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Niu's on Silom

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Land Rover
Test Drives
17 Apr 09 17:10
A Japanese Pocket Rocket
John K. Lindgren
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       In the field of astronomy Subaru is the Japanese name of the Pleiades an open star cluster in the constellation of Taurus which is among the nearest to our mother earth.

       In popular Asian music Subaru is the name of a romantic 70s hit by composed and sung by Sjinji Tanimura.

       In the world of niche sport sedans there is another Subaru lovingly known as 'Scooby' the Japanese high performance driving machine, a niche brand, a 'boy racer'known for their use of the unique flat boxer engine concept and a full-time AWD (all wheel drive).

       As well as their turbocharged performance sport sedans such as the Subaru Impreza WRX with a respected World Rally Championship winning reputation for more than a decade.


Subaru Thailand
       In Thailand the Subaru car brand is officially represented by Motor Image Co., Ltd. importing four models: the Impreza, the Legacy, the Forester, the Outback and fastest and meanest of the all WRX STi. Subaru Motor Image new showroom is located in the Serithai area near NIDA (National Institute of Development Administration). The showroom and service center is a state-of-the-art piece of automotive architecture. A Japanese car showroom version of the Bedsupper Club, spacecraft on Sukhumvit soi 11.
       Subaru is a a niche, a connoisseurs brand in Thailand, but not in Japan where the brand is big and spends mega budgets are on star studded TV advertising. The Hollywood actor Bruce Willis, the sexy Latino "Jay-Lo" Jennifer Lopez as well as the Scottish rock singer Rod Stewart have appeared in the Japanese Subaru Legacy TV commercials.

       The Subaru Impreza 2.0R test vehicle provided for CarSanook.com was the new four-door salon in sparkling "steel silver metallic paint". The styling, the design of the new Subaru Impreza is so restrained it's almost but not quite ordinary. The Impreza looks like a rather utilitarian four-door Asian compact hatch back. However, on closer inspection some design features stand out like those double triangular brake light clusters in the back. The roof spoiler could be the only indication that is no ordinary "9-5" or "home to office and back" tammada saloon.


       The interior is top quality. The deeply-contoured Recaro style sport seats in charcoal leather will hold the driver and passenger in place against G-forces. The dash board design is clean and functional with all controls, gauges and meters in circular design and easily read. A driver's car with wit a tad of aircraft cockpit ambiance. Although there are headrests for three in the back seat, only two should attempt to sit back. If you try you'll notice the center position is tight. Not recommend for longer journeys. When stuck in a mother-of-all-traffic jams on Sukhumvit/ Asoke intersection on a rainy Friday night at end of the month - entertainment, info-tainment is needed for the driver and the passengers.

       Legacys in-car entertainment comes with a super premium McIntosh stereophonic built-in sound system and six-disc CD changer/radio/MP3 audio system with concert hall surround sound quality. And the open road we strongly recommend Deep Purple's Highway Star or La Primavera; Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.


Boxer Engine
       In the engine bay of the Impreza sits a horizontally-opposed flat 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual transmission. The Subaru boxer engine generates 150 bhp - making it one of the most powerful non-turbo 2,000 cc motors.
       "Scooby's" legendary road holding originates from Subaru�s research and development on the global rally circuit which has resulted in the Subaru Symmetrical AWD (All Wheel Drive) � a unique propulsion feature.

       Crashworthiness is further enhanced by crush zones and the way the engine and transmission units are designed to slide under the passenger compartment in a severe collision. All Impreza models now have front, side and curtain air bags. Furthermore, the Impreza, like all Subaru�s, uses a ring-frame reinforced structure that surrounds the passenger compartment with concentric rings to absorb impacts from various directions. Driving impressions. On the Bagna-Trat elevated expressway we reached the top speed, 214 clicks on the clock and hit the 100 km/h mark from standstill in 9.1 seconds!

On the road
       The rest of the test drive around Bangkok; Sukhumvit-Thongloor and Viphavadee Rangsit road was pure unadulterated motoring fun. Tight u-turns and swift lane switching. The balance and stability provided by the rally-bred combination of the "Subie" boxer engine and the symmetrical AWD system is amazing. The the AWD all-wheel-drive system ensures grip and roadholding even during quick direction changes. How many four-door 2.000 cc sedans are this fun to drive? Acceleration, traction, brakes, the AWD and the low center of gravity providing fantastic road holding and a unique sweet engine sound, too.

       Next time you're close to a Stuttgart built ueber expensive Porsche listen to the tone of the boxer engine. The Porsche and the Subaru are the only brands today using the flat horizontally opposed boxer engine technology. Last but not least Subie's fuel consumption? Subaru claims 10-11 km/liter in the city and 13 km/liter highway mode. So will the Subaru Impreza 2.0R break the bank? It�s not exactly cheap but for 1,345 million THB you'll get a mean AWD driving machine. A hot hatch.

Subaru - a Japanese wolf in sheep's clothing.

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