Subaru’s new sport-compact monster is here and only for the U.S. market, unlike the past S20-something cars that preceded it, which were made just for Japan.
It may look familiar at first glance, but this S209 is a completely different animal than all the other WRX STIs you’ve seen before. It’s billed as the most powerful, most grippy and best braking WRX STI ever made for the U.S., and there’s a lot involved in making it that way. Here are all the notes we gathered from various PR folks and Subaru insiders about the new S209.
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The vehicle is going to be a limited production model, although the automaker is being coy about the exact numbers. “Around 200” units will be made, although it could be a few more or a few less depending on a number of variables. Since this car is practically hand built by STI, it is quite an undertaking to complete the work, and it starts on the underpinning of a 2019 WRX STI. The automaker explained that the car will be going into production later in the year, not immediately, so it might take a while to get up to speed, so if they meet the 200 units demand, that’s good, but there’s a potential for missing that target, too.
Race-Inspired Body Work
The WRX STI S209 is wilder than many Subaru fan’s starry-eyed dreams. Just look at its flared fenders, vents and spoiler and you’ll understand this is a serious speed machine that’s been inspired by the brand’s Nurburgring Challenge race cars. The car features a wider body and a wider track too. Those vents on the front fenders help with engine cooling, and the vents on the rear fenders can pacify turbulent air, which reduces drag. The car also features under spoilers as well as a lightweight carbon fiber roof and rear spoiler. All of that adds up to serious performance that’s perfected on the race track.
HUGE Exhaust Tips
The exhaust on this S209 is seriously upgraded. It’s lighter and features less internal resistance, which should bode well in terms of performance. The 101 mm exit tips are also downright massive, mimicking some of the STI’s most popular aftermarket accessories. It should also give the car a gnarly rumble, a signature of the rally-inspired sport compact.
Most Powerful WRX STI ever?
Subaru bills this as the most powerful STI ever, but that might be a claim that only works in North America, where there weren’t any super-special and extremely fast STIs ever offered. With 341 horsepower, this STI certainly is more powerful than the standard model, but Subaru fanboys may recall a South Africa-only model called the Diamond Edition, that made 260 kilowatts, or 349 horsepower if our conversions are correct. But that’s probably metric horsepower.
But that doesn’t mean the S209 won’t be fast. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this special edition get closer to the low-5s for a 60 MPH sprint (past models were around 5.7.) The old 22B and other special edition WRX STIs could get into the 4-second mark, which would be a highlight for this model.
It gets its extra power through a number of important upgrades, but most importantly there’s a new turbo from HKS that is bigger and provides more boost. The engine has also been beefed up while also getting a bit lighter too with forged pistons and connecting rods.
Super Sticky Special Tires
Helping to handle all that power is a specially developed tire from Dunlop called the SP Sport Maxx GT600A. Subaru says that the tires deserve a lot of credit for the car’s lateral grip, which has been measured at over 1 G. We can’t wait to see how these hold up to a track day.
GOLD WHEELS ARE BACK*
Even cooler than the special tires are the wheels, which are 19-inch BBS, but if you want the Gold finish, there’s a catch – you have to get the Crystal White Pearl paint finish for the car. If you want the World Rally Blue, you’re given gray versions of the signature BBS wheels. Talk about a tough choice!
How much will this crazy thing cost? Subaru is staying quiet about that for now, but let’s consider the last super special WRX STI that hit the U.S., the Type RA, which was limited to 575 units in North America (500 in the U.S. and 75 in Canada) and had a price of about $50,000. The S209 is much more limited and has more significant performance and handling upgrades, so it’s easy to understand if Subaru was going to charge more than $50k for this super special model. Either way, it seems like the modifications and exclusivity will be worth it.
And in case it wasn’t clear that this is a car built for Subaru super nerds, consider the fact that the S209 features an intercooler water spray system that lowers intercooler temperature via manually operated steering-wheel paddles. As intense as that sounds, it’s not the first time Subaru had a model with this feature – the 2004-2007 WRX STIs had this too.
This much performance and exclusivity could be hinting that we’re about to see the sunset on the current generation WRX STI. That’s total speculation, but the car is getting kind of old. The WRX was last updated in 2014, and analysts have been expecting a new model to appear sometimes in 2020. Check the calendar, that date is coming up soon!