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Subaru's supercar-baiting Cossie

2010-05-26 07:26
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Subaru
Model Cosworth CS400
Engine 2.5l flat-four turbo
Power 290kW @ 5 750r/min
Torque 540Nm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 3.7 sec
Subaru has finally released comprehensive details and images regarding its supercar-baiting Impreza hot hatch joint venture with Cosworth, called the CS400.

The first road car to boast the hallowed Cosworth nameplate since the legendary Escort RS went out of production back in 1996, the STI CS400 is a vitally important product for both companies.

Cosworth does not wish to depreciate its standing  as one of the world’s foremost performance engineering consultancies, especially as it may go public soon, and Subaru desperately needs to shore up the STI's performance billing after retiring from WRC.

Clash of the brands?

Having a high-performance STI with Cosworth badging may sit uncomfortably with Subaru purists, who associate the greatest Scooby cars with ProDrive branding.

Why did Subaru outsource engineering of the CS400 to Cosworth instead of ProDrive? Obviously the business of retiring the WRC team (which ProDrive operated) strained relations, yet the decision favoured Cosworth primarily because of its experience tuning distressingly powerful aftermarket Imprezas for the US market.

Cosworth’s Californian division regularly boosts the venerable Scooby flat-four to outputs in excess of 400kW. When Subaru required technicians to build the ultimate showroom STI, Cosworth was the obvious choice.

Upgraded brakes and suspension, 18-inch alloys and more backroad pace than anything else.

Supercar quick

Cranking the CS400’s peak power output by 69 units to 290kW over and above the "stock" STI required some deft technical machining by Cosworth’s technicians. With some guidance from the experience of boosting the 2.5l flat-four engine Stateside, Cosworth’s Northampton headquarters oversaw an extensive strengthening of the engine’s internals.

The standard pistons and conrods were binned for items of Cosworth’s own design, forged on-site. After regrinding the bores, adding enlarged manifolds and downpipes (to reduce back pressure) Cosworth feels comfortable that the CS400 engine is equal to its exacting standards.

A new ECU units harmonises the entire conversion, which is boosted by a hybrid Garrett turbocharger (a Garrett centre unit surrounded by a jumble of other parts) to produce 290kW and 540Nm.

Courtesy of the CS400’s fabled Subaru all-wheel drive traction security, the Cosworth-badged car is claimed to be good for a 0-100km/h benchmark sprint of only 3.7 seconds, which sets it comfortably against supercars such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911 Turbo.

Keeping tabs on the epic acceleration is a 10mm wider rear track (to aid stability) and 10mm ride height reduction (courtesy of Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers) to enhance agility. Slowing down the CS400’s kinetics are AP Racing rotors measuring 355mm in diameter and actuated by six-pot callipers, boasting a unique groove pattern.

Despite the immaculate engineering with regards to the CS400’s mechanics, its styling is not quite as ornate as other legendary Subaru Impreza supercar slayers of the past, like the 22B and P1.

Look beyond the controversial hatchback configuration (lacking the "booted" WRC heritage) and you’ll notice the rear wing is similar to the stock WRX STI, with only a new mesh pattern embedded grille and Cosworth badges being the differentiating styling elements.

The CS400’s cabin is pure Impreza STI hatchback, with only some piano black finishes attempting to justify the car’s £50 000 retail.

Cabin fare is essentially stock WRX STI, with piano black surfacing replacing the silver inserts.

The start of something new?

Although the marketers say they’ll only release 75 units of the CS400, it’s hard to believe so much effort would be commensurate to such low volumes. Expect a detuned 257kW version to flesh out the range and cement the future working relationship of Subaru and Cosworth.

In a bid to ensure CS400 owners retain some semblance of residual value from their cars, Cosworth says it will not offer any of the individual performance parts for sale as accessories to current Scooby owners wishing to enhance their cars to "Cosworth" specification.

So, where does a Cosworth-fettled Impreza hatchback fit within the hierarchy of Scooby legends? Well, it’s quicker than the 22B - if not quite as dramatic looking. From Cosworth's perspective, the first roadcar to wear the company badge in nearly two decades also looks a lot less dramatic than its predecessor, the Escort.

Has Subaru finally happened upon the idea of subtle design with devilish performance? We certainly hope so. It’s long overdue.

Do you think the Cosworth CS400 is a worthy successor to the legendary 22B? Share your thoughts here...

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