That’s my friend Dave Mason standing next to his new Subaru WRX STI. If you’re looking for a moderately-priced, take-no-prisoners sports sedan, look no further than the WRX STI, like Dave, did. This compact road rocket will rush you to 60 in just five seconds, and zip around corners like it’s glued to the road.
The STI has been enthusiast’s darling for years, and the secret to its success is that it has stayed true to its original formula. It is still powered by a 2.5-liter, flat-four, turbo engine, which now delivers 305-hp. It still sports a six-speed manual gearbox that drives all four wheels, and it still features Brembo brakes that act like anchors to haul you down from speed.
The STI displays traditional styling, not radically different from STIs of years past. Its signature features are an air scoop on the hood and a huge wing on the rear deck. Those who would rather not attract law enforcement can have the wing deleted, which is what my friend Dave did. This year, Subaru has given the WRX STI, a slightly more macho look, with a revamped bumper and grille, dark-finished 19-inch wheels and updated Brembo brakes with yellow calipers.
Inside, the cabin layout is straightforward. A seven-inch touchscreen highlights the dash. The display is flanked by knobs for the audio system. However, is easy to inadvertently brush the screen and lose the setting when tuning the radio. Yet, what really stands out about the interior are the Recaro seats, which Dave raves about. They are not only supportive, but very stylish. Red leather trim, nicely complements black suede-like center panels.
Out on the road, you quickly understand why the WRX STI has been so popular with enthusiasts. The car feels eager to do your bidding. The power comes on strong, and the throaty rumble from the engine is like music to the ears of guys like Dave and me. The clutch is slightly heavy, but not objectionable, and the gears engage smoothly. The steering is taut, and delivers good feedback to the driver. Limited-slip differentials on both front and rear axles deliver power to the wheels that need it the most. This system provides the STI with outstanding grip and makes tackling switchback roads a breeze. Furthermore, drivers can select Sport and Sport Sharp modes to enhance performance further. Of course, the price you pay for all this capability is a very firm ride.
The STI comes in three versions, base model, the Limited and the Type RA. The base car comes with all the essentials that a sport sedan requires, like the 305-hp. engine, 19-inch wheels and Brembo brakes, all-wheel drive and the electronic differentials. Recaro seats can be added for $2,500. The Limited gets the Recaros standard, plus a sunroof, navigation and premium audio. Additionally, safety features, such as a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are also included in the package. The Type RA is racing oriented, and gets further suspension and aerodynamic upgrades.
The base STI goes for $36,955. The Limited is priced at $41,755, and the Type RA commands a lofty $49,855.