Driven: 2017 Subaru WRX STi Review
Although we’re late to the party, we’ve got our hands on the famous boy racer. Cue the 2017 Subaru WRX STi.
What is the Subaru WRX STi all About?
The Impreza WRX STI is the most well-known car to ever come out of the Fuji Heavy Industry (they plan to change their name to Subaru Corporation though). When it first came out, it shocked the world.
For your money, you’d get a cracking four pot engine with a small turbo attached to it, forcing more air into the horizontally-opposed engine. It’d then drive all four wheels through a notchy manual.
The results speak for themselves. Subaru introduced the Impreza to replace their ageing Legacy rally platform, bringing incredible success. The combination of the Subaru and Prodrive developed chassis brought light to some of the greatest drivers to grace the world: Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, and Richard Burns.
After the 3 WRC victories though, people argued that Subaru has softened up. And today, with their latest creation, I’m set to find out.
One thing to note is that the new WRX STI has dropped the ‘Impreza’ badge, so it is now known as the Subaru WRX STi. It’s an effort to distance this turbocharged rally breed from the normal, much more civilised Impreza.
The 2017 Subaru WRX STi was quite controversial during its launch. For one thing, many people said it looks like its rival, the Lancer Evolution X. Some just didn’t like it’s appearance.
However, like fine wine, this look is starting to grow on me. I didn’t have an opinion at the beginning, but having seen it in person, I can safely say I love the car’s stance. It sits lower, wider and meaner than the previous STi saloon.
Of course, that means throwing away some of its rally pedigree. But let’s be honest: most buyers aren’t going to be putting this car on gravel all the time, and a lower ride will hence be much more beneficial in the long run.
Subaru has put some sense into the WRX STi too. For example, the hood scoop is much sleeker and lower, for improved visibility. However, the big, rear spoiler remains. It still has a large gaping mouth and the red STi badge still sits proudly on the grille. It even has big 18″ alloys that hides the massive discs and Brembos, as per STi tradition.
Previous STi owners will find déjà vu in the engine bay. This is the biggest disappointment for most, as the powerplant remains to be the dated, decade old EJ257, 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer 4. This means roughly 300 hp and 407 Nm of torque. Still, it’s not exactly tinny, just that the STi’s stagnancy in the power department means that its opposition had time to catch up.
The STi is only available with a six-speed manual with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. It manages 0-60mph run in 5.2 seconds, onto a top speed of 159 mph. It won’t make it as Greenpeace’s company car either, as it achieves 27.2 mpg combined and puts out 242 g/km of CO2.
How Does it Drive?
This is where the 2017 Subaru WRX STi can truly stretch its legs.
Subaru is keen on pointing out that all the improvements made to this new STi is all on the inside. The car company has stiffened up the chassis, firmed up the suspension, and quickened up the steering. Additionally, it has torque vectoring, LSD and clever electronic brakes (more on that later).
Now, the WRX STi is not slow by any means. It has 300 horses under the bonnet. It’ll get from naught to sixty in just over 5 seconds — that’s quick by any means. The car pulls really strong, but the bulk of it actually starts to deliver at 4000 rpm. This is when the turbo kicks in and you can feel it shift.
The STi has a close-ratio gearbox, so it feels good throwing the gears around. The transmission allows for short bursts of acceleration throughout. The 0-62 mph time is slower than the previous model, yes, but this is because there’s an additional gear you need to shift to before 62 mph. Essentially, you trade bragging rights for better drivability!
And that’s the main thing that Subaru is trying so hard to push. They’re trying to make a more refined STi, much to the dismay of the purists.
It gets even better in the corners. This is where you really feel what Subaru is bragging about. The car grips, grips, grips and grips even more! The whole chassis is sorted out stupendously, body roll is kept to a minimum, and there is some properly magical electronics working in tandem with the driver.
The combination of limitless grip and staggering steering feel means that the 2017 Subaru WRX STi darts around like a mosquito.
In addition, the brakes are still amazing. They’re 4 pots on the front and 2 pots on the rear, which bite hard and stop this 1.5 tonnes car well. The discs are massive, so cooling shouldn’t be a problem either. Furthermore, these Brembos can distribute brake pressure all around to further keep the car in check.
It should be said though, if you’re expecting some sort of ride comfort…well, you won’t find any here. The previous STi already had this problem, and with even stiffer springs on the new one, you can only imagine.
What’s it Like Inside?
Subaru has been making efforts to refresh and update the new STi’s interior. One thing I particularly liked in this 2017 version are the bucket seats. They’re actually quite comfortable and hug you nicely while cornering.
They’ve also added soft touch materials to some of the trims, and the steering wheel is especially nice with the sporty red stitching. The instrument panels are analog, simple and very red as well. There’s a centre digital screen to feed information to the driver on the road though.
The radio unit feels dated. However, the 4.3″ colour display on the dash is quite useful; it feeds more intricate information regarding the drivetrain operation and intake manifold pressure.
There’s plenty of space for passengers, and the boot is decently sized at 460 litres. If you need more, you can always fold the rear seats. Overall, it’s heads and shoulders above the previous iterations, but still needs attention compared to the competition.
The new WRX STi is an absolute joy to ride. The bucket seats, the red scattered around the interior, the well thought out pedal placement, and the gigantic rear spoiler; this vehicle is just begging you to drive it hard. Again, the people who are going to buy this model are more likely to be an enthusiast of the car than not.
Is the WRX STi still class leading anymore? Even though the Evo is dead, there are still plenty of hot hatchbacks out there that are nipping on its heels, especially the new Ford Focus RS which is a serious contender to the Subaru.
The 2017 Subaru WRX STi however, is still hugely impressive. The performance around corners is just mind boggling. It remains to be one of the most capable sports compact you can get today, and really, you can’t go wrong with one.
2017 Subaru WRX STi Review
- Price: £28,995
- Engine: 2.5-litre horizontally opposed turbocharged flat-4 petrol
- Power: 296 hp
- Torque: 407 Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
- 0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
- Top speed: 159 mph
- Weight: 1,509 kg
- Economy: 27.2 mpg
- CO2: 242 g/km