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Last 7 Days
  • Wicked turbo rush; mechanical differentials do an excellent job; more expensive cars will struggle to keep up on smooth roads
  • Budget interior; sensitive clutch; harsh ride at times; slow steering; rough road body control

OUR RATING
6 / 10



Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review
by Daniel DeGasperi

The rallying exploits are now part of WRC history, though the good news is that hair-raising Imprezas live on in the form of the Subaru WRX STI.

Clocking a near five-year vintage, the current model is the latest iteration of a nameplate that swerved (over crests, past pines…) into the mindset of a generation in the 1990s.

The Subaru WRX STI (along with the similarly aged Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) has long gapped the affordable performance car spectrum, neatly sliding in between hot hatchbacks (VW Golf GTI) and sports coupes (Porsche Cayman). The $50-70K bracket, however, is now populated by the BMW M135i, while the all-new Audi S3 will arrive next year. Stiff competition, and a perfect excuse for a recap of this all-wheel-drive mega-hot hatch (or sedan).

The WRX STI is getting on a bit, and there are old-school aspects to this Subaru – the wicked turbo rush from the 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four engine, the gritty snick of the long-throw six-speed manual, and the way the centre and limited-slip front and rear differentials lock and unlock to juggle torque between the axles and each wheel.

With 221kW at 6000rpm, and 407Nm at 4000rpm, the Impreza WRX STI engine presents a healthy, boosted set of numbers to shift 1520kg of hatchback.

Performance takes priority over efficiency, so while official fuel consumption is 10.5L/100km combined (and climbed to 15L/100km on test) the STI will rush to 100km/h in under six seconds (think 5.5sec).

Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review

The Subaru WRX STI does need to have the revs kept up, as at the lower end of the tacho acceleration is a little underwhelming. This is overcome when the turbo kicks in to deliver a firecracker response.

Keep the 2.5-litre in its mid-range, surfing the boosted torque with a mere right-ankle flex, and the WRX STI will despatch country roads faster than almost anything that doesn’t wear a Porsche badge.

The suspension settings aren’t of the ultra-taut variety like a Lancer Evo’s, and the Impreza has plenty of body roll through corners. Use the centre console switch, though, to segue the centre differential settings from ‘lock’ at 50:50 front/rear to almost-all-drive-behind-you, and the WRX STI will act much like a rear driver, with the added bonus of some front-wheel traction to keep things pointed, planted … and ridiculously fast.

The differentials do their thing masterfully well, with no braking-wheel electronic wizardry (beyond stability control, which can be turned off) needed to help disguise a lack of handling ability.

Unfortunately, however, smooth and sweeping country roads (and dirt and gravel, naturally) are the only areas in which the WRX STI excels. Throw severe bumps and undulations into the mix, and the soft-ish suspension falters. Body control is poor by hot hatch standards.

Subaru WRX STI Review
Subaru WRX STI Review

Mid-corner bumps also shiver through the steering rack, while the hydraulic power steering is relatively slow.

Four-wheel Brembo brakes fail to communicate their worth, thanks to a long travel brake pedal that softened after only moderate road use and begs a question about how they would fare at a track day.

Yet in addition to being not very good on bumpy roads, the WRX STI struggles at urban running, too. Beyond the frustrating turbo lag, the clutch is overly sensitive – more than one tester stalled it in traffic – and the acceptable ride quality over small imperfections turns nasty the larger the cavities grow. Over speed humps, the same rough-road body control issues appear.

Subaru attempted to benchmark the Volkswagen Golf with the interior of the previous-generation Impreza that not so long ago was part of the WRX’s badge name, and at the launch of the all-new base range, the company confessed it had been wide of the mark.

The all-new Impreza has massively improved plastics, and in an ideal world the WRX twins would have already inherited these.

For the price – $63,000 in the Spec R trim we tested that for an extra $3000 adds sat-nav, BBS alloys and a sunroof – we would also have expected better audio quality and power seats.

The Subaru WRX STI still has its place, but it is being squeezed by newer, more refined entrants – such as the more affordable Volkswagen Golf R (from $49,990) or, better still, the BMW M135i (from $68,400) – to the higher-priced section of the hot-hatch category.


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Subaru WRX STI Review
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Subaru WRX Specs

STi SPEC R : MY13 : 2.5L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
SUBARU
Model
WRX
Variant
STi SPEC R
Series
MY13
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$46,530 - $52,880
Dealer Retail
$45,510 - $54,120
Dealer Trade
$35,700 - $42,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
2.5L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
407Nm @  4000rpm
Max. Power
221kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
144W/kg
Bore & Stroke
99.5x79mm
Compression Ratio
8.2
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
ALL WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.9
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
60Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
10.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1535
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1470mm
Length
4580mm
Width
1795mm
Ground Clearance
150mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11
Front Rim Size
8.5x18
Rear Rim Size
8.5x18
Front Tyres
245/40 R18
Rear Tyres
245/40 R18
Wheel Base
2625
Front Track
1530
Rear Track
1540
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power Sunroof, Sport Seats
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Hill Holder, Vehicle Stability Control
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Power Steering, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Engine & Transmission
Limited Slip Differential
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker, Radio Compact Disc Player, Sound System with 10 Speakers
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Rear Spoiler, Xenon Headlights
Interior
Leather Upholstery, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Comfort
Racing Sports Seats
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin
Japan