At the top of the Subaru food chain, the WRX STI has always been. It’s like the tune by STI has been synonymous with rally and road racing since the early 90’s. The current STI replaces the older wide body, but how much has actually changed?
The EJ257 engine has been In the STI since 2006. It’s dead stone reliable and will make very good power with things like turbo upgrades and other interior parts. The current engine is virtually the same as the one found in the first car and, cosmetically, you can’t tell them apart. It still makes a rather healthy 221kw, but by today’s standards it’s a found a little wanting. The boxer engine note is still there, sounding like a drummer boy that just bangs those drums on and on. The current 0-100kph is claimed at 4.9 seconds (tested in Australia), but we only managed a 6 second flat. I can probably say that this is due to our lower octane in South Africa (98 octane in Aus) as the acceleration through the gears remain strong and gives the STI a feisty personality. Managing the power is all thanks to the Subaru Intelligent drive (SI-drive) and comes in three modes; Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp.
I didn’t really see a use for the Sport mode as Sport Sharp just gave a much more aggressive engine map and actually made the car feel like it had a fair bit of go underneath the hood. Granted, all this still means that it’s a thirsty girl and you have to try very hard to get it below 10l/100km.
The interior of the WRX STI has been majorly improved over the last generation. You have leather bucket seats, with the drivers being 8-way electronically adjustable and all this is accompanied by a good looking D-shape steering wheel. The interior dash is also of a soft touch variant and then there is the plastic carbon inserts which, admittedly, does not do it for me. There is plenty of room behind the driver seat, even with the seat extended all the way back. The rear seat room is also well suited to people over 1.9meters tall.
The infotainment system does everything you expect it to, from USB to Navigation, however the audio quality is not up there with the likes of the German rivals. I highly doubt that if you are considering purchasing the STI that this would be a deal breaker.
Let’s face it; you don’t buy the STI if you want 3 series comfort. It’s a track-based road car and it really shines on anything with turns in the road. It may not be the fastest in its segment, but it sure must have the most lateral grip I’ve felt in a long time. It just hugs the corners and begs you to bury the accelerator deep into that carpet – just make sure you are in Sport Sharp.
Thanks to active torque vectoring, the STI will now use its stability control and brakes to make sure you have the most traction in any given time. This really sets the STI apart from the previous generation cars and especially those without the traction control system. Sure, it’s far more fun to slide around corners and this can still be done by switching the settings to Race mode, where it will disable the traction and stability control. The turn in is also quicker on the new car and steering input feels nice and “weighty”.
Both the 5 Star ANCAP and a EURO NCAP rating respectively assure you that the Subaru team has gone to town on the safety features. No less than 7 airbags infest the cabin and also features a high tensile steel protection around the body. The Brembo 4 pot ABS with EBD is also a usual find on this model.
While the STI has been given flack for its so-called lack of power, it must also be said that there are very few cars that can be more rewarding to drive on a closed circuit. There is just a sense of excitement when you hop into the cabin. It’s true, the STI really stands for STImulate.
The 2015 WRX STI retails for R619 000 and comes standard with a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 3 year 75 000km service plan. For more info, www.subaru.co.za
Watch the video below to see how well the Subaru WRX STI handles when compared to the mighty Audi R8.