You asked for it, you got it - say hello to the Six Stars’ latest big ‘n bad performance monster

Ever since Subaru offloaded the first WRX onto U.S. shores back in the early 2000’s, the brand has slowly but steadily built its performance cred among stateside buyers. Between stints in rally racing, road racing, and time attack, this turbocharged icon has achieved legendary status and is now a torchbearer for Japanese go-fast machinery. Thing is, Subaru’s success has lead to, for lack of a better word, stagnation. Luckily, the 2019 WRX STI S209 changes that in a very good way.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

The 2019 WRX STI S209 Is the Best Performance News From Subaru In a Long Time
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Note: 2003 Subaru WRX STI pictured here.

Ever since Mitsubishi gave the axe to the Lancer Evolution back in 2016, it’s been argued that the Subaru WRX has been in a bit of holding pattern, so to speak. Any why not? Without any clear and obvious competitor, the Six Stars has become the go-to answer for turbocharged AWD rally-bred speed in the U.S. As a result, Subaru hasn’t really needed to innovate all that much.

This is perhaps most obvious with the engine package in the current STI, which is still the same turbo 2.5-liter flat-four EJ257 as the previous generation, despite the standard WRX’s move to the new FA engine family. Indeed, the 2019 STI is using the same powerplant as the model that debuted back in 2003.

Sure, the exterior has seen a little massaging here and there, the interior is more comfortable, the infotainment tech is new, and the chassis is modernized, but really, the contemporary Subaru WRX STI is pretty much the same sedan that dropped more than 15 years ago. The performance is now a bit smoother and more refined, but the result is all-too familiar.

And that’s why the S209 is such a big deal.

The Subaru WRX Reveals Its Final Form?

The 2019 WRX STI S209 Is the Best Performance News From Subaru In a Long Time
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Mercifully, those of us residing stateside are finally getting a taste of what Subaru can really do with its performance-focused street machine.

JDM buyers have been enjoying the formula for years thanks to models like the S201 through S208, but now, for the first time ever, the Subaru “S” Series is headed to the U.S., offering the best handling, hardest braking, and fastest acceleration of any factory-built STI - evar.

Let’s start with the exterior, which comes bedazzled with a number of functional aerodynamics upgrades. Rest assured - that large GT-style wing bolted to the trunk isn’t just there for show, although the carbon fiber construction does look pretty tasty. Then there’s all those extra vents and intakes, plus four new canards on the lower front fascia to help it turn in at speed.

The S209 is also equipped with new flared-out fenders, which help to swallow the wider wheels and tires. Thanks to a track that’s now 0.6 inches wider in front and in back, plus the 265/35 Dunlop summer rubber, the S209 can hold the road at 1 G when turning hard.

The 2019 WRX STI S209 Is the Best Performance News From Subaru In a Long Time
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All-wheel drive grip is nice, but you gotta have the right suspension bits to make the most of it.

As such, the S209 comes with a host chassis upgrades, including new dampers from Bilstein, new springs, strut bars, extra bracing, and draw stiffners. This thing is tight, no doubt about it, which means the sticky rubber can really put in some work.

With the fresh aero and new suspension, we fully expect the S209 to handle like a dream. High-powered AWD sports cars tend to understeer pretty badly, and while the S209 will must likely still scrub the front end when you really push it, it’ll feel much more balanced than the standard car, especially on turn-in and on power at the exit. A little flick should get it to hang the ass out a bit as well.

The 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 Is the Tuner Special We've All Been Waiting For
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One of the most exciting upgrades can be found under that bulging hood scoop, where the usual turbocharged 2.5-liter engine receives a new intake and exhaust, a new turbo, and a water spray system for the intercooler. The internals also get beefier forged pistons and connecting rods. The end result is 341 horsepower, a 31-horse increase over the standard STI, plus a 10-percent increase in mid-range torque. And that’s significant in a platform that’s remained more or less static for 15 odd years.

Plus, if you need even more power, we think the S209’s built EJ could stand a few more psi. Just throw on a boost controller and see what happens (although to be honest, modifying an S209 seems a bit sacrilegious. If you do it, be careful! And make sure to film the results).

Throwing the anchor is a new set of Brembo brakes, including large cross-drilled rotors, plus 6-pot calipers in front and 2-pot calipers in the rear, both of which are fitted with high-performance brake pads.

Ultimate Turbo AWD For The Track?

The 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 Is the Tuner Special We've All Been Waiting For
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Philosophically speaking, we think the WRX is at its best when it’s focused on just one thing - performance. That’s what made the original U.S.-spec model such a success, and we expect the same thing from the S209.

Granted, the 2002 Subaru WRX was a bargain, butting heads with domestic entry-level sports cars like the Ford Mustang. By comparison, the S209 is miles away, likely slotting in above the $50,000 mark.

That ain’t cheap, but we honestly think you get a lot of car for the money. No nonsense either - this thing is the real deal, and it belongs on the track, clipping apexes and fighting the good fight against bigger, more exotic machinery. It’s the biggest performance news from Subaru in a long time, and that puts a smile on our collective face.

Do you agree? Or are we just being fan boys at this point? Let us know in the comments section below.

Further Reading

The 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 Is the Tuner Special We've All Been Waiting For
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The 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 Is the Tuner Special We’ve All Been Waiting For

The 2019 WRX STI S209 Is the Best Performance News From Subaru In a Long Time
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Here’s Why Subaru Is Limiting the 2020 WRX STI S209 in the U.S.

2018 Subaru WRX STI S208 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru S208 WRX STI Limited Edition.

2018 Subaru WRX STI – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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Read our driven review on the2018 Subaru WRX STI.

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