So, lucky me! I got to test drive a 2008 Subaru S-GT for 2 days a couple of weeks back and boy it was fun (and makes me want to urgently change my car to something with slightly less rigid suspension).
The S-GT is what is known as the Subaru Impreza WRX with an automatic gearbox basically, so all the power but less of the effort.
As for the looks as always with Subaru, some hate it and some love it. This time it’s reversed though, regular people love it and Subaru fans hate it. It’s much more ‘normal’ than the previous sedan models with a smoother hatchback look.
It has one problem though, which is it looks rather small in pictures. It’s certainly not in real life though It’s a formidable looking vehicle with the biggest bonnet scoop put out by Subaru so far! The whole package gives it a refined but still muscular appeal, where as the previous versions were considered by most as performance cars (hey it’s not supposed to look good too right?).
It has some nice silver 17″ rims decked out in Yokohama Advan A10 tires (205/50/R17) giving great traction especially twinned with the AWD (All Wheel Drive) system.
And of course decked out with the distinctive Subaru logo on the front.
The interior is plain and functional with a basic sound system. If you’re buying this kinda car you’re gonna fit your own phat ICE anyway. Oh the head unit can change to a myriad of colours at the touch of a button depending on your mood. The seats are comfortable and nicely shaped at the top to give you some support if you feel like a bit of hard cornering.
I love the climate control, just set your desired temperature on the right dial, set the fan to auto and it takes care of everything itself. No more twiddling with knobs while you are driving!
The driving position is very adjustable too, the seat adjusts in 3 ways (front/back, up/down and incline) and the steering wheel is adjustable in 2 ways (up/down and in/out). Even at my gargantuan size I could adjust the seat and the steering wheel in a way that made it very comfortable.
The build quality is very good as expected from Subaru, the doors are solid and the glove box is hydraulically lowered (and huge). There are plenty of compartments and storage space is ample due to the height of the car and the hatchback design.
The gearstick is comfortable, not that you use it much unless you’re in tiptronic mode. There are 3 modes for the auto (Eco, Normal and Sports) and shift all the way to the right and you’ll get tiptronic fun for those fast winding roads.
Seating for passengers in the back is comfortable, even with my seat all the way back someone can still sit behind (not a huge someone, but a small or medium sized someone).
And the drive, well that’s where the fun is. With a 2.0 Turbo pumping out 246bhp it’s quite a ride, if you hit the accelerator at the right time you can get quite a neck snap going on. It’s a JDM (Japanese Domestic Model) car so it’s electronically limited to 180km/h and it easily reaches that speed without a noticeable drop in the acceleration (not that you’d want to go much faster than that on Malaysian roads anyway).
It has excellent stopping power too with ventilated disc brakes at the front and solid discs at the back. The handling is taken care of by MacPherson Struts at the front and a Double Wishbone at the back. The suspension isn’t super hard, it takes bumps and dips in the road without any discomfort to those riding inside and you can give it a fair wallop round the corner without too much body roll. I would say it could be a little bit stiffer without sacrificing too much comfort and improve the cornering slightly.
Safety wise it’s good, the side mirrors are large and well placed and it comes fitted with 4 airbags. Rear visibility is good and front visibility isn’t hindered by the bonnet vent due to the elevated driving position.
It doesn’t have the roar you might expect from a Scooby as this is the slightly more refined version, I guess that could be easily fixed with a new manifold, custom piping and exhaust tips however. Might give you a little boost in performance too 😀 It’s almost too quiet sometimes, when I first got it I turned the ignition key again because I thought it hadn’t started yet (the engine was already running). But when you’re just chilling, cruising down the highway it’s very pleasant. Not much wind noise too, even at relatively high speeds.
To summarize, this is a good car and a very solid all rounder. The sports compact is a tough space, you have to be fast but efficient, handle well but be comfortable and not be too pricey. If you’re in the market for something like the Golf GTi or the Mini Cooper S you should give this car a try – at RM186k on the road it’s in the same kind of market space.
Did I enjoy driving it, HELL YEAH I did.
Car courtesy of Motor Image Malaysia – the official and sole distributor for Subaru vehicles.