Facelifted, yet true to its rally legacy. The world rally champion with better looks and reliability.
For years, the Subaru WRX STI has been a prominent fixture in the realm of sport-compact performance vehicles.
This STI, only available as a sedan, stands out as a high-velocity road car equipped with standard all-wheel drive, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 305-horsepower turbocharged flat-four engine.
Despite its heightened responsiveness and rally-inspired confidence, the STI can exhibit a rigid ride on regular roads, suffer from noticeable turbo lag in its engine, and comes with a relatively higher price tag that doesn’t offer as many modern amenities as one might expect.
In 2018, the model saw a series of updates, including a redesigned front bumper featuring adaptive LED headlights as standard, sleek 19-inch wheels with a dark finish, and enhanced Brembo brakes displaying bright yellow calipers.
The most significant mechanical change came as a fully electronic center differential, which Subaru claims has enhanced the vehicle’s handling and stability.
There have been modest improvements to the cabin, including the incorporation of higher-quality materials, added sound insulation, and a few upgraded features.
For devoted enthusiasts, Subaru also introduced a more exhilarating WRX STI Type RA variant with a touch more power and enhanced handling components, although they only produced 500 of these special models.
Besides some initial delay as the STI’s substantial turbocharger spools up, the engine’s deficiency in low-end torque results in a brief and punchy power delivery that can be awkward in city driving.
The 2.5-liter flat-four engine generates a respectable 305 horsepower at 6000 rpm, but the full 290 lb-ft of torque doesn’t kick in until a rather high 4000 rpm. It’s imperative to use the STI’s standard six-speed manual transmission to maintain robust acceleration. The more radical RA model produces 310 hp and the same 290 lb-ft of torque.
Similar to many high-performance all-wheel-drive sport compacts, the STI exhibits impressive speed and traction across a variety of surfaces, delivering its best performance when driven with enthusiasm.
However, during more relaxed cruising, it can feel rugged. The firm suspension effectively controls excessive body movement, but this comes at the cost of ride comfort. This hottest Subaru remains suitable for daily driving, particularly for passionate driving enthusiasts.
Its simplicity characterizes the interior of the WRX STI in terms of quality, layout, and features. Even with the optional Recaro seats adorned with red accents and matching seatbelts, the overall ambiance remains rather dark. While the STI may not exude luxury, it is functionally pleasing, with well-positioned controls, clear gauges, and user-friendly ergonomics.
The optional Recaro seats come at a cost, but their added supportiveness proves valuable when driving the STI aggressively, and they don’t compromise on comfort.
In terms of space, the STI offers a decent amount of room, thanks to a spacious trunk and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. However, Subaru’s competitors provide more versatile cargo solutions.
As for the infotainment system, the WRX STI comes standard with a mid-level version of Subaru’s Starlink system.
While it may not be the most advanced or high-resolution system available, it operates intuitively and offers a range of modern features, although it doesn’t include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
STI models are equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and the Limited trim level allows for further upgrades, including navigation and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.
Additionally, all STIs come with two USB ports, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth smartphone integration with access to various apps.
Source: Cars and Driver (https://www.caranddriver.com/subaru/wrx-sti-2018)