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Portfolio of Performance: Checking out the past speedy Subarus – Driving

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With no new STI in sight, we look back through the automaker’s speediest and coolest rides

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There’s no doubt that Subaru has earned a reputation over the years among those seeking all-wheel-drive performance, which is why enthusiasts all around the world gasped in disbelief when the automaker announced the next-generation WRX STI will be placed on hold.

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Between its US and Japanese factory-backed teams in the World Rally Championship, Rally America, Canadian Rally, Rallycross, and SuperGT, the automaker has well over 100 podiums to its name.

It’s that success that’s bred a ton of cool performance cars over the years. While other automakers deliver sleek, low-slung sports cars that can cut through a circuit with ease, Subaru seems unwilling to compromise on its proven formula of success. As a result, many of their coolest cars are closer to road-ready rally cars than anything else, designed and engineered while demystifying a tricky off-road stage in the middle of a forest.

Hopefully you’re already well-acquainted with the Impreza compact car, as that sets the foundation for a number of these speed machines. But don’t forget the Subaru Legacy and even the Forester, which had their own special hair-raising models. Let’s run through the list and you can spot any similarities.

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1989 Subaru Legacy RS Turbo

The 1989 Legacy RS Turbo earned an endurance land speed record
The 1989 Legacy RS Turbo earned an endurance land speed record Photo by Subaru

Based on: 1989 Subaru Legacy
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? Yes
Why is this on the list? A land speed endurance record and a cool nickname in Europe

Back in 1989, Subaru was just finding its all-wheel-drive traction to success in North America. While it offered all-wheel-drive, the automaker pushed the envelope to prove it had the goods to compete on a global scale. The Legacy RS used a turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 217 horsepower, along with four powered wheels. Subaru brought three of these cars to the FIA test track in Phoenix, Arizona, and spun them around the track at an average speed of 223.4 km/h over roughly 19 days, adding up to 100,000 kilometres. This stunt earned Subaru a new world record for land speed endurance. Subaru earned a few fans that day, but perhaps the most telling legend of the Legacy RS Turbo is that it was dubbed the Lunacy by the Europeans. Think about all the epic names in automotive history: Godzilla, Rambo Lambo, the Goat, Screaming Chicken… I petition we throw the Lunacy into the mix.

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2006 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT spec.B

The Spec.B says you can be fast and cool without looking like a dork
The Spec.B says you can be fast and cool without looking like a dork Photo by Subaru

Based on: 2006 Subaru Legacy
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? Yes
Why is this on the list? It had the performance of the WRX STI without the shouty looks

Let’s stick with the Legacy, as most of Subaru’s best performance cars featured four-doors, and why not talk about the bigger ones. In 2006, Subaru made 500 examples of the Legacy 2.5GT Spec.B, which used the same motor from the fan-favourite hot-hatch Subaru Impreza WRX. That means 250 horsepower, but as everybody knows power isn’t everything. It featured sporty suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential along with the brand’s SI-Drive, a feature that allowed for tighter control of the engine response.

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Subaru Forester STI

Speedy SUVs before they were cool
Speedy SUVs before they were cool Photo by By User3204 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86191689

Based on: 2003 to 2008 Subaru Forester
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? No, kinda
Why is this on the list? It was a performance-oriented crossover well before they were cool like today.

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to get their hands on a 265 horsepower, manual-transmission, practical boxy crossover like this, but that world only exists in Japan. For a short period, the Japanese automaker offered a high-performance version of its square crossover, and it was something else. Lowered, stiffer, louder, and with better braking, this could keep up with anything on the road. The North American market got something close with the Forester XT, which wasn’t as powerful, but looked just as cool as the STI. Eventually, the Forester name became known for less exciting, family-friendly crossovers, and the memories of this STI faded away.

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2018 Subaru BRZ tS

Subaru performance goes RWD
Subaru performance goes RWD Photo by Subaru

Based on: 2018 Subaru BRZ
Powered by: a naturally-aspirated boxer engine
Drive Wheels: Rear Wheels
Was there a North American Model? Yes
Why is this on the list? Subaru’s modern RWD coupe deserves some love.

The Subaru BRZ is a weird one, even today. A coupe designed by Toyota and built by Subaru, the BRZ felt out of sync with modern Subaru, which is known for its practical, boxy, family-friendly and go-anywhere kind of vehicles. Yet, the automaker flexed its engineering know-how and delivered a fun-to-drive and affordable rear-wheel-drive coupe. In 2018, Suburu expanded on it with 500 examples of the tS, which are said to be “tuned by STI,” though without forced induction as the performance arm is known to do. It features more grip with bigger tires, tuned suspension, and tweaked aerodynamics. This meant it responded quicker on the track, providing tons of confidence and speedier lap times. It’s always easy to get faster results with more power, but making it happen without engine tweaks at all showed the expertise of Subaru’s performance minds.

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2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Cosworth CS400

A 400 horsepower Impreza? Yes please!
A 400 horsepower Impreza? Yes please! Photo by Subaru UK

Based on: 2011 Subaru Impreza
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? No
Why is this on the list? Nearly 400 horsepower, under 4-second 0-100 km/h time, only 75 made.

In 2011, British tuning company Cosworth added its special flavour to the Impreza WRX STI. A pinch of extra power at the time meant that this limited-edition compact featured 395 horsepower via different pistons, new connecting rods, a redesigned head gasket, and a new turbo. That much horsepower allowed for a 0-100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds, which sounds terrifyingly awesome. Throw in the special Eibach springs, Bilstein shocks, and the adjustable rear anti-roll bar, and this Impreza could cut through the apexes on whatever track you threw it. Only 75 examples of this wild compact were made, and they were quickly gobbled up by the most dedicated enthusiasts.

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2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA
RA = Record Attempt or Really Awesome, your choice

Based on: 2018 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? Yes
Why is this on the list? Inspired by a Nurburgring record-setting lap time, track-ready performance over rally-bred.

In 2017, Subaru snagged another record by lapping the infamous Nurburgring in just 6:57.5, making it the fastest four-door to do so at the time. Granted, it wasn’t a production car that did the trick, but a tricked-out fancy race car. But Subaru was cool about it and made a production car inspired by its hero — one that could be purchased by anyone! And by anyone, we mean just 500 people, because that’s how many were made. Compared to other 2018 STIs, the Type RA featured a bit more power to go along with a revised third-gear ratio, a short-throw shifter, inverted Bilstein front struts, suspension tweaks, and a lightweight carbon-fibre roof, a huge carbon-fibre rear wing, and lighter BBS wheels. Of course, it was sweet to drive, carving through the corners of every track you could get it to. Unsurprisingly, it’s best enjoyed on the track — but that’s kind of the point of a list of the best performance cars.

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2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206

Another championship, another awesome special edition
Another championship, another awesome special edition Photo by Subaru Japan

Based on: 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? No
Why is this on the list? Inspired by a 24-hour Nurburgring Class win, another track-bred speed machine

The 2018 Type RA wasn’t the first time Subaru used its Nurburgring exploits to sell a car. Back in 2011, the automaker achieved a class win at the 24 Hours Nurburgring endurance race, which conveniently helped it promote the new S206. The Subaru S-Series was hand-built by the automaker’s Subaru Technica International performance division, and this was among its most badass models. Those with a thing for vents and scoops and carbon fibre, here you go. It rolled wicked-huge Brembo brakes (six-piston calipers up front!) to show that Subaru was paying attention to its race cars.

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2020 WRX STI S209

Just when Subaru committed to North America with the S209, it decide to hit pause.
Just when Subaru committed to North America with the S209, it decide to hit pause.

Based on: 2020 Subaru WRX STI
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? Yes
Why is this on the list? The first time Subaru brought the S-Series to North America, it was incredibly balanced between road and track performance.

Subaru finally gave the US market a taste of the special edition S-Series sauce in 2020 with the S209. It was about time! For years, North Americans caught glimpses of what Subaru was capable of through video games like Gran Turismo, but the automaker delivered the goods with another special-edition model that was as fine as could be. It’s the most powerful car the STI division has ever built, putting out 341 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. This was a track-bred beast, with a beefy rear stabilizer bar, Bilstein dampers, and an innovative two-piece strut tower bar and flexible front/rear draw stiffeners which helped the S209 deliver excellent grip, stability, and responsiveness. At this point, the fourth-generation WRX STI was feeling a bit stale, yet Subaru was able to push the limits of this vehicle to unimaginable limits on the track and street.

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1999 Subaru Impreza 22B STi

The granddaddy of STI, the 22b
The granddaddy of STI, the 22b Photo by Subaru

Based on: 1999 Subaru Impreza
Powered by: a turbocharged boxer engine
Drive Wheels: All of them
Was there a North American Model? No
Why is this on the list? Celebrated three consecutive FIA World Championship titles, with the coolest Subaru of them all.

The big daddy of Subaru’s performance is the 22b, and there are no doubts about that. Adorned with blue paint and gold wheels, the 22b featured a 2.2-litre turbocharged boxer engine that Subaru claimed had an output of just 276 horsepower, although it turned out to be much more in reality. It featured sodium-filled exhaust valves to go along with its wider track, completely revamped suspension, an adjustable rear wing, huge brakes, and fat tires. Interestingly, there are a few other similar models to the 22B, like the 2001 WRX STI P1 and the Type R STI (not to be confused with Honda’s Type R Civics), but the gist is that these models were practically supercars in compact car clothing.

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Google warns of 'hermit spyware' infecting Android and iOS devices – Mashable

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As part of Google’s efforts to track the activities of commercial spyware vendors, the company’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) released a report Thursday on spyware campaigns targeting Android and iOS users.

Google TAG researchers Benoit Sevens and Clement Lecigne go into detail about the use of entrepreneurial grade spyware dubbed “Hermit.” This sophisticated spyware tool allows attackers to steal data, private messages and make phone calls. In their report, TAG researchers attributed Hermit to RCS Labs, a commercial spyware vendor based in Italy.

Hermit poses many significant dangers. Due to its modularity, Hermit is quite customizable, allowing the functions of the spyware to be altered to the will of its user. Once fully situated on a target’s phone, attackers can harvest sensitive information such as call logs, contacts, photos, precise location, and SMS messages.

Sevens and Lecigne’s full report details the ways in which attackers can access both Android and iOS devices through the use of clever tricks and drive-by attacks. Potential targets of this scam will have their data disabled through their ISP carrier before sending a malicious link via text to get them to ‘fix’ the issue. If that doesn’t work, targets will be tricked into downloading malicious apps masqueraded as messaging applications.

Just last week, cybersecurity firm Lookout reported the use of Hermit by agents working in the governments of Kazakhstan, Syria, and Italy. Google has already identified victims in these countries, stating that “TAG is actively tracking more than 30 vendors with varying levels of sophistication and public exposure selling exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed actors.”

The Milan-based company claims to provide “law enforcement agencies worldwide with cutting-edge technological solutions and technical support in the field of lawful interception for more than twenty years.” More than 10,000 intercepted targets are purported to be handled daily in Europe alone.

When reached out for comment by The Hacker News, RCS Labs said its “core business is the design, production, and implementation of software platforms dedicated to lawful interception, forensic intelligence, and data analysis” and that it “helps law enforcement prevent and investigate serious crimes such as acts of terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, child abuse, and corruption.”

Still, the news of the spyware being used by state government agents is concerning. Not only does it erode trust in the safety of the internet but it also puts at risk the lives of anyone a government considers an enemy of the state such as dissidents, journalists, human rights workers, and opposition party politicians.

“Tackling the harmful practices of the commercial surveillance industry will require a robust, comprehensive approach that includes cooperation among threat intelligence teams, network defenders, academic researchers, governments, and technology platforms,” Google TAG researchers wrote. “We look forward to continuing our work in this space and advancing the safety and security of our users around the world.”

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iPhone, Android users ALERT! Google warns of Italian spyware out to hack your phone – HT Tech

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An Italian company’s hacking tools were used to spy on Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan, informs Google. Check details here.

In a shocking development it has been revealed that your iPhone and Android phones are at risk. As per the information a tool has been developed to spy on personal messages and contacts of the targeted devices. Alphabet Inc’s Google has said in a report that an Italian company’s hacking tools were used to spy on Apple Inc and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan. According to the report, Milan-based RCS Lab, whose website claims European law enforcement agencies as clients, developed tools to spy on private messages and contacts of the targeted devices. However, Google said it had taken steps to protect users of its Android operating system and alerted them about the spyware.

“These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house,” Google said. According to a report by Reuters, commenting on the issue, an Apple spokesperson said the company had revoked all known accounts and certificates associated with this hacking campaign. RCS Lab said its products and services comply with European rules and help law enforcement agencies investigate crimes.

Also read: Looking for a smartphone? To check mobile finder click here.

Also Read: 5 million Facebook accounts in danger! This phishing scam will steal your money- how it works

Reuters was further informed via an email, “RCS Lab personnel are not exposed, nor participate in any activities conducted by the relevant customers.” RCS Lab further said that it condemned any abuse of its products.

It can be known that the global industry making spyware for governments has been growing, with more companies developing interception tools for law enforcement. Anti-surveillance activists accuse them of aiding governments that in some cases use such tools to crack down on human rights and civil rights, said Reuters in a report.

Also Read: Google Workspace will NOT be Free anymore; here are top 5 alternatives

As per the report, the industry came under a global spotlight when the Israeli surveillance firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware was in recent years found to have been used by multiple governments to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents.

Though not as stealthy as Pegasus, RCS Lab’s tool can still be used to read messages and view passwords, said Bill Marczak, a security researcher with digital watchdog Citizen Lab. “This shows that even though these devices are ubiquitous, there’s still a long way to go in securing them against these powerful attacks,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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iQOO Neo 6 VS Poco F4: We compare the specs, both will SURPRISE – HT Tech

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iQOO Neo 6 vs Poco F4: Both these Snapdragon 870 smartphones under Rs. 30000 are tempting, but which is better?

iQOO Neo 6 or Poco F4? Of late, the smartphone space under Rs. 30000 has seen two strong offerings from these fairly young brands. iQOO, which is a subdivision of Vivo, announced the iQOO Neo 6 last month as its most affordable offering with the Snapdragon 870 chipset, promising better gaming experiences and an overall midrange collection of specifications. The iQOO Neo 6 comes with a decent set of cameras too and is currently one of the most exciting phones money can buy at this price.

However, Poco has the same idea and it manages to offer its Poco F4 at a much lower price. Launched just hours ago, the Poco F4 has almost the same kind of spec sheet as the iQOO Neo 6, save for minor differences. In essence, this is a rival to the iQOO Neo 6 and if you are wanting to spend that much money on a performance smartphone for around Rs. 30000, it does add to the confusion. After all, both look good on paper.

Since we have reviewed both of the smartphones lately, we put both of these against each other and here is what we think.

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Design

While both the smartphones have distinct designs to flaunt, it is the Poco F4 that pulls the lead with its glass rear panel. The Poco F4 feels better built, especially with its fit and finish. That’s not to say the iQOO Neo 6 is poorly built but the phone’s plastic unibody design is not as desirable. 

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Display

Honestly, both these smartphones are equal when it comes to the display specs. Both phones have a 6.67-inch FHD+ E4 AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and higher touch sample rates. No in-display fingerprint scanner on either of these.

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Performance

The same Snapdragon 870 chip powers both the Poco F4 and iQOO Neo 6. Hence, it is your pick. The Snapdragon 870 is a stable chipset that delivers high on performance, especially in terms of thermal stability and throttling. You will be able to play all the high-end games such as COD Mobile and Apex Legends Mobile at high graphics settings with ease.

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Software

This is where your preference matters. Poco uses Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 interface based on Android 12 whereas the iQOO neo 6 uses Vivo’s FunTouch OS 12 based on Android 12. Both custom skins are full of customisation features and pre-loaded apps. Both brands promise three years of OS updates.

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Cameras

Both the Poco F4 and iQOO neo 6 feature a triple camera setup on the rear – a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP macro camera. The Poco F4 has a 16MP selfie camera while the iQOO Neo 6 has a 32MP camera

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Battery

The iQOO Neo 6 on paper has a bigger 4700mAh battery compared to the 4500mAh battery on the Poco F4. The iQOO Neo 6 offers a 80W fast charging solution while the Poco F4 has a 67W fast charging. 

Poco F4 vs iQOO Neo 6 Price

This is where the Poco F4 takes a mega lead. Starting at 27,999 for the base 6GB/128GB storage, the F4 is cheaper. The 8GB/128GB variant costs Rs. 29,999 whereas the 12GB/256GB variant comes with a price of Rs. 33,999. The iQOO Neo 6 starts at Rs. 29,999 for the base variant with 8GB/128GB variant.

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