Perhaps it is arbitrary to address the last-generation Subaru Impreza WRX STI to a abode in history best active by the brand of New Coke and the Pet Rock. Yet aback Subaru credible the 2008 STI–the backup for its legendary, flame-snorting antecedent which launched in the United States in 2004–there was no artifice the activity that its achievement flagship ability accept absent as abundant as it acquired forth the way. And for what?
Yes, the 2008 STI was smoother and quieter. It additionally acquainted softer and easier to drive, even–and this was the black part–tame in allegory with the original. Some of that activity was artlessly acumen built-in from assured refinement, but it remained in abode to some amount alike as Subaru’s engineers bigger the car’s abeyance and agent for 2009, with alike added abeyance upgrades added to aftermost year’s STI Special Edition. Unfortunately for the artefact planners and the aboriginal adopters, this is generally the case aback an alarming apparatus evolves, abnormally one that accustomed on the arena accouterment a active acquaintance so 18-carat that it becoming a assorted loyalist afterward spanning acceptable gearheads, assemblage basics and the sterotypical street-racer fan boys accomplished on PlayStation added than their bounded alley courses.
Two and a bisected years later, Subaru does not feel a charge to apologize for the aftermost STI, as sales accept remained almost abiding at about 3,000 to 3,500 cars awash per year. It does, however, accede “a aberration in [company] aesthetics aback that car was launched,” as one agent said on the eve of the 2011 model’s introduction. “You can’t amuse everybody.”
No, but aboriginal drives of the new WRX and WRX STI announce that Subaru has appear abundant afterpiece to accomplishing so this time around.
The best accessible acumen is the acknowledgment of a sedan, which joins the five-door auto in the STI lineup. Subaru has consistently offered a four-door adaptation of the WRX but binned the STI auto for 2008 because it capital to advertise abeyant buyers on a absolute articulation amid the alley car and the hatchback-based Apple Assemblage Championship adversary of the time. Still, while the five-door’s beneath overhangs fabricated it easier for WRC disciplinarian Petter Solberg to apperceive area his assemblage car’s corners were, and accordingly accumulate it in one allotment at dispatch through the forests of Wales and the snow banks of Finland, the architecture bootless to bell with a fair allocation of determined customers.
“Consumer acknowledgment [said] that a lot of bodies didn’t like the hatch; a lot capital the sedan,” Subaru’s agent said. “When we took that away, [some anticipation the car was] too mild, too mellow.”
There is far beneath adventitious of that now, alike if you still feel that the latest architecture lacks the original’s raw beheld appulse and credible aberancy of purpose. The WRX and STI sedans and hatches now allotment aggressive, wide-body panels. The actualization is all new to Impreza sedans, while revised agilely in the advanced on five-door versions. To analyze the STI as the top-of-the-line edition, the auto already afresh flaunts a alpine signature rear wing, now acutely arched in sculpting, and all STIs accept bigger auto and tires and, of course, STI badging.
If you were acquisitive for added power, you’ll appetite to skip the afterward section, as engines and transmissions abide unchanged. The WRX’s 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four still appearance best addition burden of 14.2 psi and produces 265 hp at 6,000 rpm and 244 lb-ft of torque at 4,000. The STI engine, with 14.7 psi of boost, charcoal rated at 305 hp at 6,000 rpm and 290-lb-ft at 4,000. Subaru engineers say that the WRX still runs from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, the STI in 4.9. Acquaintance shows that Subaru’s official dispatch numbers tend to abatement into the bourgeois zone, though; as with the old cars, you should be able to barber 0.2 to 0.3 additional from those times. Officially, the WRX acme out at 142 mph, while the STI sedan’s bigger aerodynamics bang its top dispatch to 158 mph, 3 mph faster than the hatchback.
Straightline running, though, is not what will accomplish this bearing of cars memorable or cogent to the lineage, as they feel identical to their predecessors aback you able the burke in following of authentic velocity. And as nice as the wide-body architecture and agilely reworked autogenous are (there’s a new audio arrangement and apparatus cluster, and STIs are now accessible with covering seats and ability moonroof in Limited trim), that’s not abundant to acquire them a new affiliate in the Book of Impreza. But what lies beneath aloof might, as it absolutely improves the administration with acutely no abridgement in ride quality.
According to Hiroshi Mori, the cars’ accepted manager, “all [mechanical] changes for 2011 [are intended] to advance disciplinarian confidence, administration and response.” Antecedent impressions from a day abaft the caster of the WRX and STI say that he and his aggregation accomplished their target.
The key modifications lie aural the suspension, which appearance a added clue (by 1.3 inches in front, 1.5 rear) fabricated accessible by the flared bodywork. WRX caster and annoy sizes access as well, with 17- x 8-inch auto against the antecedent edition’s 17 x 7. Tires admeasurement 235/45, up from 225/45. As for the STI, caster admeasurement carries over (18 x 8.5), as does annoy admeasurement (245/40). The WRX additionally receives firmer rear abeyance subframe bushings, and our abrupt drive on Colorado abundance anchorage indicates that there is beneath anatomy cycle through corners to go forth with added grip.
Extended time in the STI, though, reveals the absolute achievement story. Mori’s engineers adapted the advanced abeyance with a affection able-bodied accepted to racers and aftermarket performance-part junkies. “Pillow ball” bushings—or all-around bearings, if you prefer—attach the aluminum lower ascendancy accoutrements to the advanced suspension’s subframe. Whereas the old STI acclimated economical elastic bushings with animate sleeves, the new design’s able animate bearings accommodate alert as abundant attrition to fore/aft armament and advance camber and toe stiffness.
From there, it’s a trickle-down aftereffect throughout the suspension. Advanced bounce amount increases by 15.6 percent, the rear by an absorbing 53 percent over the accepted 2010 STI and 18 percent against the above STI Special Edition. Antiroll confined are hardly beyond (21 millimeters against 20 in front, 19 against 18 out back), and the ride acme drops by 5 millimeters. Mori says that the STI now generates 0.93 g of best crabbed anchor compared with the 2010’s 0.90, and there is 33 percent beneath anatomy roll. The aggregate changes and newfound acerbity accomplish bigger use of the advanced tires, which ahead suffered aerial abrasion on the alien third of their tread.
Your behind relays the bulletin bigger than any numbers on a blueprint anytime could. Our drive on the alley adumbrated improvements in grip, dive, cycle and bend turn-in, with the STI demography a quicker, firmer and added confidence-inspiring attitude through corners that will be credible to drivers of capricious accomplishment levels—just as Mori said.
Back-to-back drives in 2010 and 2011 STIs on Aspen Motorsports Park’s agee blueprint accepted those feelings. While the 2010 car’s tires roared in bent pain, the 2011’s elastic alone chirped, alike during advised attempts to advance harder and harder in adjustment to agitate the chassis, to acquisition the atom aback an inherent “softness” emerged as it did in the old car. Such a book never happened. Front-end chaw is abundant better, with beneath understeer and bigger anchor through all phases of cornering. The new STI appears to handle crabbed transitions decidedly bigger than the old, and after doubt, the aberration amid the two ancestors was absolutely laid bare.
As this was a aboriginal drive, affluence charcoal to be apparent about the latest WRX and STI. There are abounding added afar to awning in the absolute apple afore we accept a absolute faculty of whether Subaru has taken a above footfall against rediscovering the line’s old magic. But if antecedent impressions prove correct, there’s alone one affair to say about the antecedent incarnation.
2011 Subaru Impreza WRX
On Sale: Late August/early September
Base Price: $26,220
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter, turbocharged, 265-hp, 244-lb-ft H4; AWD, five-speed manual
Curb Weight: 3,208 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.4 sec (mfr)
Fuel Economy (EPA): 21 mpg
2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
On Sale: Late August/early September
Base Price: $34,720
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter, turbocharged, 305-hp, 290-lb-ft H4; AWD, six-speed manual
Curb Weight: 3,384 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.9 sec (mfr)
Fuel Economy (EPA): 19 mpg
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