Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2014 Subaru WRX STi.
So, a regular turbo-charged/AWD Subaru WRX isn’t enough for you? Then luckily you have another option – the WRX STi.
Packing a larger 2.5 litre turbo-charged boxer engine, the STi grade takes performance and road presence to a whole other level!
Priced from $49,990, the Subaru WRX STi is manual only and you get a very healthy 221kW and 407Nm to play with. It’s all-wheel drive of course and you get the much more extreme body kit – including the huge rear spoiler.
So, what’s it like on the road? Well, I’ve heard some people describe this grade of WRX as a little too-much for regular use. But you know what, I don’t agree.
Sure, the suspension is firm and the transmission and steering is race car like stiff. But, with three discernible drive modes I reckon I could live with it as a day-to-day car. Interestingly, though the WRX rides low to the ground, I didn’t have any issues with scraping on driveways or speed bumps.
Just on those drive modes – the regular/normal setting provides a more sedate torque curve and a more forgiving ride. Wind it up to Sport Sharp mode and things get much more extreme. I must admit – I spent the vast majority of my time in the full-on setting!
How does it go? Well, there is some turbo-lag but it only takes a moment or two for the boxer engine to really get things moving on. In all, acceleration and sheer grunt – very pleasing.
The six-speed gearbox feels great and the grip in the corners and the brakes - astonishing!
But the best part of the new Subaru WRX STi is the chassis. I have never come across such a tight body – there literally is no flex in the chassis and that means when cornering the WRX feels secure and reassuring – in all it really feels like a little tank!
Inside the cabin it’s a perfect combo of race and comfort. The sports seats are generously sized and comfortable, I love the sports steering wheel and the gauges, and the sports themed driver info screens too.
There’s a nice array of suede covered areas and carbon-fibre and everything fits and feels top-notch. Most importantly – despite the firm suspension and stiff chassis, the interior is quiet and I didn’t notice any rattles or squeaks.
I also enjoyed the little front quarter windows; they really take you on a trip back in time. Perhaps the only thing I would change about the cabin is the centre arm rest; it’s just a touch too low to really rest your arm on.
Visibility is good all-round – though the rear wing can be a distraction in the rear-view mirror.
Leg room is pretty good front and back and the boot is well-sized. Everything is well-placed and things such as the climate control adjustments are simple and easy to use.
The 2014 Subaru WRX range comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up: It may be about $50,000 but the WRX STi is actually good value for money. Offering comparable performance and handling with vehicles that cost more than twice as much it is an awful lot of fun. It also generates a lot of interest out on the roads!
The super-tight chassis, the serious feel of the transmission and steering, the brakes – it really is the whole package. Yes, you could drive the STi every day and I reckon if you’re going to get a WRX you had may as well go all the way!!
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.5 litre turbo-petrol producing 221kW and 407Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual (only)
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: Three years
Price: From $49,990