Since Subaru Tecnica International (STI) was founded in 1988, it’s produced many envy-inducing sports vehicles that the rest of the world gets to sample, but not one has ever made it to the United States. But it’s a whole new program with the 2019 Subaru STI S209: This time, we get it, and the rest of the world is jealous.
For the first time a limited number of cars will be extensively updated and enhanced at the STI fabrication facility in Japan and then sent to buyers in the United States.
“Finally, the same type of car that automobile enthusiasts have only been able to obtain in Japan is coming to the U.S.,” Todd Hill, the WRX and WRX STI carline planning manager for Subaru of America, tells Drive Performance. “This is an enormous undertaking.”
In the pantheon of great performance vehicles that have carried the STI badge, this is the ultimate. “The S209 is the best performing car that STI has ever built,” says Hill. “This model will have a great number of upgrades, far more than any previous STI model has ever received.”
The differences between a WRX STI and an STI S209 are immediately evident in the latter’s aggressive body style. Those exterior modifications are completely functional. The enlarged fenders required to accommodate the larger tires and wheels give the STI S209 a wide-body design aesthetic. The front canards and carbon-fiber rear spoiler dramatically improve aerodynamics, and a carbon-fiber roof panel serves to stiffen the structure. The lightweight roof panel also lowers the center of gravity for improved handling.
– Todd Hill, WRX and WRX STI carline planning manager for Subaru of America
The exhaust system has been redesigned with larger diameter components to reduce back pressure for more horsepower. All these changes contribute to an increase in horsepower from the STI model’s 310 hp up to a whopping 341 hp1 in the STI S209.
Observant STI fans will recognize the 6-speed close-ratio manual transmission from the WRX STI, but the S209 features a short-throw shifter for quicker shifts, plus an upgraded, stronger clutch to handle the engine’s increased output.
The suspension is built around a preloaded, high-response chassis with draw stiffeners and a flexible strut tower bar with a spherical joint in the middle. This allows the car to flex for ride comfort while providing high-performance handling and cornering. Tire wheel width increases from 19 by 8.5 inches to 19 by 9 inches. The STI S209 even features tires developed specifically for this vehicle by Dunlop® to provide it with significantly better road grip.
All of these changes come coated in one of two exterior colors, with exclusive interior design and special badging. The World Rally Blue Pearl features gray wheels that mirror the color scheme the Subaru STI racing team uses at the Nürburgring. The S209 is also available in Crystal White Pearl with gold wheels.2
Hill sums up the 2019 STI S209 with a nod to the factory tuner’s knack for building upon such a strong platform: “STI has the ability to make what seem like small changes cause dramatic differences in the way the car rides and drives.”
The 2019 STI S209 will be available from Subaru retailers in late 2019.
1 Based on manufacturer’s initial testing. Subject to change. 2 Limited availability. See your retailer for details. 3 Bilstein® is a registered trademark of Thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America.