What it Is
Subaru WRX STI Preview – 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: New body style. New engine. New features. Put it all together and one might think that Subaru is trying to STIck it to the competition. Bad pun? Yes. Great WRX STI? Quite possibly. Making its North American debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI loses last year’s sedan style in exchange for a five-door configuration and gets a few more ponies eeked out of its 2.5-liter boxer engine.
Let the new EVO/STI battle commence.
Why it Matters
The number of wholly impressive turbocharged small cars is on the rise, including such names as Mazdaspeed3 and GTI. But those rides don’t quite measure up to all-wheel-drive and more powerful contenders like the Mitsubishi Evo and the Subaru WRX STI. The current Subie has a solid following, but with strong competition including the new Evo there’s no room for complacency. The ’08 WRX STI, offering a bold look and 305 horsepower, suggests that Subaru is well-poised to defend its position in the pack.
What’s Under the Hood
A turbocharged 2.5-liter four-banger producing 305 hp at 6,000 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm lives under the hood, featuring dual overhead cams and 16 valves. Drivers with mad clutch skills will likely have some fun ripping through the manual transmission’s six cogs, especially when the SI-DRIVE system’s more aggressive setting is selected. The S# (Sport Sharp) setting provides the most immediate dump of full power, S (Sport) doles out power in a more linear fashion, and the I (Intelligent) mode cuts maximum power in the name of efficiency.
What it Looks Like
Lots of words come to mind upon first glance of the redesigned WRX STI, words like aggressive, muscular, flared, creased, and most obvious, sporty. You’ll notice that subtle didn’t make the cut, as the STI’s bulging wheelwells, scoops and vents aplenty, and sizeable wheels serve to tell all that this is anything but a run-of-the-mill Impreza. Inside is a three-spoke sport steering wheel behind which rest red-illuminated gauges, alloy foot pedals, a navigation system, and top-notch materials akin to those found in current models such as the Legacy spec.B.
What Subaru Says
“The new WRX STI was developed with the eternal theme and essence of the driver’s car, the ‘total driving control’ that the preceding WRX STI models also pursued. This AWD sports model gives maximum driving pleasure through its combination of power, performance, handling and ride capabilities thanks to engineering exclusively designed for the WRX STI and its five-door package. It also balances excellent safety and environmental aspects at a high level.”
What We Think
We’re betting that in terms of driving dynamics the new STI will be one to beat. Performance is enhanced by boosting the horsepower to 305 and achieving peak torque 400 rpm earlier than the previous model, while the SI-DRIVE system has the potential to improve everyday drivability (using I mode). That just leaves style, an aspect of the Subaru WRX STI we find to be more than a bit overdone.
Photo Credit: Vernon Heywood and Subaru