The Subaru Impreza WRX STI, previously available only as a wagon, is newly offered as a sedan for 2011. Our black-on-black test car looks pretty cool, although there's nothing subtle about the huge rear wing, which Subaru claims "maximizes the aerodynamic configuration." I figure it also maximizes your opportunities to be noticed by the police, but what the heck, it's part and parcel of the WRX STI experience, just like the big hood scoop. The eighteen-inch wheels are also new for 2011 and are lighter. The changes for 2011 are not just cosmetic, as the suspension has been retuned with higher spring rates, bigger antiroll bars, and new bushings.
I showed the STI to a buddy who owns a Mazda Miata and is a bit of a car nut. He'd never been in a WRX and was very impressed by the aggressively bolstered front seats but offered that he could do without the rear wing.
Despite these changes, the STI feels very familiar, with that raspy turbo four churning under the hood, the short-throw manual transmission, the rigid but not too rough ride, and the ability to catapult you down the road as long as you work the turbo boost and the pedals properly. Yet you can also drive it quite benignly around town.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
After attending the launch of the new Subaru STI last summer, I thought at the time that the steering felt vague during our track drive. Now, after driving a Mitsubishi Evo just a couple weeks before this, I still stand by my original comments. However, the Subaru STI still brings out the rally star in you all with its fabulous all-wheel-drive system, powerful turbocharged-boxer engine, and tight 6-speed manual gearbox.
For 2011, Subaru brought the sedan back for the first time since 2007. The 2008 redesign was hatchback only. Now buyers have a choice of hatchback or sedan for their STI. Personally, I still prefer the hatchback.
The STI may soon be all by itself amongst the rally-inspired street performers as rumors are the Evo may be disappearing from Mitsubishi's lineup. Perhaps the new Volkswagen Golf R will slide into its place once that car arrives here later this year.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator