An Owners Perspective - My Catalunya

Catalunya scoop
Scoop! Steve buys Catalunya

As mentioned elsewhere in these pages Impreza Turbos, especially the 4 door models are extremely difficult to come by in the UK. I was lucky enough to order mine at the right time to have the chance of obtaining one of these exclusive Catalunyas. Not bad really. A limited edition of what effectively is a very limited car availability wise!

Catalunya in a field
Catalunya in a field near you (well Silverstone actually)

At the end of September I decided I wanted an Impreza. A day of test driving a BMW 328i in the morning and a Prodrived 1996 model against a standard 1996 model convinced me that I really wanted an Impreza. I was all ready to buy the Prodrived car (much to the annoyance of the friend I had taken along who had taken a shining to it) but to their credit the dealer pointed out that in a few weeks time a very much revised model would be available. So off to the Motorshow at the NEC the following week we went to view what would turn out to be the MY97 facelift model. I was convinced.

Unfortunately my local dealer had a waiting list well into 1997 and I was looking at a 4 month wait so I rang around and eventually ordered a red car for January 2nd 1997 from one of the biggest dealers in the country. I was kept up to date on the delivery, up to the weeks leading to Christmas. Then Christmas Eve I was told that they had been let down on a number of deliveries and my car had not arrived in this batch, and they recommended that I try going back to my local dealer! WHAT?!..and this was after taking 500 deposit too (which I finally received back in February).

I quickly went back to my local dealers with my sob story and to give them credit they were extremely helpful, but lead times were now even worse and the February shipment was sold and the next due was March. I quickly ordered my car and by now Mica Blue had been anounced and I just had to go for it. Into February itself rumours and then confirmation of a limited special edition in black mica was announced. Called the Catalunya it was in celebration of the win the previous year by McRae on the Catalunian rally. I was allowed to put my name forward for this car if I wished and the dealer would take the blue for their own demonstrator.

Catalunya badge

So finally after nearly a 6 month wait I received MY very own Impreza. Catalunya number 73 arrived one week in April. The wait was well worth it, and the dark blue mica has yet to be delivered (difficult as they were withdrawn after only 3 months). In fact it turned into a silver which the dealer put out as a demonstrator...and a few months later my friend bought it! I have to say thank you to Quenbys of Baldock who put up with me phoning them up almost weekly for updates and for taking me back after I went for the quicker deal elsewhere.

Catalunya front view

Options taken on the car over and above the Catalunya specification was limited to a Thatcham Category 1 alarm system, side rubber body rubbing protection strip, Scotch Guard interior material protection and a Jewel Ultra exterior body protection coating. The side protection strip is only available in black but on the Cat it does not look out of place at all. The protective coatings were added for extra protection and the exterior protective coating does aid washing the car and bird lime just rinses off. I'm not sure of the claims though on extra chip resistance as I do have a few on the bonnet after 12,000 or so miles.

Catalunya rear view

I was a bit unsure about the red/black interior but now being a proud owner of the Cat I think it is a lot better than the grey/dark grey of the standard cars. The lumbar support is too low in my mind but I think it is moulding itself to my back (or my spine is being deformed....).

Red/black seats!

Some days I am fine, yet there are some that after 5 minutes of driving my back is really aching. With the lumbar support too low it actually pushes the base of your spine forwards, and where you need the support is now floating in mid air! The carbon fibre dash is smart but the full interior effect is let down by a real tacky "bottle top" plaque!

Carbon fibre dash

The standard gold wheels seemed to be the talking point of the car which goes along the lines of..."Nice car Steve...GOLD WHEELS?" The originals are a bit bright and are in fact only the standard ones spray painted gold. A bit tacky really and I have now replaced them with gold Speedline Supertorismo 6 spoke 17 inch alloys. I debated whether gold or silver but in the three months I waited for the wheels I had got used to seeing the black and gold.

Catalunya side view
Standard Catalunya 15" gold alloys (same as the Impreza Sport alloys just painted gold)

Catalunya 3/4 view with 17in Supertourismo
Speedline Supertorismo 17" 6 spoke alloys

The wheels make a real improvement with stability. You can see their immediate effect when you shut the door. With the 15" the body rocks two or three times before damping down yet on the 17" it just goes ro...nothing. I had a few problems with the tyres as supplied as the set of Pirellis were not a matched set with one from a totally different country of manufacture. Once sorted the car has been a dream. A friend who owns a turbo on standard 15" recons it is quieter if anything on the 17" than his on the 15" higher profile. The only problem is the Pirelli P Zero tend to track and follow any irregularities in the road surface, but it isn't too bad once you know.

Catalunya 17in alloys and Cibies
17" Supertorismo

I initially had a problem with getting a matched set of Pirellis. On three of the wheels I had Italian made Pirellis, on the fourth at the front a British made tyre. Under power the car veered towards to UK manufactured tyre. Weird! Putting it on the rear made the handling out of corners real squirmy. On testing the car my dealer immediately replaced the defective item. Although a strange incident, it has not been the only one and the dealer has experienced the same effect at least twice since supplying my wheels. In fact Lotus have put out a product advisory bulleting with regards to using Pirelli P Zero on the Elise, and ensuring that the set of tires come from the same country of manufacture.

One of the main problems with the Impreza is that it is very rapid, and at night you find that its standard lighting is not just up to the performance. I have uprated the standard H4 halogen bulbs to the newer Xenon halogen type which are claimed to be 30% brighter for the same power dissipation. You have to watch what bulbs you use as the Impreza has plastic reflectors and relatively thin wiring so 100W plus bulbs are not recommended. Another thing that is worth thinking of is a set of plastic headlamp protectors. For just over 30 a pair they are considerably cheaper than a new headlamp should a stone fly in their general direction.

Cibies
Cibie Oscar Plus driving lamp conversion (from Scoobysport) plus note the headlight protectors

The next step has been to replace the fog lights with Cibie Oscar Plus driving lights. These are wired to come on in parallel with the high beam and its just like driving in daylight! For a Cibie kit refer to Scoobysport

Catalunya 17
Cibie Oscar Plus 130W x 2 ! (from Scoobysport) + two 65W high beams (running 30% brighter bulbs) gives 429W ! Pass the sunglasses ;-)

Catalunya front view 

There is still that wide grin factor every time I drive the car. It even got me a free lunch when a visiting sales rep saw it and said we could go anywhere as long as it was in my car!

Cibies

It can't be that purrrr-fect can it? How much has it cost so far I can hear you ask?

Item Cost
First service (1,000 mile) 33.45
7,500 6 month service 76.67
15,000 mile 12 month service
incl. anti perforation treatment
208.97
22,500 mile 18 month service
incl. FIXING MY RATTLE! (free of charge)
83.92
30,000 mile 24 month service
incl. Ram Air Filter (instead of standard)
and 1hour labour for adjusting camber and tow in.
420.34
37,500 mile 30 month service. 82.06
Side body moulding kit 43.42
Speedline 17" Supertorismo Gold incl. Pirelli P-Zero 1410.00
Scoobysport driving lights 200.00
Replacement Cibie lens 45.00
Plastic headlamp covers 32.00
Scoobysport driving light covers (clear) 24.00
Xenon plus bulbs 15.00
Xenon plus bulbs (replacements) 12.00
H2 130W bulb for Cibie 5.00
H2 130W bulb for Cibie 5.00
Drivers side door mirror glass 18.02
MOT - she passed! 35.00
   

I have been comparing different brands of fuel in the Cat, and also comparing standard unleaded (95RON) with super (98RON) but its pretty inconclusive. The car definitely performs better at lower rpm with the super and pulls from 2000rpm like it pulls from 3000rpm on standard, and similarly 3000rpm and 4000rpm respectively. Above this point it becomes rather subjective and very difficult to notice any difference. From the following table there is only a slight marginal improvement in fuel economy. MPG table

A cracked Cibie needed replacing in May 98.

One night I blew both Xenon bulbs on the low beam. They just went! From members on the IWOC list there might have been a bad batch due to the amount blowing all seemingly obtained from Halfords. Replacements via an IWOC member have worked faultlessly.

Catalunya 17in alloys and Cibies
17" Supertorismo

DISASTER in July 98! Picked up a tack in the middle of the nearside tyre. It was repairable but tack it was not....a 40mm long wood screw! Luckily it had not come into contact with the alloy, as it has been known for the end to wear through the relatively softer material.

Bulbs again when I was trying to impress coming into the car park at work, and was told I had a Cibie out. I had been driving around with only one driving light and not realised (they are very bright ;-) Putting in a good bulb it was daylight again!

Catalunya

The service at 18 months (20815 miles) gave no surprises, except for the fact that they managed to cure the rattle! It turned out to be a bracket on part of the parcel shelf which was slightly malformed. This resulted in it rubbing against the trim. By the time the service had come round, the rattle had in fact degenerated into a squeak!

Catalunya

At the Donington track day I bought some clear protective covers from Scoobysport for their Cibies driving lights. Aparently they can deflect an air gun pellet!

The service at 24 months (27644 miles) was very expensive partly due to a few extras I had done but even so it would have been over 300. The standard 24 month/30000 mile service is 3.5 hours long but I also requested that the camber and tow in was set up to those recommended by Prodrive which added an hour. As well as this I opted for a Ram Air Filter (oil filled foam pad) instead of the standard paper element.

 

  Front Rear
Camber Max equal negative not adjustable
Toe-in 1mm 1mm

Nothing really to report at the 30 month service apart from a blown bulb in one of the Cibies, the same one as last time. A new bulb was sourced from Scoobysport (dealer not stocking H2 fitment). Not really a 37,500 service as I've only done 32,887 miles, the next service will be 36 months but shouldn't include the stuff included for the 45,000 mile such as cam belt change.

January 2000, some low life caught my drivers side door mirror breaking it and showering the car in a snow storm of silvered glass. Luckily not much damage to the casing itself. The local Halfords did not stock or have a part number for an Impreza and would have to order one specially but was unsure if they had the pattern (and as it was Saturday could not find out until Monday), so for convenience I ordered one from my Subaru dealer. Slight panic on receiving it and getting home when it did not fit and seemed too big! Luckily before I rang them back (at 10pm at night??) I noticed the recess had a substantial retaining lip to get past first. This was not made that easy as the mirror holder had to be fitted into the wing mirror casing first (the mounting screw is fitted behind the mirror itself DUH!).

April 2000 - Happy 3rd Birthday! A bit apprehensive as we book our first MOT. Would Catalunya no.73 pass? Of course she did :-) The guys at the MOT test station wanted to keep her though and said I could not take the car away because they had condemned it! So how green is a 3 year old Impreza? The following table gives the MOT exhaust emission readings for my car on the day of the test

  Specification Measured
Oil Temp degC 80 min 80
Fast idle rpm 2500-3000 2609
Fast idle CO vol% 0.00-0.30 0.00
Fast idle HC vol ppm 0-200 5
Lambda 0.970-1.030 1.005
Natural idle rpm 750-1050 787
Idle CO vol% 0.00-0.50 0.00

What's next on the wish list of upgrades? I was concidering all the cool things from Scoobysport such as their their Ledar kit or a trip to Prodrive for the Eibach and Bilstein kit. The brakes would also be upgraded with Brembo items, again from Scoobysport, and whilst I'm there why not one of their wonderful sounding exhausts?

Catalunya

...but then last August I heard rumours and phoned my dealer and put my name down for the yet to be named official UK-STi. So on the 27th of May 2000, I drove my Catalunya out of the garage for the last time (sniff), and drove over to the dealers and picked up a shiny new P1. The story continues on my P1 page.



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