7 alternatives to Subaru’s $65K STI S209

Earlier this week Subaru announced pricing for the forthcoming STI S209 sports car, the first of the legendary S-line performance vehicles to be sold stateside.

You might wanna sit down for this: MSRP for the limited-edition vehicle will be just shy of $65,000. That’s before the inevitable dealer mark-ups that seem to be part and parcel with any vehicle garnering a following any bit north of ambivalent.

I know what you’re thinking. “My neighbor’s delinquent son Derek is always bragging about his STI, how could he possibly afford one at this price point?” Well, Derek is almost certainly bragging about a normie STI, which stickers for roughly half of what this S209 will cost, pre-dealer gouging.

Subaru S209

The S209 is part of a vaunted lineage of Japan-only, S-line Subarus that forms the upper echelon of tuner performance. It boasts 341 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer engine, special lightweight BBS forged alloy wheels (in gold, of course), and reworked body components to boost aerodynamic and cooling performance.

Worth it? Depends who you ask. The car is sure to be a corker, and it’s neat to see Subaru appease what has, until now, been fruitless longing across the Pacific.

But it doesn’t matter. Subaru will sell all of them. The auto industry has proved receptive to limited-edition, ultra-halo cars like this. There’s enough Subaru fanboys out there with money from their latest “disruption” to pluck each and every one of these off the market, markup be damned.

We won’t attempt to dissuade you from buying the S209. If you’ve got a spot in line for an S209, you’re a customer who knows their own mind. In an automotive world fraught with ambivalence, here’s to you. We’re just helping you keep your head on a swivel.

If you remain open to persuasion and are reading this, $65K wad of cash in hand, wondering whether you too should spring for the über-ru, here are seven alternatives.

2020 Corvette C8

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Yep—that C8. For S209 money, you can get a mid-engined, V-8 powered car. You’ll be missing some of the tastiest features, (plus, thanks to the UAW strike, there’s no telling when it will finally arrive), but it cannot be overstated how much car the C8 Corvette is, even in base 1LT trim. You’ll get dual-zone climate control, keyless access, LED lighting, and more. Did we mention the LT2 V-8? The one behind you? The 1LT C8 Corvette starts at just $59,995, so there’s even room to add a few options. The Z51 Performance Package costs just $5000, and although it doesn’t come with the sublime Magnetic Selective Ride Control, it still adds considerable mechanical gains to a car that should already lay waste to the S209 on track.

2019 BMW M2 Competition

M2 Comp

The BMW M2 Competition features a 405-hp, twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six capable of lighting off the rear tires at any moment. It’s a handful of a car, but when tamed, it can be a corker. Whereas BMW used to be the final word in balance and handling, recent generations of BMWs have offered a different, more power-focused solution to on-track pace. With only necessary options, this car comes in just under $65K.

2020 Camaro SS 1LE

Chevy SS 1LE

If the M2 Competition is now a blunt object for track warfare, consider the Camaro SS 1LE a scalpel—albeit a large one. The 1LE track package is the perfect add-on to an already athletic car to keep track performance high and running costs (relatively) low. Not to mention, a modestly-optioned SS 1LE is going to cost right around $45K, meaning you’ve got money to blow on track days, extra tires, and a vacation or two.

2020 Toyota Supra

2020 Toyota Supra

If you’re bent on a ride from the Land of the Rising Sun, perhaps a Supra will be more to your liking… or maybe it won’t, because it’s not from Japan any more than I’m from Seattle because I wear a mesh Patagonia trucker hat to work sometimes. Still, at around 54-large, the car comes in well under the S209’s $65K and is brilliant on- and off-track.

2019 Shelby GT350

Ford Shelby GT350

Amidst the pantheon of compelling engines, the 5.2-liter, flat-plane-crank Voodoo V-8 stuffed into Ford’s Shelby GT350 reigns supreme. Revving to an operatic 8250-rpm redline, it never seems to run out of huff or shout. Option-free it squeaks in just north of $61,000, and with the technology package (the goldilocks package in most Blue Oval offerings), you’re still shy of $64K. Drop a gear and let it scream.

2018 Audi RS3

Audi RS3

If the S209’s rally lineage is the big appeal, the Audi RS3 might be the Kolsch-soaked remedy. The RS3 is snorty, wicked fast, and with the right options, a riot to drive. Go cheap with the interior and exterior bits—modest paint, stock interior fittings (which are quite good to start) and then check the everliving out of the Dynamic Package. It brings the RS3’s bulldog-like reverse-staggered wheel setup, with 255/30 fronts and 235/35 rears. With a little cash to spare, you can tick the box for the Technology package, bringing Audi’s amazing Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster.

Mazda Miata MX-5 Cup

Mazda MX5 Cup Car

This is the only real answer. You threw rationale out the window long ago—you’re considering a $65,000 Subaru STI, dude

Now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, go get a Cup car. They’re absolutely brilliant to drive, able to teach you more than you claim to know about pace on track, and we know the S209 wasn’t going to be your only car anyways. You can buy a fully-prepped, brand new MX-5 Cup car for less than $60K, meaning the leftover change could be used to enter a race or two.

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