- Shares redesign with base Impreza
- Unique exterior styling
- Offered as a 4-door wagon
- Seating for 5
- Standard all-wheel drive (AWD)
- Turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
- Driver selectable traction, throttle, and AWD settings
- Sales to start in first quarter 2008
IntroductionSubaru introduced a performance version of its Impreza compact called the WRX STI in Japan in 1994. Developed by Subaru Tecnica International (STI), the company's motorsports arm, the car quickly earned a reputation for success in World Rally Championship competition, winning the WRC Manufacturers' championship three straight years from 1995 to 1997. Subaru brought the second-generation model to the United States for the 2004 model year, offering it only as a 4-door sedan, while other Imprezas, including the WRX, were also available as wagons.
Subaru has redesigned the Impreza for 2008, and at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Subaru introduced the third-generation of the Impreza WRX STI as a 2008 model. At Tokyo, the STI was shown as only a wagon and all of the information released was for the Japanese home market model. Still, much of the information is pertinent to the U.S. version, which will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and is due to hit U.S. showrooms in the first quarter of 2008.
Model LineupThe last STI available in the U.S. was offered in two models: STI and STI Limited. The Japanese version is offered as a well-equipped single model that most likely corresponds to the STI Limited. Standard features on the Japan-market edition include a vehicle information center; front bucket seats; leather and Alcantara upholstery; folding second-row seats; power tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel; retractable headlight washers; anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer; remote keyless entry; power doors, windows and locks; fog lights; and Bridgestone RE050A P245/40R18 tires on aluminum alloy wheels. Also standard is Hill Start Assist, which holds the brakes for one second after they are released to aid starts on hilly roads. Options include Recaro bucket seats, BBS-brand wheels, and a hard-disk drive radio and navigation system that holds songs and navigation map information. Exterior colors are Obsidian Black Pearl, Pure White, Spark Silver Metallic, Dark Gray metallic, Lightning Red, Midnight Blue Pearl, and WR Blue Mica.
HardwareThe Japanese edition of the STI has a horizontally opposed 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 304 hp at 6400 rpm and 311 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. Expect the U.S. model to use an updated version of the 2.5-liter boxer 4-cylinder engine that made 293 hp at 6000 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm in the 2007 model. Expect both power numbers to reach 300. The lone transmission will likely be the same 6-speed manual used in the Japanese model.
All-wheel drive will also return as standard equipment, as will limited-slip front and rear differentials. The AWD system is rear-biased and paired with Subaru's Driver's Control Center Differential (DCCD), which allows for control of the center differential. A strut-type front suspension returns with lower arms and a stabilizer bar made of aluminum. At the rear, the STI adopts a double wishbone independent suspension. Compared to the previous model STI, the track is wider front and rear and the wheels are pushed farther to the corners. Subaru also says the body structure is stiffer.
DesignThe 2008 STI is generally a larger car than the model it replaces. At 173.5 inches long, the new STI is actually 2.3 inches shorter than the previous model. However, the 103.2-inch wheelbase is almost four inches longer than that of the outgoing model and the car is also almost four inches wider. The exterior differs from the standard WRX with a large rear wing, wider front and rear fenders with pronounced flares, a larger lower front air intake flanked by air vents, and unique 18-inch alloy wheels.
SafetyStandard safety features on the 2008 WRX STI include dual-stage front air bags, head-protecting curtain side air bags that cover both seating rows, and front seat-mounted torso-protecting side-impact air bags. Also standard are anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, and Subaru's Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (electronic stability control). VDC has three traction modes: Normal; Traction, which allows for more aggressive driving; and Off, which turns off the VDC and traction control but still uses the ABS.
TechnologySubaru's Driver Control Center Differential has one manual and three automatic modes. The automatic modes are tuned for regular driving, performance driving, and driving on slippery surfaces. The manual mode allows the driver to choose from various settings and send up to 50 percent of the power to the front wheels.
The 2008 Impreza WRX STI also has Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), which offers three levels of throttle response. A rotary dial on the center console allows the driver to choose among Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp modes. Intelligent mode is the most relaxed and is best for fuel economy. Sport mode quickens throttle response, and Sport Sharp has the quickest throttle response and boosts engine output to deliver maximum torque.
Ratings for the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI