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Rallying round in style.

BLUE FLIER... the limited-edition Subaru Impreza RB5 - if you want to surprise a Honda Fireblade, this is the car to do it!

MOTORSPORT fans just love the Scooby Do Impreza.

Not only has it proved a winner on the rally stages, it has also won the hearts of drivers who enjoy driving.

And to give ordinary motorists a taste of what it's like to pilot a rally car, Subaru has produced a series of special-edition turbo models including the Catalunya, Series McRae and now the RB5. The initials are those of top British rally driver Richard Burns, who has been flying round the world's rally stages in an Impreza.

This model really looks the business with its titanium-coloured, six-spoke, alloy wheels and Blue Steel metallic paintwork and it doesn't disappoint. Just listening to the burbling engine is enough to bring a smile to your face.

Stunning, knee-wobbling performance is promised by the 236bhp, two-litre, turbo-charged engine which rockets this very special Impreza from standing to 60mph in 5.2 seconds and onwards to a potential 145mph.

Only a very few, very light, very powerful cars can accelerate that quickly. If you want to surprise a Honda Fireblade, this is the car to do it.

The power, which has been boosted by rally car specialists Prodrive, is awesome. The same attention has been paid to the handling and suspension and the four-wheel-drive RB5 enjoys limpet-like road adhesion.

Steering is instantly directional and the brakes bring this mighty Impreza to a swift, stable and drama-free halt.

Gear changes on the five-speed manual box are speeded up by the use of a stubby, short-throw lever.

Blue, part-leather suede-effect trim brightens up the interior. Sports-type seats provide all the support you need and this special version is marked by a plaque next to the gearbox which proclaims that the RB5 I was driving was number four in the limited run.

This Impreza provides the best of both worlds by being both a super-high-performance vehicle with the room and storage space of a medium-sized family car.

Twin airbags, four-channel anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, power steering, a Momo leather-covered three-spoke steering wheel and a huge rear spoiler are all standard on this blue flier.

Now for the bad news. You can't have one. The limited edition of 444 have all been sold.

Anyway, the rear spoiler disrupts vision so you'll have to make do with the ordinary Impreza Turbo. Keep a lookout in the used car ads - or wait for the next super, special-edition model.

Subaru 4x4 RB5

Model: Subaru Impreza RB5, pounds 27,545 (sold out).

Engine: four-cylinder, 16-valve turbo-charged engine of 1,994cc, developing 236bhp at 6,000rpm and 258lb ft of torque at 3,500rpm.

Transmission: four-wheel drive through five-speed gearbox.

Brakes: ventilated front and rear discs with four-sensor, four-channel ABS.

Performance: maximum speed 145mph; 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds.

Economy: 20.6mpg on the urban cycle; 35.3mpg extra urban; 28.0mpg combined. Test average 26.4mpg.

Warranty: three years/60,000 miles; one-year paintwork; six-year anti-corrosion and three-year Subaru roadside assistance.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 16, 2000
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