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Weidel on Wheels: Impreza WRX STI is quite impressive

By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Ever drive a small compact vehicle that’s turbocharged? If not, it’s something to consider next time you happen to be out shopping for a smaller car that delivers big-time in the performance department. And that’s exactly what one will get when driving the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Unlike the typical Subaru vehicle, this one can be super fun to drive, considering its power and its superior handling. Putting a turbocharged engine in a compact is not a new concept. Rivals such as the Mazdaspeed 3, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and Volkswagen GTI are all turbocharged. Test driven here, the WRX STI is equipped with a 2.75-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 305 horsepower. This little vehicle is quick, going 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds. Many drivers are cognizant of its speed, so beware of someone offering a challenge on the freeway or stopped at a red light. Before one heads out to buy the upgraded Impreza WRX STI, understand that it can come with a hefty price tag for a compact sport vehicle. The sticker price ranges from $33,995 to $37,345, a major jump from the $17,495 base model Impreza. If you happen to go out shopping for an Impreza, also be aware that the number of trim models is sizable, so be careful what you’re buying. The Impreza is offered as either a four-door hatchback or a four-door sedan. Trim levels include the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, Outback Sport, WRX, WRX Premium, WRX Limited, WRX STI and WRX STI Limited. And note that the Outback Sport can be purchased as a hatchback only, while the WRX STI Limited is sedan only. The STI has a few changes this year, most notably a firmer suspension calibration and improved handling thanks to lighter wheels. Naturally, the STI, like all Subaru models, comes equipped with all-wheel drive and better-than-average safety features. Despite possessing some major attributes, not all is right with the Impreza brand. The interior has some cheap plastic and the sound system should be better for the price. The interior space — head and legroom — is fine up front, but it’s merely adequate at best for back-seat occupants. Trunk space varies quite a lot from the hatchback to the sedan. While the hatchback provides spacious trunk space, the sedan does not. __________ 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Price: $33,995 to $37,345 Power: 2.75-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 305 horsepower Mileage estimate: 17 mpg city; 23 mpg highway Standard features include: Aggressively-tuned suspension; tilt-telescoping steering column; 18-inch wheels; high-performance tires; Brembo brakes; xenon headlights; sport seats and faux-suede and leather upholstery; rear spoiler; AM/FM stereo with single CD player, six speakers, Satellite radio, Bluetooth, iPod capability and auxiliary input jack; heated front seats; power moon roof; all-wheel drive; stability control