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22 December 2010 09:00
Two famous names in motoring meet to create this car: Subaru Impreza and Cosworth. It should be a match made in heaven, but we're going to give the game away early. It's not.
We declined early drives in the Subaru Impreza Cosworth STI CS400, as they were pre-production prototypes, and the first reviews were lukewarm. Or maybe that should be scorching hot (the test cars overheated). But the car they delivered to our Performance Car Of The Year 2010 challenge was a fully fettled, ready-to-go customer-spec car.
Take one regular Scooby, mix in the STI spec and take it to fabled tuners Cosworth. The result is a 395bhp 4wd super-hatch that looks damn tempting on paper. As well as that badge-giveaway 400ps, you get 400lb ft and a tweaked-up chassis.
Just 75 Scooby Cosworths will be built for the UK market. The 2.5-litre boxer four has been tuned to produce 33% more power. Cosworth removes the engine from the STI, fettles the turbo, fits new pistons, forged conrods and a higher-pressure oil pump. Also tweaked are the exhaust, suspension, brakes and wheels.
Subaru says the regular six-speed manual 'has carbon syncromesh applied to the top three ratios' to handle the extra thrust. An upgraded single-plate clutch is fitted too, while the 4wd system retains a 50:50 split.
Suspension is upgraded with new Eibach coil springs and Bilstein dampers, dropping the ride height by 15mm at the front. Cosworth-commissioned AP brakes are fitted at the front, while the STI's rear discs and ABS are carried over.
We expect great things from the Impreza. Subaru quotes 0-62mph in a faintly ridiculous 3.7sec and truth is, it doesn't feel anywhere near as fast. We didn't time it, but would put the acceleration at nearer five-point-something.
Part of the problem is the mother of all turbolag. Pin the throttle and unless the engine's spinning at around 3500rpm, nothing happens. There's a slow build-up and then, suddenly, your ears are full of whistles and whooshes and the Cossie leaps forward like a scalded pet, the quad exhausts belching smoke. It's all very 1980s.
The drivetrain feels agricultural, too. There's a degree of shunt at low speeds and it's difficult to feather the clutch to drive smoothly around town. That gearshift feels built to work on a combine harvester: it's heavy and reluctant, with an unsatisfying action. The brakes aren't much better, with poor feel and after a week in France, they're juddering.
At least the Subaru Impreza Cosworth STI CS400 rides well. There's a pillowy absorption to the way it handles bumps and lumps, and it in fact made a good autoroute companion. Therein lies the irony: the Scooby should shine on the twisty mountain roads, but it doesn't; it's more at home at an M-way cruise, where the monumental lag and stiff gearchange are less of a hindrance.
It's thirsty, too. We averaged 17mpg during our week with the car.
The interior is disappointingly boggo, which means a plasticky, but no-nonsense cabin with the tinniest-sounding doors this side of a Matchbox model. On the one hand, I approve of Subaru's unpretentious dashboards - they're easy to use and feel built to last. But when you spend £50k, I expect more.
The seats are too flat and left us lurching around as the Cossie was flung around the mountainous roads around Provence. The pews fitted to the regular 2011 STI are far better.
But on the flip side, the Impreza is a practical five-door hatchback. Subaru may be returning to the four-door notchback layout, but there's a certain Euro-spec usefulness to the existing Impreza.
One example of the patchy quality evident in the Impreza Cosworth is the alarm. Why Subaru UK persists with the shabbiest sort of aftermarket alarm system we used to see in the 1980s is anyone's guess. It doesn't work. We must have woken dozens of paysans in our French PCOTY adventure, the alarm going off nearly every time we unlocked the car. And yes, we did follow the correct procedure. This is no one-off. Just watch other Scooby drivers unlock their cars at the petrol station.
The Subaru Impreza Cosworth STI CS400 disappointed us. We took it along to PCOTY as a wildcard entry, based purely on its latent potential. It competed in esteemed company, and perhaps that coloured our view of it.
But far from lurking in the shadows of the Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamboexotica, the humble £24k Renaultsport Megane Cup showed us everything the Cossie wasn't. It was a wholesome reminder that you can get twice as much fun in a hot hatchback for half the price.
Sadly, the promise of the Scooby Cossie is miles from the reality.
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Subaru Impreza Cosworth STI CS400 (2010) CAR review
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Re: Subaru Impreza STI CS400 (2010) CAR review
I think the Japanese have got it right the the R205 which is a few k more then a 330s and 10k cheaper than the CS400 ,but out performes both cars by far!!!
28 March 2011 18:57
RE: Subaru Impreza Cosworth STI CS400 (2010) CAR review
I don't think this article (or most of the comments) are particularly accurate. I own/have owned a number of performance cars including Ferrari 355, 360, Porsche C4S, Aston DB9, DBS, M3 as well as various Imprezas including first, second and third generation cars. I also now own a Cosworth Impreza. This is absolutely the best one I have ever owned and can still be enjoyed in Autumn/Winter when the much more expensive stuff has to stay in the garage. The Cosworth is not really a track car and blends a genuinely comfortable ride with real grip when pushing on - great for terrible British roads that the exotic stuff hates. The steering is a bit inert, as with most Imprezas, but the turbo lag does not turn out to be a negative issue - at lower engine speeds (around town) less power makes the car more manageable because when you're pushing on, at higher engine speeds, the performance is completely incredible. Believe what you like, but this is a great car.
26 January 2011 12:57
I might also add that Evo independently timed a 330S/PPP model as a 0-60 of 4.4secs. 3.7 seems overly optimistic as most of the supposed 330bhp models actually dyno nearer 345-350bhp, but over 5 seems equally unlikely. The CS400 is an engine with, frankly, ludicrous turbo lag though, and the standard car is hardly perfect in that regard.
29 December 2010 23:53
The problem seems to stem from them going after the 400bhp figure to match Mitsubishi's FQ400. Unfortunately, the 2.5 litre engine requires a complete overhaul and forged pistons to get that power reliably (and not all that reliably if Subaru's reduce warranty on the CS400 is to be believed) and that's where almost all the money went. The chassis is near standard and the seats are actually worse than the Recaros of the 330S. The CS400 also does without that cars standard sat nav as well. Had Subaru been sensible and spent the money on the chassis and a lower headline figure, they'd have a far better, cheaper car. Litchfield have done wonders with their £38k Type 20 which defecates on the Cosworth from a very great height. I'll stick with my 330S with Prodrive suspension options which I paid just over half as much as the CS400 for last year. This car is a complete waste of an opportunity.
28 December 2010 20:28
@engineer - that will be yes and no.
YES its a joke!
No They're not joking....
@engineer - that will be yes and no.
YES its a joke!
No They're not joking....
22 December 2010 14:21
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