2018 Subaru WRX STI Review

WRX STI

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2018 Subaru WRX STI Overview

For about a decade now, the Subaru WRX STI continues to surprise in that it’s a 4-cylinder 4-door sedan with Impreza commuter-car roots that strikes fear into the hearts of muscle cars and even some exotics. With a well-engineered all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, rally-bred underpinnings, and gobs of power on tap thanks to its large turbo, the 2018 WRX STI does it all and still manages to carry 4 people comfortably. The latest generation of this tuner favorite is still fairly fresh, but changes to the 2018 WRX STI and its WRX sibling include a new front bumper, a larger grille, and black exterior trim. To distinguish the WRX lineup from the normal Impreza, WRXs receive a unique hood, fenders, bumpers, and lights. Even the STI variant struggles to look like more than a hotted-up family car to the casual observer, however, which belies the brilliantly engineered track-day weapon underneath.

For 2018, the WRX STI gets new LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, upgraded Brembo brakes, and a large rear wing. Unfortunately for fans of the old WRX hatchback, the 4-door sedan is still the only body style available, and it starts at $36,095. The arch rival of the WRX STI—the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution—is no longer in production, but it does face competition from the likes of the Ford Focus RS, the Volkswagen Golf R, and the upcoming Honda Civic Type R.

Under the hood of the STI is a turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer 4-cylinder engine (compared to the 2.0-liter powertrain from the standard WRX) paired with a 6-speed manual transmission for an output of 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. The STI is no lightweight, but its AWD system does wonders for acceleration and the latest version will reach 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds. With a larger, more high-strung engine than that of the standard WRX, the STI is naturally thirstier, and its fuel-economy figures are quite frankly terrible for a 4-cylinder car in this day and age. Expect numbers of 17 mpg city, 22 highway, and 19 combined, and factor in the extra cost of premium fuel.

Compared to the normal WRX, the WRX STI has stiffer suspension (revised for 2018), more bracing, a different gearbox, better Brembo brakes, a quicker steering ratio, and a more advanced AWD system with a helical limited-slip differential up front and a Torsen limited-slip differential in rear.

For 2018, the WRX STI receives an updated version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system with a larger 7-inch screen, improved sound deadening, and higher-quality interior materials. The STI tries to justify its higher price with appointments like leather and faux-suede upholstery, dual-zone climate control, and a better center console, but for a car that costs dangerously close to 40 grand, the interior just does not look or feel that luxurious. That said, nobody shells out the extra cash for the STI model for extra creature comforts, but to get their hands on one of the quickest cars in this or just about any price point—and for that reason, the car’s basic appearance and interior are forgivable. It’s still a heck of a lot of car for the money.

While Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight driver-assistance suite is available on the normal WRX, it can’t be ordered on the WRX STI. The important thing, though, is that the WRX STI still offers one of the highest performance-per-dollar ratios in the car world. It provides the tempting combination of near-supercar levels of performance, year-round driving capability thanks to AWD, enough space to haul plenty of passengers and luggage, and the kind of Subaru build quality that allows for worry-free daily driving. There simply aren’t many cars on the market that offer such sheer speed with this kind of practicality and dependability.

Updated

Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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