Monday, January 24, 2011
2011 Impreza WRX STI Reviews
The STI sedan returns and retunes with suspension upgrades.
In the wake of the news that all 2011 Impreza WRXs would be getting wider tracks and STI-inspired wide-body styling, we figured the nails were already being driven into the STI’s coffin.
The upgrades made to create the 2010 STI Special Edition were only the beginning; the ’11 STI goes further with an even more aggressive suspension to reduce body roll and create more neutral handling. After our time in the STI Special Edition, we’re pretty confident this new STI will make good on its promise of improved handling. That thing we said about the STI being killed?
However, when the current car was launched in five-door hatchback form only for 2008, it polarized opinion, especially among Subaru enthusiasts. Well Impreza diehards, for 2011, Subaru has relented; reintroducing said bodystyle for the STI and one that quite appropriately has that monster wing mounted on the rear. It also gives the four-door a higher top speed than its hatchback counterpart (160 versus 155 mph).
Combined with the bulging fenders (the rears are noticeably more pronounced on the sedan) plus an aggressive (and functional) front air dam, the result harkens back to the golden age of Japanese performance cars and is very much a boy-racer look. Although the driveline remains essentially unchanged – the 2011 Impreza WRX STI is powered by the same 305 horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four; delivering the same meaty 290 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm – the suspension and tire upgrades result in a car that feels even quicker than before, especially through the corners.
Aided by the symmetrical all-wheel drive system and three differentials - helical limited slip front; Torsen rear and Driver Controlled Center Diff (which still allows the torque split to be adjusted manually from 50/50 to 30/70 front/rear), the 2011 STI is tremendous fun and grip seems almost never ending.
This truly is a serious performance car you can drive every day, no matter the distance or how bad the weather gets.
For years, the Subaru WRX has been one of the world's least pretentious performance buys. In either sedan or hatchback trim, the car has presented itself as a conservative economy car. Meanwhile, the car's big brother – the WRX STI – has been fitted with a completely reworked suspension and an all-new four-door body style.
"We managed to increase the track of the WRX by nearly 1.5 inches," says Martyn Harding, Impreza car line manager for Subaru North America. In reality, Subaru has spread the WRX by 1.3 inches compared to the 2010 model—a big number by anyone's count—thanks solely to the car's wild new bodywork.
Mated to a five-speed manual transmission and an all-wheel drive system, the combination returns 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Likewise, the WRX STI retains its old engine, though it produces a more muscular 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. Though the added width and wider wheels and tires (now up to 17 x 8 inches on all four corners) help to keep the car planted, we couldn't help but notice that the extra grip simply makes the driver more aware of the car's softer springs and dampers compared to the WRX STI.
While we can praise both the WRX and "WRX STI" all day long for their driving characteristics on a curvy strip of mountain pavement, neither is exactly designed for a buyer looking for a tomb-like luxury ride. The price of a low(ish) curb weight and sports car track prowess is a somewhat noisy cabin.