2019 Subaru STI S209 review: A rowdy and raucous race car for the road

The WRX STI has prolonged been the pinnacle of Subaru functionality in the US, but that’s not the scenario throughout the Pacific in Japan. This is exactly where Subaru has prolonged offered its S-Sequence vehicles, the S201 by way of S208, all of which have been mere desires to American fans. That all improvements with the new S209, a restricted-version, selection-topping STI that’s eventually becoming offered on US soil. And let me inform you, this a person just isn’t for the faint of coronary heart.

Table of Contents


  • Extraordinary chassis engineering
  • More electric power and torque than the normal WRX STI
  • Six-speed manual transmission is a pleasure

Don’t Like

  • Bump steer galore
  • Middling infotainment procedure
  • Incredibly spendy

The S209 requires every little thing we really like about the normal WRX STI and turns it up to eleven. Intense aero? Examine. Carbon fiber wing and roof? You know it. Upgraded two.5-liter turbocharged engine? Hells to the yeah. But amid all these upgrades, it is the chassis that gets the most notice below. In the words of my colleague Andrew Krok, “It really is toight like a toiger.”

How tight? Tight plenty of for a freshly opened can of Diet Dr. Pepper to spill when I’m driving by way of a household community. Tight plenty of for an crazy sum of bump steer to arrive by way of above every and each pavement irregularity. Tight plenty of for me to grin and giggle like a maniac as I pilot the S209 by way of the abandoned back roads of Northern California, only to turn all-around and operate the exact route above and above again.

A broader monitor and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires suggests this issue has grip for days.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

Frankly, it is not astonishing that the S209 is stiffer than a… effectively, you know. It has all forms of race motor vehicle goodies. Aside from the normal Bilstein shocks and springs, the S209 goes major with reinforcements to the chassis, a flexible front-strut tower bar, front and rear attract stiffeners and two beefy stabilizer bars measuring 24 millimeters up front and twenty millimeters out back. Mixed with a swift thirteen.3:1 hydraulic-assist steering rack and 265/35R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summertime tires, how could the S209 not knock my socks off?

The turbocharged two.5-liter four-cylinder engine is tuned to deliver 341 horsepower and 330 pound-toes of torque, which is up from 310 and 290, respectively, in the WRX STI. A six-speed manual transmission places the electric power down to all four wheels with front and rear restricted-slip differentials. Drivers can dial in their middle differential options by way of the aptly named Driver Controlled Center Differential. I like to apply a heftier rear bias at situations, just to get the S209 to rotate a little bit much more with throttle control, but the S209 does just great on its have. On a monitor, the DCCD would definitely engage in a portion in proudly owning the circuit, but on my back roads, the automatic placing performs fantastic.

Preserving the S209 in third gear places it in the great spot for swift corner exits, with the engine’s maximum torque coming on at 3,600 rpm. Sure, I really feel each bump in the highway with this tremendous-stuff chassis and the bump steer is a little disconcerting, but the tradeoff is awesome. The S209 does my bidding at each turn, diving into turns like a demon, exiting easily and hurtling toward the next a person.

Switching the SI-Travel procedure from Sport to Sport Sharp lets for increased throttle response and a lot quicker acceleration. Subaru claims the S209 can go from to sixty mph in 4.9 seconds, which is much more than doable, and completely hilarious.

Large acceleration calls for major braking, as effectively. The Brembo stoppers do a fantastic job below, with upgraded high-friction pads and a linear pedal really feel that dares me to brake later on and later on into every turn. Sure, these pads are a little bit noisy and dust collects in the wheel wells, but these brakes present no indicators of fade. Up front you may uncover thirteen.4-inch discs with six-piston calipers, when out back the S209 uses 12.eight-inch rotors with twin-piston calipers. All four discs are ventilated and cross-drilled to keep things as cool as probable.

The S209 has a neat little trick up its hood scoop: an intercooler mister. What would typically be a paddle shifter alternatively directs water onto the heat exchanger. Cooler air suggests much more of it can be pushed into the cylinders ensuing in a even larger bang and a little bit much more electric power less than your right foot. It really is not rather a, “Strike the Nos, Jim” amount of boost. But if you are racing, each little little bit can help.

The inside is largely the exact as the normal STI, conserve for these magnificent Recaro seats.


The EPA gives the STI S209 a gas financial system score of fifteen miles for every gallon metropolis, 21 mpg freeway and 17 mixed. These are not fantastic figures, and there is in reality a $1,000 gas guzzler tax — which Subaru of America pays. Having said that, even immediately after a 7 days of driving this issue on the pipe, I stop up matching the EPA’s mixed variety. So go ahead, drive it like you stole it.

Inside, the S209 gets a few upgrades to established it aside from lesser WRX STIs. The Recaro front seats are heated, and they’re concluded in ultrasuede, as is the steering wheel. The cloth soaks up the sweat my palms are pushing out when I pilot this road-lawful race motor vehicle, which is helpful but also form of gross. There are a few S209 badges sprinkled all over the cabin, but other than that, the inside is rather substantially like each other STI — useful, but that’s it.

Infotainment obligations are managed by Subaru’s Starlink software program on a seven-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Car bundled. Starlink is rather great and normally intuitive, but it won’t maintain a candle to the refined, function-laden programs you may uncover in other functionality sedans. On top rated of that, there are no driver-aid programs to talk of, conserve for cruise control. If technology is what you want, go get an Audi RS3 with adaptive cruise control and the tremendous-slick Digital Cockpit gauge cluster.

As its identify suggests, only 209 of these STIs will be offered in the US.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

An Audi could appear to be like a league higher than the Subaru, but believe in me, it just isn’t. The S209 expenses $sixty four,880, including $885 for desired destination, putting it right in German activity sedan territory. The RS3 commences at $57,195, including $995 for desired destination. Heck, even a BMW M2 Competitiveness with much more than four hundred hp commences less than $sixty,000.

You could imagine that’d make the S209 a tough offer, but that’s not always the scenario. Neither the Audi or BMW are as raucous as the S209. Heck, the RS3 is only supplied with a twin-clutch transmission, which could be smoother, but absolutely requires absent from the included involvement you get with the S209’s six-speed manual transmission. The M2 Competitiveness absolutely is rambunctious, but general significantly much more refined. And in the stop, what I like most about the STI S209 is truly its deficiency of refinement.

In a entire world exactly where several functionality vehicles appear to be like they need to have to be all things to all persons, the S209 is just a pure, rockin’ excellent time. It really is blissfully free of charge from digital intervention and limitless options. The S209 is a motor vehicle that just would like to be driven. Tough.

Maria J. Danford

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