2018 Subaru WRX STI: Rally car for the road

Posted by Wheels On Edge about 7 months ago
Ever wanted to awaken your inner rally god? The Subaru WRX STI lets you do that. Or at least it makes you feel like you did. A host of improvements for 2018 make the new STI an even better package than it already was.

From the outside, there’s no mistaking the WRX STI with any other Subaru – even a ‘base’ WRX. New for 2018 are a set of fantastic lime green Brembo brakes (6-piston front, 2-piston rear) that barely hide behind 18-inch gunmetal Enkei alloys (19-inch optional). Sure it’s not the iconic World Rally Blue with gold wheels, but it still works nicely. The STI’s iconic massive wing and quad exhaust tips remain but for anyone seeking a little more subtlety, a low-profile trunk spoiler is also available. Subaru also tweaked the STI’s aerodynamics, reshaping the front lower and upper grilles to improve air intake and air flow. 

Under the hood, the turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder boxer engine, good for 305 horsepower, remains unchanged. Those power figures may not look impressive on paper, but behind the wheel, the car feels like it has an engine twice its size with all the power to match. Stomp the throttle and the STI punches you in the back of the head and pins you to its supportive Recaro seats. At around 4,000 RPM, the turbo kicks in – hard. Its power delivery is nothing short of savage. The transmission, perhaps a little too notchy, requires some finessing. It’s not as forgiving as, say, the Honda Civic Type-R’s. But once you get a feel for it, seamless shifting and a well-timed heel-toe downshift make the STI an absolute blast to drive – especially with its burbling exhaust. 
Many vehicles have switched to an electronically controlled steering system, but Subaru kept the STI a little more old school with a hydraulic system – and it works very well. The steering is sharp and responsive. Stiff suspension can be forgiving on rough city streets, but the feedback given to the driver keeps you feeling in control. The STI’s all-wheel drive certainly helps too. Push it and it’ll allow a little bit of slip, but not enough to put you in danger. New for 2018 is an electronically controlled centre differential, doing away with the mechanical version from last year’s. Subaru say it reacts faster and keeps the ride smooth and controlled. You can tweak it to be more rear biased, front biased or even fully locked. 
The STI suffers where a lot of Subarus do – the interior. It’s not exactly the lap of luxury. While it doesn’t match the level of refinement you’ll find in competitors like the Volkswagen Golf R, Subaru has made efforts to improve. You’ll still find hard plastic surfaces but visually at least, things are a little more exciting. Red seatbelts, soft touch materials, contrast red stitching and some very nice Recaro seats do take away from what is otherwise a bit of a Spartan cabin. It would be nice to see some more refinement inside. Even Subaru’s own Impreza has a nicer cabin than the STI. But on the positive side, the inside of the WRX/STI is incredibly roomy, even in the back. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, opening up to the equally roomy trunk.

Canadians and Subaru go hand in hand. The brand consistently reaches high sales figures in our country. Standard all-wheel-drive on all models (except BRZ) suit our climate nicely, and coupled with reliable Japanese engineering, 98% of Subarus sold in the last decade are still on the road, according to the company. The new 2018 WRX STI is a relative performance, starting at just under $40,000 in Canada. The changes Subaru made for the new model year improve on what was already an excellent package.

Written by Shane Kalicharan

2018 Subaru WRX STI, Rally, Impreza, off-road

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