All-new for 2019, Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru's in-house skunk works, is bringing 209 STI S209's - get it? - to the U.S. domestic market for the none too small price of $63,995. Subaru promises that the iconic nameplate continues the tradition of past STI offerings with superior handling, acceleration and driving dynamics. Well, for that price, I sure hope so!
Starting under the hood, STI drops in the legendary EJ25 2.5 liter flat-4 with revised air intake, upgraded fuel system, larger turbos pumping out 18.9 pounds of boost, free flow exhaust, and a thoroughly optimized ECU delivering 341 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. A nifty little feature is the incorporation of an intercooler water-spray system activated by a paddle on the steering wheel with the reservoir located in the trunk. Subaru claims that this will result in short bursts of increased acceleration. I can see the need for frequent refills if you get frisky behind the wheel!
On the handling side, the suspension benefits from upgraded Bilstein dampers, retuned spring-rates, and pillow-ball bushings on the lateral links. BBS supplied 19 x 9-inch alloy wheels with bespoke Dunlop GT600A summer-only tires contribute significantly to grip. Braking is aided by Brembo 6-piston cross-drilled monoblock steel units up front and 2-piston steelies in the back. High friction pads are used throughout.
On the outside, the S209 will only be offered in blue with gray wheels and white with gold. And unfortunately, as many have criticized Subaru for the absence of an STI with a hatch, it will only be offered as a 4-door sedan.
The rest of the body is given the obligatory boy racer treatment with widened haunches, flares, spoilers, sills and a big honking wing. While I am generally averse to these over the top frankenstein creations that manufacturers churn out to create brand buzz, there is something about this model that coheres quite well. And I definitely think it looks better than the Honda Civic Type R.
As for as the interior, I love it. On the one hand, it screams special edition with all of requisite goodies. On the other, it doesn't go overboard with too many contrasting colors. 8-way Recaro seats, an ultra-suede steering wheel, multi-function display, and a limited edition serialized plate affixed behind the shifter round out the package.
But in a world with mid-$30k Honda Civic Type R's and base Subaru STI's, the $40k Volkswagen Golf R, and even $20k-ish used Ford Focus RS's, does the S209 make sense? In a word, no. For Subie fanatics and collectors the car represents value of a sort but if you're agnostic to brand and model and are looking for performance in the AWD boy racer set, the aforementioned models will serve you much better. Plus, you'll have tons of extra scratch to mod your car to the moon and back. Buckle up!