CARS.COM — Subaru is extending the run of its current-generation WRX and WRX STI performance sedans, redesigned for 2015, with a light refresh for 2018. That means WRX fans looking for a new version based on the all-new 2017 Impreza and its new Global Platform will have to wait. Ditto for those wishing for a hatchback version to go head-to-head with the likes of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R hot hatches.
Related: 2017 Subaru Impreza: First Look
The 2018 models instead get a slightly more aggressive grille and bumper, as well as some chassis, comfort and tech upgrades. The big hood scoop remains, as does the STI’s rear wing. The 2018s will go on sale in the spring; pricing was not announced.
The tamer WRX (available in base, Premium and Limited trims) will carry over its 268-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine mated to standard six-speed manual that Subaru says has improved feel and a smoother clutch. All-wheel drive with torque vectoring is standard and a sport version of Subaru’s continuously variable automatic transmission with manual mode is optional.
The suspension has new tuning and the standard 18-inch wheels have a new look. The WRX Premium trim now offers an optional Performance Package that adds upgraded Jurid brake pads with red-painted calipers and power Recaro sport seats but deletes the moonroof to cut pounds. The wheels feature a new double-spoke design.
The WRX STI (offered in base and Limited trims) carries over its 305-hp, turbo 2.5-liter boxer four with six-speed manual. The suspension is retuned and the all-wheel-drive system now features a fully electronic center differential control as well as active torque vectoring and drive modes. The wheels grow to 19 inches and use upgraded Brembo brakes with yellow six-piston calipers in front, two-piston calipers in the rear and bigger drilled rotors. Recaro sport seats are standard on the Limited trim and optional for the base STI.
All 2018 WRX and WRX STI models have upgraded interior materials and noise-canceling features like thicker door glass, better door sealing and more insulation. The driver information display now is 5.9 inches, up from 4.3 inches, and the WRX Premium trim now gets the 7-inch multimedia display used in the WRX Limited trim and STI models.
Subaru’s EyeSight suite [MF9]of electronic safety tech, including a front collision prevention system with automatic emergency braking, continues to be available as an option for the WRX’s Limited trim; it also now includes an automatic hold function when the car is stopped in traffic as well as on hills. The WRX Limited and both STI trims have steering-responsive LED headlights.
While there is no hatchback, WRX and STI models now get standard roof-rack mounting brackets to help haul the gear that can’t be handled by the trunk and folding rear seatback.