I was tightly fastened to the navigational seat of the combat Impreza WRC, and at the wheel - the 2003 world champion Peter Solberg!
In the “meeting room” his voice sounds quite mundane: “Are you o key?” And in these intricacies of wires, toggle switches, handles, my eyes run up - I hurry to see, understand, feel everything at once. After all, the distance of acquaintance is negligible, some two kilometers with a tail. I mumble something in response, thumbs up - ready! The car trembles with his whole body, the engine, choking a little, goes to working speed and … the most powerful, with a slip on the asphalt, a jerk, frantic acceleration - and again a feeling of unreality. You are waiting for a short, but relief in the dynamics of acceleration, but it does not happen. Peter's right hand, barely touching the shift paddles, switches gears unnoticed by the eye.
The Impreza is accelerating at the same unimaginable pace. Underneath an incomparable howl and clank of the transmission, we dive into the rotation. Braking, lateral overload, clearly exceeding the “same” - and rally sideways fly to the exit of the turn. Solberg's legs “ran” a little on the pedals, his hands turned the steering wheel. At the same time, he managed to slow down with a hydraulic handbrake, tighten something in the transmission settings. A masterly precision of movements, a sense of the car, its limits - and not the slightest inaccuracy in control.
There is still a roar in his head, a rumble, but the distance has already been covered. In my, that is, the navigator’s place, another one is aiming, and in the “meeting room” - a little with a spite: “Well, how are you, okay?”
Sporting ambitions did not prevent the creators from updating the usual “civilian” versions of the Impreza. Cosmetically changed her appearance: now, according to stylists, the shape of the false radiator grille, the line of the hood, the outlines of the headlights remind of the aviation past of Fuji Heavy Industries.
Since the requirements of the FIA limit the changes in the aerodynamics of a rally car, many solutions have been worked out on the base model. So, corner spoilers appeared on the front bumper, the shape of the hood air intake was optimized. A diffuser is also installed underneath the machine, also controlling the air flow.
A separate “chapter” in the changes is the new gamut of the famous boxer turbo engines. Under the aluminum hoods of the WRX and WRX STI, 2.5-liter engines with different characteristics are now available.
Another highlight appeared in the transmission of the most powerful Subaru. The new generation's Central Differential DCCD (Driver's Control Center Differential) now allows you to manually or automatically change the distribution of torque between the axles. According to the creators, this added stability and predictability to the car in extreme situations.
After riding on a rally car, I guess it’s not just in my head: “Well, I’ll grab it now!” After all, the winding track is at our disposal, and two Impreza WRX STI are nearby, blinking motors. No matter how! An instructor is on the right seat, and they will give you a couple of laps. What kind of “race” is there - you’ll hardly have time to figure out even with differential control.
A tenacious grip of anatomical chairs, red scales of a luminescent instrument combination. The seat belt is already fastened, the steering wheel, seat are adjusted. Feet “live” perforated pedals, I listen to the characteristic roar of the motor, I try the clarity of the gear shift. Everything is convenient and unexpectedly mild - without the characteristic sports clapping, “male” efforts on the governing bodies. I wonder if impressions will change in the future?
Allowing the instructor nod, differential control - on the "machine", and the Impreza breaks down. Eh, still could not resist, gazanul heartily. STI immediately turned into a fast, superbly controlled projectile. Only the buzzer and the red light, which requires immediate switching, cools. In the first turn I “miss” on braking. “Impreza”, delicately chirping ABS, returns to a given path, forcing to believe in its exceptional abilities. Full throttle, along with it a smooth and perfectly controlled skid of the rear axle, and we are again on a straight line. Not bad! Then it dawns on me that the instructor, carried away, tells where it is better to start to slow down, how to choose the right path. Sang.
In the next bend I drop in bolder. The result is a demolition of the front axle, which the car gently copes with. Immediately, the “navigator” prompts: smoothly work with gas.
Of course, not everything is perfect in this car either. Perhaps it is on this route that he “annoys” by sliding the front axle at the entrance to the turn. Well, this is a four-wheel drive: you must first "run" it into a turn, and then enjoy the control process. Nevertheless, we must pay tribute - "Impreza STI" forgives a lot, captivates with understandability of reactions. And most importantly, it allows you to go fast.
FIVE HORSES IN PLUS
Of course, in comparison with the high-tech STI, the “regular” Impreza WRX doesn’t look so combat. Under the hood of all (!) 230 "horses". In the usual five-speed transmission, the viscous coupling, time-tested in the central differential mechanism, is time-tested. A larger volume of the new motor affected the torque: plus 20 N.m and a shift towards low revs. It is interesting that by dividing the “Impreza” by status, the creators here also retained a sporting spirit: WRX is a combination in which one's “I” is not erased when traveling to work or shopping. We'll see!
Everything is a little easier. Luminescent scales gave way to the more familiar. Not so impulsive is the nature of the motor. Although, having sat a bit to the Impreza WRX, I feel that I like solid and at the same time quite comfortable pendants. That she behaves calmer on the road, but you get no less pleasure from balanced handling. And the engine demonstrates a fighting, without any discounts, character. It has slightly less explosive energy, but more than "instant" enthusiasm, already noticeable at 2500 rpm. And if you press the gas from the heart, this wagon turns into a bunch of energy.
The coming year: well, it’s too early to make forecasts about the World Rally Championship. The rest of the "components" of our program can be found in the salons of official dealers. Updated "Impreza" WRX and WRX STI - already on sale. Prices range from $ 39, 140 and $ 50, 910, respectively. I am sure that success is not far off, because there are enough tasters of real drive in Russia.