2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

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$33,995

starting MSRP

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Adjustable center differential (STI)

The bad:

  • WRX is no longer inconspicuous
  • STI sedan's giant wing spoiler
  • WRX deserves a six-speed gearbox
  • WRX and STI require premium gas

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • WRX adopts wider STI body
  • STI sedan joins hatchback
  • STI suspension revised
  • Brembo brakes (STI)
  • Standard all-wheel drive

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:


If I didn’t know better, the Subaru WRX STI might just be the silliest gas hog of a little car there is. It’s a cocky, pheromone-swilling show-off, with a hood scoop ready to inhale pigeons, a foot-tall rear wing, and all that booming, ear-splitting braaap from the four exhaust tips.

This is a car that acts like a frustrated teenage boy and is priced for a well-paid man in his 30s, albeit a single and slightly nerdy guy who likes a good deal. Because for all its tackiness — and this is after Subaru canceled the gold pimp wheels for 2011 — the man who buys a WRX STI does know better. He’s getting a street-legal race car, and all the gut-wrenching performance of a Porsche 911 for half the price.

What’s with all those wings and scoops and fender bulges? They widen the regular Impreza’s body for improved stability, add downforce at high speed, channel air to the massive intercooler, and cool the huge brakes. In rally competitions, this makes the STI fit to barrel through narrow mountain roads against maniacs in similar cars.

Unlike regular racing, where the crowds pack in grandstands, rally fans stand on the roadside so their favorite drivers spray dirt in their faces. A few people get killed this way, but most times everyone jumps for joy as the screeching Subarus zoom past. If your neighbor brings home an STI, you have every right to bring the kids inside.

Launching the little Subaru from its lumpy, rumbling idle to a ferocious, 7,000-rpm whine is a wild time. While heavier than the race car, the street STI actually makes more power. The 2.5-liter four cylinder engine — its pistons horizontally opposed, or “flat” like on Porsches — makes a screaming 305 horsepower that’s only tapped by tearing the six-speed gearbox to shreds.

Of course, that won’t happen — what metal Subaru left out of the tinny doors they packed into the manual transmission, stiff suspension, and beefy all-wheel-drive system. But forget about easy speed in any gear — you’ve got to wind this thing bonkers to go fast, as peak power and torque occur close to redline.

Ordinarily, the STI feels kind of sluggish. But that’s because the car’s SI-DRIVE system is desperately trying to save fuel by reducing power. That’s “Intelligent” mode. Flip the rotary knob to “Sport” and you’ll get the ride you paid for. Flip it again to “Sport Sharp” and a pack of fire ants run onto the throttle, instantly making the STI frenzied and jumpy when getting on and off the pedal. While not a great idea in traffic, on a clear stretch the surging Subie is unstoppable.

Subaru even lets the driver fiddle with the torque split, with a multitude of settings designed to either push more power to the front or rear. No other car company lets you do that. I didn’t have a safe area to try it out — plus our car wore harder winter tires with far less grip than the standard summer rubber — but STI owners claim they feel the difference when it’s wet or on tight back roads.

I can report that overall grip is astounding, the suspension firm yet surprisingly compliant, and the brakes phenomenal. The steering is quick but not that accurate, and the shifter’s throws are a bit long and a little vague. These aren’t deal breakers by any means. This is a $35,000 sports sedan that’s faster and more exciting than a $50,000 Audi S4.

Inside, Subaru passes on the savings. Picture a TI-83 calculator in a pile of scrap plastic, and you’ve nailed the STI’s interior. Save for the pieces your limbs touch — the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, the classy aluminum pedals and red-stitched, suede-lined seats — everything is brittle and bone hard. There really is a scientific calculator in the infotainment display, and when you try to adjust the stereo, you get a 1980s graphic equalizer and sound filters so complicated you’ll crash. The headliner is as supple as a U-Haul moving blanket.

What’s ridiculous is how a four-cylinder compact car can only get 17 mpg in the city and a paltry 23 on the highway. In a week — and I’ll admit, I drove it like I was supposed to — I got 16 mpg. Due to their robust, full-time all-wheel-drive systems, Subarus always suffer at the pump, and the hot-blooded STI is the thirstiest. When a Porsche Boxster looks miserly by comparison, something’s very wrong.

The regular WRX, with “only” 265 horsepower, doesn’t include the STI’s fancy hardware and costs $8,500 less. The huge wing is reduced to a small lip on the trunk, and while it’s still fun, the engine’s drone gets tiring on the highway because there’s no sixth gear. Oddly enough, highway mileage improves to 25 mpg.

In either sedan or hatchback form, the STI is admirable because it won’t please everyone, most certainly not the conservative, Forester-driving set in New England. But like any unfettered child, while the STI’s explosive nerves can be annoying to live with, at the right moments, it’s an utterly outstanding piece.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

THE BASICS
Price, base/as tested (with destination): $34,720 / $36,520.
Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 17 city / 23 highway.
Fuel economy, Globe observed: 16 mpg
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter F-4, six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel-drive.
Body: Four-door, five-passenger sedan.

THE SPECIFICS
Horsepower: 305 @ 6,000 rpm.
Torque: 290 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Overall length: 180.3 in.
Wheelbase: 103.3 in.
Height: 57.9 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Curb weight: 3,384 lbs.

THE GOOD: Incredible performance hardware, fast and very collected, embarrasses expensive European sedans

THE BAD: Incredibly tacky, poor interior and fuel economy

THE BOTTOM LINE: A very raw and capable sports sedan for the few who care about it

ALSO CONSIDER: Mitsubishi Evolution, BMW 335i, Ford Mustang GT

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.2
  • Interior design 4.1
  • Performance 4.8
  • Value for the money 4.3
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 4.4

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Best Car Ever

Love it with my heart and soul. Would have sex with it if it was mutually interested. I asked it to marry me. It just sat there idle. Pretty sure it knew how I felt though.

4.6

One of the funnest I've owned

This car is powerful, received a speeding ticket on day one (not a plus but was worth it). Picked it up used in San Diego and drove it back to East side of Arizona right after purchase. I have had zero issues with this car. Over 100k miles and not a drop of oil, no fluid leaks, no Check engine lights. I keep up with the scheduled maintenance and it's been great. Handles like a car on rails, does great down the bumpy dirt roads going home daily, and surprisingly my kids have not destroyed the interior. This car is fun and reliable. I have pushed it to some limits and done some bolt on power (COBB Stage 3 kit w/E85) and the motor and drivetrain still hold up to the extra power and torque.

4.7

Best well rounded "sports car" you can get

So I was deciding between an Audi TTRS, BMW X6M and this Subaru to turn into a casual Rally car. After doing a ton of research, this is by far the best choice. It is the only one that is actually designed to be modified and can take more of a beating. Sure the interior quality is lacking and the stereo has RCA plugs(instead of AUX) like it is from 1990, but otherwise, it is amazing. It has less power than the TT RS I had, but it feels more powerful. I lifted it and put all terrain tires on it and couldn't be happier. The only car I can take to a track or tear up a gravel road just as well, without spending $60,000 on the M6. And the M6 is not available as a manual!!! And there are less offroad modification options for it. Amazing car.

See all 34 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Subaru
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
60 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 years/80,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Coverage available for purchase
Powertrain
7 years/100,000
Dealer certification required
152-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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