a careful running in period I can say that stopping power has been improved immensely! I am not sure but I do not think that the initial bite is as good as the standard 4 pots though but when pressing on it is reassuring that they give you the same performance again and again. One bunny rabbit at least has their life to thank to Mr Prodrive! You also have to think about who/what is following you as well as you could end up restyling your rear bumper.
Within a week the rear wing was showing itself worse for wear. Third time had not been lucky and the paint was literally cracking off of this one!
So two weeks after replacement number 3 was fitted we are now onto number 4. At least this allowed me to drop by the show room and try out the WRX UK300 PPP for a test drive.
A few months earlier, the car had started knocking from somewhere at the back but only under certain conditions and not consistently. Unfortunately when I dropped the car in for the service the mechanic could not replicate the fault. A few weeks later I was sure it had got worse and more consistent so Quenbys took the car in for further investigation. Again nothing could be found or heard and I myself picked the car up with the aim to make the damn thing knock if it was the last thing I did! It took me 90 minutes before the car started its characteristic knocking so I can sympathise with the mechanics as all they had to go on was my description.
The best way to describe the problem is to imagine something on the back passenger side wheel rubbing, but only at a certain point of wheel rotation (brings back thoughts of push bike brakes and wonky wheels). The trouble was it only occurred when it wanted to. The most frequent it did occur was when I parked the car up a kerb onto the pavement (via a driveway on ramp I might add...) so that two sets of wheels were higher than the other on the road. Running the car backwards to the use the same driveway to get the wheels back onto the road and you could feel and hear this rubbing sound. graunch graunch graunch graunch.
The mechanic was happy once he had heard the knock for himself and went on to investigate the suspension with thoughts that the top mounts needed looking at. He eventually discovered the knock went away when the anti roll bar was disconnected so he replaced the anti roll bar link connected it all back up and still no knock! The strange thing is that the one which came off looks no different to the one that went on to replace it. Still, I was now a happy P1 owner again.
During this period of time I had a New Age Impreza GX for a courtesy car and it came as a shock to jump back into the P1 after nearly a week away! See the IWOC email I posted about this inverse test drive in the classics section.
Have I really had the car 18 months? Blimey. In for a service at Quenbys with the mileage at just over 15,000. Nothing to report really.
It was raining. There was this puddle. I couldn't quite get in the car properly and ended up falling in, I lost my balance and pushed the door hard open. The car was parked alongside a wall, with a nice decorative cap stone ridge. You can imagine the rest. A very small but deep notch right on the edge of the door.
December 2001 - I upgraded the headlight bulbs to H4+60% and the driving lights to H7+50%. The difference is amazing and the +60% are an improvement over the +50% that were in there and give a good coverage on low beam. The H7 improve the small Hellas output from standard, but I still miss the Cibie 130W I was running in my previous Catalunya. The bulbs are available from IWOC member Andy Batters at special discounted rates, drop me a line if interested.
Unfortunately I thought I could improve things by altering the alignment on the headlights. Just a quick note that it is possible to totally bollox up your headlight if you get it wrong. I tried adjusting mine and turned the screw to tilt them a bit and nothing was happening. So I turned it more, and more and ...the lens took a very sudden drop. Turning it in the opposite direction and nothing. Plus it was very "free" now.
So I dismantled quite a fair bit of the front end of the car and took the head light out. The part of the headlight where the ball joint on the little rod which pushes the lens during the tilt is located is now rattling around inside the back of the headlight casing with a rather largish hole in its place and it has lost the ability to adjust!! The headlight is now pointing in the general direction of four foot in front of the car.
Rang around a few people to confirm the worst. So new headlight or upgrade? mmmm an early Christmas pressie for myself! Thanks to Mike at Scoobymania for supply of some Morette quad beam headlights, and Pete at Scoobysport for helping diagnosing and trying to help out to rectify the problem. Unfortunately the real problem is idiot at the controls! (should I admit at this point I had inadvertently and unknowingly had done the same one the other side? naah.)
The new headlights arrived, but then got stored away as the unadjustable headlights seemed to have settled into an acceptable position.
On trying to open the door to my car one evening I found it a bit stiff and would not go past about 10 inches. I tried again but pulling a lot harder and CRACK! I immediately shut it again and it made a similar horrible metal on metal graunching sound.
Here is the same side in day light. Note the wing has been altered to allow the door to open without catching the door.
So the P1 went to visit the nice chaps at Bourne Brothers again (01462 731403 ask for Simon) and a new wing and door later was as good as new. I also got the small dink removed from the rear wing and the new door fixed my wall altercation too. As well as these bits I also had the Morrettes colour coded and a P1 side impact strip coded and fitted....although it would not have saved the car in any of the above situations).
April 1st 2002 - Through contacts via these pages I have obtained what must be described as the ultimate induction kit. An experimental high flow paper KoNe filter which is under going trials on various high power Impreza models. It is shown here fitted to the car with the bonnet in the up position. It unclips, the bonnet is shut and then the filter clips back on. The bonnet air vent is removed to give access.
Sitting on top of the bonnet the filter is in the airflow stream. Now the clever bit...it spins! This creates a vortex down the centre of the filter actually sucking in more air! Yes a wind powered turbine which aids the actual turbo and increases high speed boost (when the turbo is running out of steam) by 4psi.
The tires we well past their best at 18,000 miles so I decided to replace them before the next service and look around at something different. Toyo Proxes T1-S were getting good reviews from members of IWOC, as were Bridgestone SO3 (but not as popular as SO2) and Goodyear Eagle F1. I could get a pretty good price on the Toyos so I went with them. The Pirellis are a pretty unique size in 205/45x17 with most manufacturers choosing 215/40x17 which for all intensive purposes is compatible size on the Impreza.
The Toyos look superb with their directional tread pattern and are definitely quieter than the Pirellis. Initial grip level was like driving on ice as the mould release compound was worn away but after 50-100 miles they were behaving more normal! Comparison with the Pirellis is difficult as one set is brand new and the other well past best but grip levels seem up. Ride quality also seems better but this is obtained probably due to a less stiff side wall which in turn I feel loses some feedback through the steering. As time has gone on, they have bedded in a bit better and I have got used to them more and can thoroughly recommend them.
New tires and the car has been up and down on the jacks. The good weather is also here, wooohooo! As things dry out I start to hear a familiar knocking sound coming from the rear. Yes its the dreaded suspension noise which was diagnosed last year to be an anti roll bar link....but was it? Back to Quenbys for some diagnostics. The problem is that it doesn't do it unless the car has done around 10 miles before hand. They detected a problem with the drive shaft, so a new one was ordered and fitted at the 2 year interval service. Unfortunately it did not fix the problem and the car went back for further diagnosis. A trip around Baldock with me driving and the mechanic in the passengers seat determined that it could well be the rear suspension strut. A new damper was ordered and fitted the following week. The car was transformed :-) No knocking, graunching and the back end felt a lot more secure too.
A rattle, knocking and buzzing noise was coming from the engine compartment one night in October. Closer investigation with the bonnet up and it was discovered I had become a victim of the well known alarm bracket failure! The bracket had sheared at the right-angled bend and the alarm horn was dangling in the engine bay held only by the wiring loom! A temporary fix with a few cable ties and Quenbys were given a ring the following morning to arrange for a new bracket to be fitted at the November service interval.
April 2003 and the first MOT is approaching fast for the P1. There is no way that the headlights will get through the MOT so I decide to set aside the Easter weekend for fitting the Morettes. Only 14 months after I had bought them! The trials and tribulations of fitting them can be read in the how to section and the final results can be seen below and I have to admit that it looks even better than I imagined it would.
The 45,000 mile service interval came up even though the car has only done 29000 miles as the car is coming upto its 3rd birthday! Service intervals are every 7500 miles or 6 months whichever comes first. The 45k means new cam belt and it is a major service in the book. Not much to report and it was faultlessly carried out by Quenbys and I had a funky little Daihatsu YRV to play in for the day. They were also able to source and arrange fitment of two Toyo tires as the ones on the back were getting a bit worn plus the week before I had picked up a screw :-(
First impressions on the new tires (fitted to the rear) were very favourable and much better than the ones that had come off. Also I didn't find them slippery in any way, unlike the original Toyo set I had on there a year ago.
May 2003 - Happy 3rd Birthday! A bit apprehensive as we book our first MOT. Would the P1 pass especially with the Morettes? Of course she did :-) The old boy at the MOT test station said he wasn't sure if he'd be able to get out of the bucket seat once he was in. So how green is a 3 year old Impreza P1? The following table gives the MOT exhaust emission readings for my car on the day of the test
|Oil Temp degC||80 min||80|
|Fast idle rpm||2500-3000||2700|
|Fast idle CO vol%||0.00-0.30||0.00|
|Fast idle HC vol ppm||0-200||3|
|Natural idle rpm||750-1050||800|
|Idle CO vol%||0.00-0.50||0.02|
The front tires were in need of replacing at the next service. A word of warning that the visible tread can look fine but the inner edges were verging on the legal limit. This could be due to the way the suspension is set, or the fact I drive less energetically these days. Never the less I had the tracking checked along with the new tires. I ended up visiting Tyres Northampton as they were the only place relatively locally to find Toyos. In fact I was strugglng to find anything in 215/40/17!
May 2004 came round very quickly. Blimey 4 years of P1 motoring! Yet another service, this time the 60,000 mile/4 year interval. Subaru are true to their word as the previous month they had announced that spares/consumables had dropped in proce. The oil filter had dropped in price by 50% although there were some subtle increases such as the air filter.
Another year and another MOT. Sailed straight through with the technician at Leyden Motors in Stevenage commenting that the size of the brake discs meant I could dispense with the alloys. Hydrocarbons were up by 100% over last year but we're probably on the noise threshold at 6ppm where the max allowable is 200ppm!
|Oil Temp degC||80 min||bypassed as cooling fan cut in|
|Fast idle rpm||2500-3000||2605|
|Fast idle CO vol%||0.00-0.30||0.00|
|Fast idle HC vol ppm||0-200||6|
|Natural idle rpm||450-1500||765|
|Idle CO vol%||0.00-0.50||0.00|
When it came round to a couple of new tires there was no question but to go for the Toyo Proxies again. Tires Northampton also undertook a 4 wheel alignment check and found the rears to be wildly out. In fact the car must have been crabbing down the road! Had I clipped any curbs since the last time the alignment had been checked....couldn't remember any such insident.
The P1 had a holiday down in Cornwall at the end of October. There is some fantastic driving, especially along the A38 North Atlantic Highway and I thoroughly recommend the experience, especially off season as we were. Oh and watch the roads around Lynmouth. They are a bit tight, a few 1 in 4 hills and Porlock Hill is just brilliant.
On the way home we stopped off at Brean Sands near Weston Super Mare.
Not much to report at the 67,500 mile service (well it was the 54th month interval really as the mileage is only 46,000) apart from two clips were found missing from the underside of the bumper. They had probably popped out with an encounter with a kerb or speed hump.
|Impreza P1 otr||£31,500|
|Amazing Glaze paint protection||£300|
|First service (1,000 mile)||£53|
|7,500 mile 6 month service||£94|
|Osram Xenon +50% H4||£15|
|15,000 mile 12 month service
incl. anti corrosion treatment and
upgrading brakes to Prodrive/Alcons
|22,500 mile 18 month service||£106|
|Osram Xenon +50% H7 for the driving lights||£28|
|Osram Xenon +60% H4||£17|
|Morette quad lights||£289|
|P1 side impact strips||£87|
|New door, wing, painting and fitting||£950|
|Toyo Proxes T1-S tires x4||£400|
|30,000 mile 24 month service||£411|
|37,500 mile 30 month service||£120|
|45,000 mile 36 month service||£357|
|Toyo Proxes T1-S tires x2||£202|
|52,500 mile 42 month service||£160|
|Toyo Proxes T1-S tires x2 plus tracking alignment||£225|
|60,000 mile 48 month service||£441|
|Toyo Proxes T1-S tires x2 plus tracking alignment||£245|
|67,5000 mile 54 month service||£134|
And now some arty shots....
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For details of the P1, how it was developed, general problems encountered and test drive reports see the P1 info pages.
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Page created 11th June 2000 and last updated 8th November 2004.
Copyright © 2000/1/2/3/4 Steve Breen
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