Mod My Car: Shopping for a niche 15-year old car - My Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Owner Review · Jul 21, 2020 08:00 PM

** This article is the personal experience of a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI owner and does not necessarily reflect the views of WapCar.

Timothy Tam


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I first fell in love with JDMs back in 2003, fuelled by 2 Fast 2 Furious and Need For Speed: Underground. I used to spend hours on end customizing my cars on NFS:U and always wanted to own one of them one day, with the Skyline R34, Evo and Impreza being my favourites. Fast forward 15 years later, I finally decided that I had to fulfil that childhood dream and started shopping around. With prices of the R34 skyrocketing, I was limited to just the Evo and Impreza and eventually settled on the Impreza WRX STI Version 9, mostly because I was a big fan of the body shape and boxer engine.

Shopping for a niche 15-year old car wasn’t easy. I spent 2 years looking but most were in questionable shape with minimal recorded history and I almost resigned to the fact that I might never get one. The right one finally came along last year when I found one that was owned and meticulously maintained by a famous Subaru specialist workshop owner/mechanic and had complete service and import records all the way back from when it was brought into Malaysia in 2007. After taking it for a test drive up to Gohtong Jaya, I knew this was the one and bought it straight away.

It’s been about a year since I’ve owned it and it has everything I’ve wanted in my first “performance” car. The all-wheel-drive matched with 280hp feels just nice, enough power to get you moving quickly, but not too much that you easily end up in a wall or tree. The turbo lag is also hilariously addictive. You don’t feel much under 4,000rpm but once you pass that, the turbo really kicks in and you’re smacked into the seat.

This was also the first manual car I owned and probably not the best car to learn on, but I eventually got the hang of it and there are very few things in the world that feel as satisfying as executing a perfect, heel-toe downshift, which the pedals have the perfect spacing for. By today’s standards, it’s not the fastest car out there, but it is definitely one of the most engaging – hearing the turbo spool up and exhaust screaming all the way up to 8,000rpm while shifting your own gears with a proper manual short-shifter never gets old.

I’ve also taken the STI onto the Sepang Circuit a couple of times and am always amazed by the lateral grip and how fast you can take it through the turns. The stock 4-pot front/2-pot rear Brembos hold up pretty well too and I haven’t experienced any brake fade, despite the repeated 200-60km/h braking for Turn 15 and Turn 1. It’s also on the track where it’s very clear that the car’s capabilities far outweigh my own and it’s a great place and car to learn how to drive better.

People who know me well know that I’m always after value-for-money, and this was a big factor in finally deciding on the STI. There are very few cars under RM100k that are this fast, engaging and easy to drive, yet still relatively reliable and don’t cost an arm and a leg to maintain. Road tax and insurance are under RM2.5k/year and I’ve only had to replace the air-con cooling coil and intercooler spray nozzle so far, in addition to oil changes that I do every 3,000km since I track it. Market prices have been relatively stable so far too and I’d easily be able to sell it for more than what I bought it for.

Definitely hoping for this to be a keeper for many years to come. The feeling of turning the ignition key to see all the tacho, speedo and Defi meters sweep and light up, hearing the engine rumble to life and playing Snoop Dogg ft. The Doors – Riders on the Storm never fails to put a smile on my face and I’m glad to finally be able to fulfil this childhood dream.

Modifications: 

  • Tein Monoflex shocks
  • Advan Racing RS 18X9J wheels with 245/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4
  • HKS Hi-Power exhaust
  • Defi oil temperature, oil pressure and boost meters, APEXi turbo timer and M7 Japan Touch Race
  • S204 rear wing

Picture Credits: Andrian Tam

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