Written by: Adil Arif
Photography by: Adil Arif
Ever since the late rally driving legend Colin McRae piloted the first generation Subaru Impreza STI, the car has developed a tremendous fan following. One hell of a machine driven by one immensely skilled driver led to numerous championships and manufacturer titles. Subaru became king overnight and every Tom, Dick and Harry thought they could buy an STI and instantly become a rally racer.
The only drawback was that initially, the STI wasn’t available for North Americans. So in the meantime enthusiasts were importing STI parts from Japan or building up and modifying their Subie to mimic overseas. It wasn’t until 10 years later that Canada finally received the STI in its second generation form.
It was around the time I had graduated from high school. When I heard the news, excitement filled the air - no longer did I have to resort to Gran Turismo or other racing games to get my Subie fix. Finally the iconic STI badge had reached our shores and I could witness it first hand, from a distance of course. I always had a deep respect for the iconic rally lineage of the badge - I always knew the stats, performance figures and ins and outs of each generation thereafter. Being the lucky chap that I am this week, I was finally able to get behind the wheel of the newest STI and share my thoughts on this special car.
Subaru Technica International is what it stands for. It’s Subaru’s in-house racing division, as what the M division is to BMW. Now dubbed just the Subaru WRX STI (Subaru decided to drop the Impreza name), it’s simpler but make no mistake, this fire-breathing machine is more advanced than ever.
We were behind the wheel of the STI just last year and other than a revised touchscreen display and new safety tech, everything remains exactly the same for 2016. The iconic 2.5L turbocharged flat four engine makes a welcome return, and carries with it 305 HP and 290 lb-ft of torque. Subaru believes if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, and that remains true as this engine style has been used in the STI since the late 90’s. With the exception of the last generation STI, which was offered as a hatchback guise (criticized for being ugly, myself included), the exterior has maintained itself with minor body style changes throughout the generations. It’s got the same four-door sedan styling with an aggressive look and unmistakable rear wing.
Our 2016 STI with the Sport package came with a few extra goodies – an STI skirt package all around ($1,380), a rear diffuser ($520) and a stainless free flowing STI exhaust system ($1,200). All accessories can be bought from the factory and are welcome add-ons. The lip kit gives a much more combative look to an already athletic and robust exterior, and the rear diffuser along with the huge rally style wing screams speed. Together, the car looks fast from every angle and the dual tips from the STI exhaust look the business as well.
Once started, the exhaust is loud and you can hear the rumbling of the BOXER engine as it warms up. It’s a sound no other engine really makes and the upgraded exhaust only accentuates that, adding a rich and deep tone that intimidates anyone in the near vicinity. Although quite loud at times it sounds very mature and is tolerable for day-to-day driving. Down low in the RPM range it hums and grunts with aggression and midrange changeover is not too raspy. When the cams come on and the turbo is spooled, the note changes again with more induction and engine noise – in short, it is $1,200 well spent.
We covered the chassis and driving dynamics thoroughly in our review for last year’s model, but it needs to be said again as this car just never ceases to impress. The STI’s acceleration is linear, predictable, and the car pulls hard anywhere between 2,000 RPM all the way to the 7,000 RPM redline. It’s a fantastic engine and it’s no wonder why Subaru has kept it alive for so many years. Its response is supercar-like and can also be fine-tuned and tweaked via Subaru’s SI-Drive.
Three options are available – Intelligent, Sport and Sport # (Sport Sharp). Intelligent mode eases daily commuting by provided a lower torque curve, softer pedal and steering response and a slightly softer suspension - the most comfortable setting. Sport mode is the most balanced and dials things up a bit in every department keeping a happy medium. Sport # mode is where it’s at and is really the highlight of the STI. Throttle and steering response is coincidently razor sharp, the suspension is racetrack-stiff and the torque curve is at its peak - basically the license suspension setting of the three.
The gearbox was great but not as precise as I would have liked. There’s no solid clunk, notch or affirmation from the lever, and the throws felt a bit long. It took some getting used to but a short shifter would greatly improve the actual feel (there is an option straight from the factory for this).
At the end of the day, if you need a car to do it all, I can’t think of a better vehicle. Switch out the 18-inch summer tires with a nice pair of winter spec ones and the car will outperform most SUVs thanks to Subaru’s legendary AWD system. It inspires confidence in any terrain and provides an endless amount of grip. Should you feel the need to redirect power to the front or back wheels, you can do so with the Driver Controlled Center Differential. It allows you to customize the limited slip differential to create a bias either towards the front or rear wheels, essentially mimicking a FWD or RWD car.
Here’s a surprise: we managed decent mileage for once. Normally with a test car, manufacturers tend to water down the figures, but with combined city and highway and a heavy foot we averaged 13.6 L/100km and Subaru rates the STI at a combined 12.2 L/100km. Not bad when taking into account a few hard launches and spirited driving down our favorite back roads.
It’s always nice getting back behind the wheel of a favorite. The Subaru WRX STI is a car that has four-door practicality, can accommodate your family, dominate track days, and with the right set of tires it can confidently command every season. It even has good leg and headroom in the rear, the seats can fold down for extra storage, and the stereo isn’t bad either.
With our STI Sport Package tester ringing up just under $44,000 with all the added accessories, I can confidently say no other car comes close. For years the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution were pitted against each other but with the announcement of the Evolution ceasing production after 2015, the 2016 Subaru WRX STI is the last man standing. If you’re looking for a car that has supercar performance but comes with the practicality of a four-door sedan, save yourself the trouble and get an STI.
型号 Model: 2016 Subaru WRX STI Sport Package
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $40,795
試車售價 Price as Tested: $43,895
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,650
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,959 / 1,795 / 1,475
車重 Curbweight (kg): 1,535
引擎 Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC turbocharged 16-valve 4-cylinder SUBARU BOXER
最大馬力 Horsepower: 305 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 290 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: Close-ratio 6-speed manual with Hill Holder system
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut with aluminum lower suspension arm with pillow ball mounts and bushings, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double-wishbone
煞制 Brakes: Brembo 4-wheel disc, ventilated front and rear, dual-piston rear calipers
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 13.8 / 10.2 / 12.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Dunlop Sport Maxx RT; 245/40R18