By Mike Hanley on January 14, 2014
Competes with: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Looks like: Subaru showed a lot of restraint (apart from the rear wing) when styling the STI
Drivetrain: 305-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder with six-speed manual transmission; all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: 2014
The high-performance Subaru WRX STI is now based on the latest version of the Impreza sedan and gets aggressive styling cues that are in line with the recently launched WRX. The STI still uses a 305-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and Subaru is building 1,000 Launch Edition models that are painted blue and have gold BBS wheels — both STI hallmarks.
The STI's aggressive styling has always separated it from the regular WRX, but that's less the case with the 2015 versions of the cars, which have similar front and rear styling, fender flares and tailpipe treatments. The STI's functional hood scoop channels air to the engine intercooler and Subaru says the scoop is set lower for better visibility. The STI's signature design cue — its giant rear wing — is in full effect and is the easiest way to tell an STI from a regular WRX.
Standard cast alloy wheels measure 18 inches in diameter, are 8.5 inches wide and wear summer performance tires. The Launch Edition’s gold BBS wheels are forged alloy. Additional standard features include LED low-beam headlights, LED taillights, heated side mirrors and fog lights.
Subaru says the STI has a roomier cabin, upgraded materials and new technology. The dashboard is lower, and the front roof pillars are narrower and have been moved forward for better visibility. Soft-touch materials are on the dashboard, doors and center console armrest. Alcantara simulated suede sport seats with black and red leather bolsters are standard with full-leather upholstery available. Launch Edition models get Alcantara seats with black and blue leather bolsters. Backseat passengers have about 2 inches more legroom over the previous STI.
Standard features include heated front seats, cruise control, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a flat-bottom leather steering wheel, a 60/40- split folding backseat and aluminum pedal covers. The CD stereo has Bluetooth streaming audio, iPod connectivity and an MP3 jack. A Harman Kardon premium stereo, a navigation system with Aha-based smartphone integration and a text messaging feature are available.
The new STI uses the same turbocharged horizontally opposed four-cylinder as the prior model. It makes 305 hp at 6,000 rpm and 290 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. It's an all-aluminum engine with variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust valves, and maximum boost pressure is 14.7 psi. Premium gas is required, and the STI is rated at 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined.
The only transmission offered is a six-speed manual; Launch Edition versions get a short-throw shifter. The standard all-wheel-drive system has limited-slip front, center and rear differentials and includes three performance modes, driver-selectable differential locking and torque vectoring. The torque vectoring system can brake the inside front wheel in corners for more neutral handling.
The sport-tuned suspension uses front struts and a double-wishbone design in the rear and has front and rear stabilizer bars. The Brembo-brand braking system features front and rear ventilated disc brakes with four-piston fixed calipers in front and two-piston fixed calipers in back. The regular WRX has electrically assisted power steering, but the STI has a quick-ratio hydraulic rack-and-pinion system.
Standard features include antilock brakes, active front head restraints, a backup camera and an electronic stability system with driver-selectable intervention levels.
Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike