The WRX STI has lengthy been the top of Subaru efficiency within the US, however that is not the case throughout the Pacific in Japan. This is the place Subaru has lengthy offered its S-Series automobiles, the S201 by means of S208, all of which have been mere goals to American fanatics. That all modifications with the brand new S209, a limited-edition, range-topping STI that is lastly being offered on US soil. And let me let you know, this one is not for the faint of coronary heart.
LikeIncredible chassis engineeringMore energy and torque than the usual WRX STISix-speed handbook transmission is a pleasure
Don’t LikeBump steer galoreMiddling infotainment systemVery spendy
The S209 takes the whole lot we love about the usual WRX STI and turns it as much as eleven. Aggressive aero? Check. Carbon fiber wing and roof? You realize it. Upgraded 2.5-liter turbocharged engine? Hells to the yeah. But amid all these upgrades, it is the chassis that will get probably the most consideration right here. In the phrases of my colleague Andrew Krok, “It’s toight like a toiger.” How tight? Tight sufficient for a freshly opened can of Diet Dr. Pepper to spill when I’m driving by means of a residential neighborhood. Tight sufficient for an insane quantity of bump steer to come back by means of over each pavement irregularity. Tight sufficient for me to smile and giggle like a maniac as I pilot the S209 by means of the deserted again roads of Northern California, solely to show round and run the identical route time and again.
A wider observe and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires means this factor has grip for days.
Frankly, it isn’t shocking that the S209 is stiffer than a… effectively, you already know. It has all types of race automotive goodies. Aside from the usual Bilstein shocks and comes, the S209 goes large with reinforcements to the chassis, a versatile front-strut tower bar, entrance and rear draw stiffeners and two beefy stabilizer bars measuring 24 millimeters up entrance and 20 millimeters out again. Combined with a fast 13.3:1 hydraulic-assist steering rack and 265/35R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summer time tires, how may the S209 not knock my socks off?The turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is tuned to provide 341 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, which is up from 310 and 290, respectively, within the WRX STI. A six-speed handbook transmission places the facility all the way down to all 4 wheels with entrance and rear limited-slip differentials. Drivers can dial of their middle differential settings by means of the aptly named Driver Controlled Center Differential. I like to use a heftier rear bias at instances, simply to get the S209 to rotate a bit extra with throttle management, however the S209 does simply wonderful by itself. On a observe, the DCCD would positively play a component in proudly owning the circuit, however on my again roads, the automated setting works nice.
Keeping the S209 in third gear places it within the excellent place for fast nook exits, with the engine’s most torque approaching at 3,600 rpm. Yes, I really feel each bump within the highway with this super-stuff chassis and the bump steer is a little bit disconcerting, however the tradeoff is wonderful. The S209 does my bidding at each flip, diving into turns like a demon, exiting easily and hurtling towards the subsequent one.
Switching the SI-Drive system from Sport to Sport Sharp permits for elevated throttle response and faster acceleration. Subaru says the S209 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is greater than doable, and completely hilarious.Heavy acceleration requires heavy braking, as effectively. The Brembo stoppers do an important job right here, with upgraded high-friction pads and a linear pedal really feel that dares me to brake later and later into every flip. Yes, these pads are a bit noisy and mud collects within the wheel wells, however these brakes present no indicators of fade. Up entrance you will discover 13.4-inch discs with six-piston calipers, whereas out again the S209 makes use of 12.8-inch rotors with dual-piston calipers. All 4 discs are ventilated and cross-drilled to maintain issues as cool as potential. The S209 has a neat little trick up its hood scoop: an intercooler mister. What would usually be a paddle shifter as a substitute directs water onto the warmth exchanger. Cooler air means extra of it may be pushed into the cylinders leading to a much bigger bang and a bit extra energy below your proper foot. It’s not fairly a, “Hit the Nos, Jim” degree of enhance. But when you’re racing, each little bit helps.The inside is usually the identical as the usual STI, save for these superior Recaro seats.
The EPA offers the STI S209 a gas financial system score of 15 miles per gallon metropolis, 21 mpg freeway and 17 mixed. Those aren’t nice numbers, and there’s in reality a $1,000 fuel guzzler tax — which Subaru of America pays. However, even after per week of driving this factor on the pipe, I find yourself matching the EPA’s mixed quantity. So go forward, drive it such as you stole it.Inside, the S209 will get just a few upgrades to set it other than lesser WRX STIs. The Recaro entrance seats are heated, and so they’re completed in ultrasuede, as is the steering wheel. The cloth soaks up the sweat my palms are pushing out whereas I pilot this street-legal race automotive, which is useful but additionally type of gross. There are just a few S209 badges sprinkled all through the cabin, however apart from that, the inside is just about like each different STI — purposeful, however that is it.Infotainment duties are managed by Subaru’s Starlink software program on a 7-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. Starlink is fairly wonderful and usually intuitive, however it does not maintain a candle to the subtle, feature-laden programs you will discover in different efficiency sedans. On high of that, there aren’t any driver-assistance programs to talk of, save for cruise management. If expertise is what you need, go get an Audi RS3 with adaptive cruise management and the super-slick Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster.As its identify suggests, solely 209 of those STIs might be offered within the US.
An Audi may appear to be a league above the Subaru, however belief me, it is not. The S209 prices $64,880, together with $885 for vacation spot, placing it proper in German sport sedan territory. The RS3 begins at $57,195, together with $995 for vacation spot. Heck, even a BMW M2 Competition with greater than 400 hp begins below $60,000.You may assume that’d make the S209 a troublesome promote, however that is not essentially the case. Neither the Audi or BMW are as raucous because the S209. Heck, the RS3 is barely supplied with a dual-clutch transmission, which could be smoother, however definitely takes away from the added involvement you get with the S209’s six-speed handbook transmission. The M2 Competition definitely is rambunctious, however total way more subtle. And ultimately, what I like most in regards to the STI S209 is definitely its lack of refinement.In a world the place many efficiency automobiles appear to be they have to be all issues to all individuals, the S209 is only a pure, rockin’ good time. It’s blissfully free from digital intervention and countless settings. The S209 is a automotive that simply desires to be pushed. Hard.