Japan’s getting another special edition WRX STI while the rest of us can only look at it

Though it’s true that most of them are found only in Japan, there are no shortages in special edition Subaru WRX STIs in the world. We all need to remind ourselves of that because Subaru is releasing another special edition version of its power-packed performance sedan, and it’s once again exclusive to the Japanese market. It’s called the WRX STI Type RA-R, and it’s essentially a lighter and more powerful version of the WRX STI Type RA, one of the few special edition versions that made its way in the U.S. market.

What makes the Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R so special?

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R Exterior
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The Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R is the personification of what a lightweight, performance-based Subaru WRX STI should be all about

Developed to commemorate STI’s 30th anniversary, the Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R is the personification of what a lightweight, performance-based Subaru WRX STI should be all about. It doesn’t look any different from its special edition precursors, but that’s largely out of design. Simply looking at this special edition Subie doesn’t do justice to its special edition label. For that, you need to step inside and take it for a spin.

The Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R is special for two reasons: it’s lighter and has more power than the already potent Type RA. Look back at some other recent special edition WRS STIs, and you’ll realize that the “less-weight-more-power” cocktail is prevalent in all of them. That includes the WRX STI S208, another special edition Subie that was available only to, you guessed it, the Japanese market.

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R Exterior
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On the matter of weight, the Type RA-R weighs 30 kilos (66 pounds) lighter than the S208

On the matter of weight, the Type RA-R weighs 30 kilos (66 pounds) lighter than the S208. That weight saving was achieved thanks to the prevalent use of carbon fiber on the body, most notably on the roof and the side mirrors.

Aesthetically, the Type RA-R doesn’t carry a lot of distinguishable features, but it does have Cherry Blossom red accents just under the mesh-type front grille and the rear bumper. The sedan also features a black side garnish with an STI emblem, an RA-R rear ornament, and an STI 30th Anniversary rear ornament. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. Subaru is also opening the option to buy the Type RA-R without the rear wing in the back. If you’re the type, who wants to be low-key on what your SE Subie can do, ditching the rear wing might be a good idea. The wheels, on the other hand, have to remain in the car. The set has been downsized to 18 inches in the Type RA-R, smaller than the 19s that were used on both the Type RA and the S208.

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R Exterior
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Subaru is also opening the option to buy the Type RA-R without the rear wing in the back

There don’t appear to be any significant changes to the sedan’s interior, but it does have fabric-covered front sports seats and normal rear seats with red stitching. The instrument panel gets its own high-gloss black decoration with the RA-R logo while the door trims, armrests, and console lid are all covered in simulated leather and, once again, red stitching.

As muted as the upgrades are on the Type RA-R’s interior, you can’t say the same for its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This is where the special edition Subie plants its flag as a better and more evolved special edition model that the Type RA and S208. Thanks to some careful tuning and tweaking of the ECU unit by Subaru’s renowned engineers, the Type RA-R packs a tidy 324 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque. The numbers aren’t going to blow anybody’s mind away, but remember, the Type RA that we have here in the U.S. “only” carries 310 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. Do the math and the Type RA-R has around 14 ponies and 28 pound-feet of twist over its U.S.-spec cousin.

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R
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Thanks to some careful tuning and tweaking of the ECU unit by Subaru’s renowned engineers, the Type RA-R packs a tidy 324 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque

To maintain its driving dynamics in the face of its lighter weight, Subaru worked on improving the sedan’s suspension unit by installing inverted struts and rear dampers, as well as lowering the car’s coil springs. A performance exhaust system with lowered backpressure is also featured in the SE Subie, same as a performance muffler and a tuned rear exhaust pipe.

Rounding out the modifications to the Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R are Brembo brakes in the front and rear that carry six-piston calipers and two-piston calipers, respectively.

There are equal parts good news and bad news when it comes to the Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R. The good news is that the performance sedan has the makings to be a better version of the Type RA. If you own the latter and attest to its ridiculous drive, imagine if your car lost more weight and added more power. It’s a mouth-watering thought that’s only burdened by the fact that not only is the WRX STI Type RA-R limited to just 500 units, but all 500 units will be sold exclusively in Japan. That means that we don’t get one in the U.S. If you’re living in any other country that isn’t Japan, you don’t get one, either. We can all share in that misery.

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R Exterior
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The WRX STI Type RA-R costs a tick under 5 million yen, including taxes

Fortunately for our friends over in the Land of the Rising Sun, they have all 500 models to themselves. Even better, the WRX STI Type RA-R costs a tick under 5 million yen, including taxes. That converts to around $45,000 based on the current exchange rates. The Subaru WRX STI Type RA-R looks like a car’s that meant to be driven in America’s roads, but that won’t be the case unless someone finds a way to import one from Japan. But for the rest of us, all we can do is enjoy what we’re seeing and hope that it’s as good as advertised.

References

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA

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

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior
- image 700155

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI.

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Read more Subaru news.

Press release

Subaru Corporation and its motorsports subsidiary Subaru Tecnica International (STI)*1 today released the WRX STI TYPE RA-R, a special limited-edition model with just 500 units to be available in Japan market.

The TYPE RA-R, based on the WRX STI, is the complete model to commemorate STI’s 30th anniversary of its establishment in 1988. Developed under the concepts of “light weight”, “speed” and “enjoyment”, the TYPE RA-R pursues “Running, Turning and Stopping”, the fundamental performances of an automobile. With the application of lightweight parts and even taking some parts off from the base model, the TYPE RA-R saves 30kg of weight compared to the previous complete models “S208” and “S207”, and is also 10kg lighter than the base model WRX STI. *2 *3 Combined with lighter body is EJ20 Balanced BOXER engine, which has also been applied for S208, delivering the highest output among all the STI complete models. With the power-to-weight ratio exceeding that of S208, the Type RA-R brings “speed” and ”enjoyment” at the highest level STI complete models have ever brought.

The power unit enhancement the TYPE RA-R receives is not just EJ20 Balanced BOXER engine delivering 329PS. A performance shroud with high rigidity enables intercooler to work at its maximum cooling efficiency. A performance exhaust system with lowered backpressure also contributes to higher engine output and more direct acceleration response. With these enhancements, the TYPE RA-R engine revs up smoothly and its exhaust note evokes high performance of the car.

Dampers and coil springs are exclusively designed for TYPE RA-R. The car is equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, which feature different compounds between the outer and inner parts of the tread and provide strong tire grip on both dry and wet road surfaces. Brembo brakes with high performance brake pads for stronger brake force are also adopted for this model. These enhancements give extra margins for the TYPE RA-R and better controllability provides peace of mind for driver.

The TYPE RA-R must be ordered at Subaru retailers by December 17, 2018, and sales are limited to 500 units.

Main Features of TYPE RA-R
■ Suspension System and Wheels / Power Unit

・Inverted struts and lowering coil springs
・Rear dampers and lowering coil springs
・STI-designed BBS 18-inch×8 1/2JJ alloy wheels (Matte Black)
・245/40ZR18 97Y tires (Michelin Pilot Sport 4S)

・Brembo 18-inch ventilated front disc brakes [drilled disc rotors & monobloc opposed 6-pot calipers (silver-painted with STI logo, STI Performance brake pads)]

・Brembo 18-inch ventilated rear disc brakes [drilled disc rotors & monobloc opposed 2-pot calipers (silver-painted with STI logo, STI Performance brake pads)]

・High-output balanced engine (with RA-R logoed STI Performance ornament) *4
・Exclusively tuned engine control unit (ECU)
・Balanced clutch cover and flywheel
・Twin scroll ball bearing turbocharger

・Performance exhaust system with lowered backpressure; Performance muffler with STI logo and tuned rear exhaust pipe

・STI-designed strengthened silicon intake duct
・Performance shroud
・Quick-ratio steering gearbox (11:1)
・Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system
・Active Torque Vectoring system (controls front and rear brakes in traction mode)
・STI-designed low-pressure-drop air cleaner element
・STI Performance engine oil (Motul 5W-40)

■ Controls

・STI-designed push-type engine starter switch (red with STI logo)
・STI-designed DURACONR POM shift knob (black with STI logo)

■ Interior

・Front sport seats (fabric and tricot, red stitching)
・Rear seats (fabric and tricot, red stitching)
・Instrument panel decoration (High gross black, with RA-R logo)
・Door trims/Door arm rests/Console lid (Simulated leather、red stitching)
・Sub trunk (with tire repair kit)

■ Exterior

・Black roof antenna (shark fin type)
・Mesh-type front grill (cherry-red stripe, with STI logo ornament)
・Black side garnish with STI emblem
・Dry carbon fiber aero-shaped door mirror covers
・Rear bumper (with cherry-red stripe)
・RA-R rear ornament
・STI 30th Anniversary rear ornament

*4: There are no identical replacement parts available as this is a limited-production car.
■DURACON® is a registered trademark of Polyplastics Co., Ltd. in Japan and other countries.

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