For big-time Subaru diehards, it’s been tough over the years to see limited-run, special-edition WRX STIs from Japan that were never destined for U.S. shores. It turns out, however, that Subaru was listening to those cries for even hotter STIs for North American fans.
Just announced at the 2019 Detroit auto show, Subaru is building U.S.-only STI S209 boasting 341 horsepower and a cadre of race-car-worthy performance kit. The first truly “STI-built” performance cars ever to be sold in America, “around” 200 examples of the S209 will arrive in showrooms.
Yet again, the long-lived EJ-series 2.5-liter turbo-four powers this unique STI. A larger turbine and compressor in the S209’s STI turbocharger yield 18 psi of boost pressure compared to 16.2 psi in the standard car, adding up to 31 more horses for 341 total. Other improvements include a high-flow intake, intercooler water spray system, higher-flow fuel pump, larger injectors, and more.
STI has been building special S-line variants since the S201 in 2000—most recently the 2008 S208. The new S209 is, at least in part, related to the WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge race car. Both the production S209 and the race car wear a widebody kit, which increases the S209’s width by 1.7 inches compared to a standard WRX STI. Of course, the all-important gold 19-inch BBS aluminum wheels wear summer-only Dunlop tires for more than 1.0G of lateral grip. Brembo brakes provide improved stopping power with cross-drilled rotors, six-piston front calipers, two-piston rear calipers, and upgraded high-friction front pads.
Handling goodies include reinforcements for the front crossmember and rear subframe, just as in the race car. Add to that Bilstein dampers, stiffer springs, a 20-mm rear stabilizer bar, a flexible front-strut tower bar, and a whole bunch of aerodynamic kit for increased downforce and stability.
And don’t worry—WR Blue paint will be one of the color options, paired with gray wheels.