Text: Brent Co / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go | posted October 03, 2016 11:11
Two-decade legacy of the seven star marque
In the car community, the letters S, T, and I — in that order — have always represented outstanding performance.
Originally founded by Noriyuki Koseki as Subaru Technica International, the STI badge dates back to 1992 when it debuted as the Japanese automaker's motorsport arm on their Leone model, the predecessor of the Impreza. The first official STI model on the other hand was released as the Impreza WRX STI in 1994. The fourth generation Subaru WRX STI officially made its global debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, followed soon after by a Southeast Asian debut in April.
Now we drive the current generation WRX STI, just to see how far two decades of racing and constant development has moved things along.
The fourth generation of the WRX STI represents a serious leap by the Japanese automaker after it decided to drop the Impreza name from its performance model after about two decades. But despite the lack of an 'Impreza' nameplate, it still is based on the compact four-door Impreza model but sits on a more performance-oriented architecture.
When Subaru finally uncovered the Impreza-dilineated WRX STI, it was, well… the butt of internet jokes by car fans with hundreds of memes to boot. Not that it was a bad looking car, because it really seemed to look like its rival — the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Be that as it may, it represented the beginning of a new design language for the brand. A boxier (pun intended) profile takes over from the previously round shape to match with Subaru's trademark "Boxer" engine. Personally, I like the new styling cues despite the resemblance to the main rival.
As you open the door, the flat bottom steering wheel, steel pedals, sport seats with contrasting STI signature pink inserts and stitching invite you to hop on, start it up and drive away. The cockpit does so with much more encouragement, especially when you feel the seat bolsters and the meaty steering wheel. But before all of that, we'll just go through some of the improvements and refinements Subaru has done to the last refesh of the fourth-generation WRX STI.
While we can clearly see the design direction, Subaru did more under the skin. A lot of attention was put to making the car a lot more civilized, which includes better insulation, improved vibration damping and more premium interior materials; improvements that can be felt right away. A lot of the instrumentation has now been digitized such as the multi-information display screens on the main instrument cluster and the center stack.
Under the hood is the venerable 2.5-liter EJ25 boxer-4 turbo engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, enabling the driver to transfer all 300 metric horsepower and 407 newton meters of torque to the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. While essentially being a carryover from the previous generations, improvements have likewise been made in terms of refinement, reliability and performance.
Receiving the most amount of improvement on this generation of the WRX STI is the chassis, and Subaru also tweaked the suspension and the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Weight and stability has somehow been properly managed with nearly perfect balance. Models in the past would characteristically leer and understeer when cornering hard, yet this car negotiates the same kinds of turns with more finesse.
The current WRX STI may be on its encore, as the company is developing the new model based on their new Subaru Global Platform, one that will be coming out in a year or two. It’s a nice fast sedan with a manual gearbox that will satisfy your speed devil goals at a rather affordable price tag of PhP 2,498,000.
Depending on the lifestyle you live, the WRX STI may either be a boon or bane, and it's still reserved for the jeans-and-sneakers type of owner if they want to live with it in traffic on the daily commute. There’s always the WRX with CVT for those who want the best of both worlds with comfort and speed.