Saturday, October 9, 2010

2011 Subaru WRX STI

The 2008–2010 Subaru WRX STI was something of an enigma, a bit like people who enjoy eating headcheese. Stiffer springs, thicker front and rear anti-roll bars, revised front control arm bushings, and firmer rear subframe bushings all have been fitted. Unlike the WRX, the STI features the adjustable SI-Drive system that allows the pilot to tune throttle response, and there are also multiple modes for the STI-specific DCCD locking center differential. A perhaps more significant change for 2011, however, is the reintroduction of an STI sedan to accompany the five-door hatchback. At 3420 pounds, the sedan we tested here was 34 pounds heavier than was our long-term 2008 STI hatch. Both STI models get a more aggressive front fascia and a blacked-out grille; the sedan gets a wing that’s big enough to adorn a Formula 1 car. The five-speed "Subaru Impreza WRX", of course, requires only one gearshift during a 0–60 run where the six-speed STI needs two, but it was slower even over the quarter-mile: 13.9 seconds at 99 mph against 13.7 at 100 mph for the Subaru Impreza WRX. (The WRX gets around at 0.89 g.)

The STI rides in a more supple, controlled manner than the previous car, despite the stiffer front springs, which also help mitigate understeer at the limit. We’d stick with the Subaru Impreza WRX.
Sharp, muscular, agile, eager. It's also a mix that, with the new 2011 model-year WRX STI Type UK (note that the Impreza moniker is no more), Subaru appears to have rediscovered.
Whoever wins their very own Subaru Impreza WRX STI in this competition will earn my eternal envy.
The new WRX STI's suspension is the key to all the fun. All-new lightweight alloys and upgraded Brembo brakes complete the picture. Switch the still-present intelligent Subaru SI drive unit to its sharpest setting, and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI reveals that it can provide sharp throttle and chassis response without sacrificing the assured grip of a proper all-wheel drivetrain.

By far the most significant change to the Subaru Impreza WRX STI's spec, however, is the fitment as standard of some rather natty Recaro sports seats, which cosset and support in equal measure - and which utterly transform the driving position. Before, the current-generation STi's seats always felt flat, wooden and oddly positioned; not so now.
With cars like the Renault Megane R26 R and the Ford Focus RS firmly embedded in the public's consciousness, the Subaru Impreza WRX does feel a smidgen old-fashioned, particularly in the showroom.

Around back, the wider track is most noticeable. The metal bits were dropped, in favor of more black plastic pieces and give the car a more grown up look. Besides the plastic bits, the interior is fairly decent. The wider track pays off in the bends, as do the wider wheels. For 2011, the Subaru Impreza WRX comes with 17x8 alloys wrapped it 235/45R17 Dunlop SPo1 summer tires. The increase in size hasn’t affected the weight though, as Subaru claims the new wheels decrease weight by 1.5 pounds each.

Under the aggressively sculpted hood lies a 265 horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 244 pound-feet of torque. Like all Subaru models, the WRX comes with full-time all-wheel drive.

The EPA rates the new 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX at 19 miles per gallon city and 25 mph on the highway, but we managed an overall rating of 24.7 mpg during city, highway, and some spirited driving. Even with Ohio’s terrible roads, nothing could spoil the WRX’s wonderful driving experience. That sensational motor wasn’t even the best bit of the new WRX. Like the 1980s New York Mets, the Subaru WRX has grown up and surpassed its big brother, the 2010 STI.

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