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2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

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The 2014 STI risks getting lost in the shuffle of the next-gen WRX ’s launch at this fall’s Los Angeles auto show . As is customary for Subaru when upgrading the Impreza -based models, the next-gen STI will follow the regular WRX as a projected 2016 model year intro.

That is more than enough time to fall in love again with the current model’s brash styling, forceful turbocharged power delivery, and better tech integration in the cockpit than ever before. 305 horsepower and a 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph means the WRX STI is still a favorite here in the TopSpeed Garage .

Introduced for 2011, the current STI’s strength as a Subaru performance flagship is fully intact. As a low-volume model, its boxer rumble casts a performance glow over even the base $18,000 Impreza sedan. No changes to the STI for 2014, aside from the audio system now offering integration of Aha’s music app.

First-hand driving impressions of this track toy are included, as are comparisons with the WRX STI’s potent competition from the BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution .

Click past the jump for the full TopSpeed Garage review of the 2014 Subaru WRX STI, still a game-changer with wild turbo boost and AWD traction to make every corner seem like a straightaway.

Driving Impressions

Exterior

Available as both a sedan and a hatchback, the WRX STI is a premium-looking sports car with its rich white paint from the test example. Huge fenders give the Subaru the squat look of a weight lifter, while the upright glasshouse is still a charming contrast to the performance kit visible down below.

When launched, this model seemed to ditch most of the old Impreza ’s characterful traits like the frameless windows in the doors and pillars as narrow as toothpicks. After some time on the market, the charm of the Impreza shape is still very visible in the latest model. With Subaru’s hit and miss track record on the styling front, the 2014 WRX STI may prove to be one of the most attractive in its model history.

The sedan wears a giant wing spoiler out back to announce its speed to other traffic, and that spoiler and the STI badges are one of the main differences between the STI sedan and the lower-level WRX sedan. While this offers an incredible image boost for WRX owners, the STI would benefit from more differentiation for its $10,000 price increase.

The hatch wears clear LED taillights that are not aging gracefully, but both models are just as tough and macho-looking versus normal compact cars. The optional BBS alloys are a nice treat, both for their style and their strength over bumps. BBS makes some of the strongest forged alloy wheels available, which is extra important on low-profile performance tires.

Cast alloys on many performance cars are quite susceptible to potholes, which can bend a flat spot in the wheel that makes a car extremely irritating to drive.

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Exterior Dimensions:

Wheelbase (in.) 103.3
Length (in.) 173.8 (4-Door 180.3)
Width (in.) 70.7
Height (in.) 58.1
Front Track Width (in.) 60.2
Rear Track Width (in.) 60.6
Curb Weight (Pounds) 3,384
Drag Coefficient 0.35, est

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Exterior Features:

  • Wide body design in 5-door hatch or 4-door sedan body styles
  • 18x8.5-in. cast aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Integrated hood scoop supplies outside air to intercooler

5-Door adds:

  • Cargo area cover, light and tie-down hooks
  • Clear tail light lenses and LED tail lights
  • Rear window wiper with washer
  • STI-type rear gate spoiler
  • 18-inch BBS alloy wheels
  • Fog Lights

Limited (4-door only) adds:

  • 18-inch BBS alloy wheel

Interior

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The interior is very focused with high-back racing buckets and a compact, leather-wrapped and STI-badged wheel in hand. The six-speed box is perfectly placed with a stubby shift lever just ahead of the DCCD differential and stability control settings.

Heated seats, special STI décor and an illuminated STI logo in the gauge cluster all remind you of this car’s performance potential. Visibility is very good toward the back versus most sports cars, but the front pillars are wider than ideal for a rally special.

The hatch offers a far larger trunk area, from the sedan’s 11.3 cubic-feet to 19 cubic-feet with the seats up. Both cars get folding back seats, which is a welcome addition versus previous STI models whose trunks were filled with chassis bracing and did not allow a folding seat. With the hatch’s seats down, the luggage total climbs to 45 cubic-feet, which is almost crossover territory. Certainly plenty of room for bikes, kite-boards or other active lifestyle gear.

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Interior Dimensions:

Seating Capacity - Front 2
Seating Capacity - Rear 3
Headroom (In.) - Front 40.3
Headroom (In.) - Rear 37.6
Legroom (In.) - Front 43.5
Legroom (In.) - Rear 33.5
Shoulder room (In.) - Front 54.8
Shoulder room (In.) - Rear 53.2
Hip room (In.) - Front NA
Hip room (In.) - Rear NA
Trunk capacity (cubic-feet) - 4-Door 11.3
Trunk capacity (cubic-feet) - Hatch Seats Up 19
Trunk capacity (cubic-feet) - Hatch Seats Down 44.4

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Interior Features:

  • 3-spoke leather-wrapped STI steering wheel with buttons for cruise control, audio system and Bluetooth
  • 60/40 split fold down rear seatback
  • Aluminum-alloy pedal covers
  • All-Weather Package: heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icer
  • AM/FM premium stereo with single-disc in-dash CD player and 6 speakers, MP3/WMA capability, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, iPod control capability, USB port, XM/SIRIUS Satellite Radio capability and 3.5mm auxiliary audio input jack
  • Automatic climate control system with cabin air filtration
  • Carpeted floor mats
  • Cruise control
  • Electroluminescent instrument panel gauges
  • HID headlights (low beams)
  • Incline Start Assist with cancel feature
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob and parking brake handle
  • Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)
  • Performance-design front seats with integral head restraints; height adjustable driver’s seat
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Remote keyless entry system
  • Tilt-and-telescope steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls

Navigation Package includes:
- Navigation screen: 6.1-in. LCD and Voice activated controls
- Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free phone connectivity
- USB port and iPod control capability, iTunes tagging capability

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The STI’s performance is still impressive, as 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque deliver 60 mph sprints in 4.7 seconds before hitting a limited top speed of 155 mph. Achieving these numbers takes practice and some bravery, as the 2.5-liter boxer needs a clutch drop from about 6,000 rpm to get the turbo spooling prior to launch.

The launch can be marked by violent diff lock and wheelspin, which typically means one hell of a good time. But it can also be marked by a bogged engine and a moment of panic as the other car jumps to an early lead; such is the life of a single-turbo engine.

Turbo lag is most pronounced at low revs, of course, but a quick downshift is all the engine needs to rocket you forward.

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Mechanical Features:

  • Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) with three performance modes, in addition to six manual differential locking-control settings. Normal power split is 41:59 for handling agility; mechanical limited-slip type center differential augments electronically controlled differential
  • Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) allows driver to select level of stability and traction control intervention, or turn it off
  • Helical gear-type limited-slip front differential and TORSEN torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential
  • Brembo Performance Brake System employs ventilated 4-wheel disc brakes with 4-piston calipers in front and dual-piston calipers in the rear. Combination of Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Super Sport Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) helps to enhance stability under hard braking
  • Performance-directed design features wide-body front fenders and rear quarter panels, body-color STI-design bumper fascias, rear gate spoiler (trunk spoiler on new 4-door) and side engine heat outlets and aerodynamic ground effects side molding
  • Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) variable valve timing controls both intake and exhaust valves. Engine produces 305 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. peak torque @ 4,000 rpm.
  • 6-speed manual transmission with triple-cone synchronizers on 1st and 2nd, double-cone on 3rd gear.
  • Double-wishbone rear suspension
  • Inverted-strut front suspension with forged aluminum-alloy lower L-arms with pillow ball type rear bushings

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Performance Details:

Engine 2.0-liter Turbocharged 16-valve H-4 With DOHC And CVVT
Transmission 6-Speed Manual
Power 305 horsepower
Torque 290 pound-feet
0-60 mph 4.7 seconds, est
Top Speed 155 mph
EPA Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 17/23/19

Safety

The WRX STI offers a full suite of advanced airbags and electronic safety systems to keep drivers healthy in the event of a crash. The multi-mode center diff and stability control settings are helpful when the weather gets slick, but generally the AWD is unstoppable and very sure-footed in bad conditions.

Summer tires and lots of power still means caution is needed on slick surfaces. Speeding up is no problem, but slowing down is a little trickier. STI Super Sport ABS is an advancement not shared with the cheaper WRX.

2014 Subaru WRX STI - Safety Features:

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Brake Assist, ABS and EBD
  • Stability control
  • Antitheft security system with engine immobilizer
  • Subaru advanced frontal airbag system, front seat side impact air bags and side-curtain air Bags
  • 24-hour roadside assistance for new-car limited warranty period

Pricing

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The STI is priced from $35,000 up to $38,000 for the Limited sedan.

2014 Impreza WRX STI MSRP
Sedan $34,495
Hatch $36,495
Limited Sedan $37,845

Competition

BMW 135i

BMW 1-Series Coupe and Convertible Lifestyle Editions

The 135i is just as fast as the Subaru but has much more torque, a rear-drive layout and an optional automatic box. Entry pricing is actually below the STI, but tempting M Sport and options can push the BMW into the $40,000 range.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

The Evo is also quite pricey these days, with a $35,000 GSR base model lacking much of the up-level equipment from the $39,000 MR trim. Things like the xenon projector lamps are MR-exclusives, as is the TC-SST paddle shift transmission.

Conclusion

Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The STI is such a great car that it should always be celebrated, even after the launch buzz has died down and people are getting hyped about the next model in the pipeline.

The beauty of the STI is that it is here in its sharpest suit, ready to take on with all comers in the competitive world of $35,000 performance cars. Away from the stoplight drag races, the WRX STI is a thoroughly engineered and entertaining car to drive.

Every boring commute becomes an adventure, your eyes watching the boost gauge’s rhythmic swing t0 16 PSI just as a gap opens in traffic. A quick downshift, the boxer rumble and a turbo hiss is all the STI needs to rocket passed just about anything.

LOVE IT
  • Looks great as a sedan in white
  • TopSpeed Garage just got a lot cooler
  • Performance and acceleration a constant source of fun
LEAVE IT
  • Fuel economy suffers dramatically with energetic driving, single digits possible on track
  • Nav and audio system not very good
  • Wish the STI sedan looked more unique versus cheaper WRX sedan


What is your take?

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