Subaru WRX STi Review

By: David Berthon

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 Subaru WRX STi Subaru WRX STi  Subaru WRX STi
 Subaru WRX STi Subaru WRX STi  Subaru WRX STi
 Subaru WRX STi Subaru WRX STi  Subaru WRX STi

As the MY11 WRX gains physical muscle, the STi loses a pedal...

Subaru WRX STi Review
Road test: Subaru WRX STi

 

Subaru WRX STi 

Criticised in 2007 for softening and watering down its performance icon, Subaru Australia has returned the WRX to its hardcore roots for the 2011 model year with an update that offers extraordinary value.

Not only does the latest WRX gain the same pumped body of the hotter STi variant, as well as several other upgrades, but it retains its original 1994 sticker price of $39,990. The more-powerful WRX STi, now available in sedan as well as hatch, has actually dropped $2000 to $59,990, and for the first time gains a five-speed auto option (at no extra cost) with wheel-mounted paddles. Another $6000 buys the Spec R with sat-nav, sunroof, leather and BBS rims.

Visually, little now differentiates the wider, more muscular MY11 WRX from the hotter STi, apart from the STi’s much larger boot spoiler, 18-inch alloys and subtle badging. This may disappoint the more potent model’s most ardent worshippers, but the result is a big gain for WRX. Its track is now 35mm wider up front and 40mm wider at the rear, while its new lightweight, gun-metal-grey 17-inch alloys wear wider 235/45R17 tyres. The WRX also adopts the sportier STi’s quad-tailpipe exhaust system for a subtle, but nicely throbby note.

Engines remain unchanged apart from different ECU mapping for the new auto STi. The standard WRX retains the 195kW/343Nm 2.5-litre turbo boxer with variable valve timing on the intake cams, and it’s still only available with a five-speed manual, which is somewhat limiting in such a powerful car ticking over at a high 2600rpm at 100km/h in fifth.

The 221kW WRX STi features variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust valves – mated to a superior six-speed manual or new five-speed auto. The auto produces the same power (albeit 200rpm higher) but torque drops from 407Nm at 4000rpm to 350Nm across a 3000-6000rpm plateau. Despite this, Subaru Australia thinks that 70 per cent of customers will opt for the auto variant.

The auto shares the STi manual’s revised suspension set-up, featuring a new aluminium front control arm, revised front and rear bushes, retuned dampers and 5mm-lower ride height. Anti-roll bars are thicker, spring rates have increased substantially (15.6% front, 53% rear), and new 18-inch Enkei alloys save a combined 7.5kg on the base car – making this the sharpest, best-handling STi ever.

At the Philip Island circuit, the mastery of the new lightweight STi set-up is just so evident – the car displaying enormous grip punching out of corners. But only the STi manual gets dual-stage ESP, a front limited-slip diff and manually-adjustable Driver Control Centre Differential, making it the clear driver’s choice over the auto.

Little has changed interior-wise apart from some new finishes because all Subaru’s efforts have been channelled elsewhere. And what an impressive return to form.


SPECIFICATIONS

Subaru impreza WRX STi


Engine: 2457cc flat 4, DOHC, 16v, turbo

Power: 221kW @ 6000rpm

Torque: 407Nm @ 4000rpm (auto: 350Nm @ 3000-6000rpm)

Weight: 1510kg (man hatch), 1535kg (auto sedan)

Transmission: 6-speed man/5-speed auto
0-100km/h 5.2sec (man), 6.0sec (auto)

Top speed: 250km/h (claimed – manual)

Price: $59,990 – $66,990

 

 

 

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