Subaru Tecnica International (STI) has been responsible for bringing racing-inspired flavor to the Subaru brand. The motorsports division of Fuji Heavy Industries has produced many fine examples of specially tuned cars over the years, but this year is special. STI has formally introduced the S-series as part of its brand lineup. In Japan, we have been sprinkled over the years with S versions (such as the WRX STI S401 and S402) but now, STI has decided to make the S designation a regular thing, and the car to kick the new line off is the Legacy STI S402. And reflecting its name, only 402 models will be produced.
Back in August 2007, STI introduced a "Tuned by STI" Legacy that had a production run of 600 units. All 600 sold out in about a month. Now comes the successor, the S402. Keen eyes will spot the visual differences between the Legacy Spec B and the S402. The front air vents have been enlarged, giving the entire front bumper a fresh new look. The front end also features, according to Subaru, a new aero profile that decreases lift on the front end. The fenders have been pushed out for a wider stance, and the tires are sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE050A (235/40/18s all around). These come wrapped around 18x8. STI forged alloy wheels (manufactured by BBS). The wheel/tire combination alone accounts for a roughly 10-pound weight savings when compared to the Legacy Spec B.
But the real highlight of the S402 is the drivetrain. The car's 2.5L flat-four has a new twin-scroll turbocharger that puts out 281 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 289 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. Sure, on paper, it doesn't seem like much, but let me tell you, the response of the new turbo, together with the remapped ECU and breathing improvements, makes the S402 feel like a completely different (and better) car. The most noticeable thing is the flatness of the torque curve. There's good low-end power as soon as you step on the throttle pedal, and the thing doesn't let up until you get high in the rpm spectrum.
STI did considerable work on the chassis, too. All kinds of special stuff here, including the "flexible" front tower bar, rear floor bar, and lower-arm bar that was showcased in the "Tuned by STI" Legacy. The suspension has been specially tuned, and features Bilstein shocks and springs. Also, the steering gear has been tweaked to a 13:1 ratio, which is the quickest steering ratio ever produced by Subaru. The brakes have also received special treatment, with six-pot Brembos up front and two-pot Brembos at the rears. On a winding road, the Legacy STI handles with the best sports sedans in the world. The steering is light and quick reacting, as the car exhibits amazingly crisp turn-in feel. The S402 is a performance car almost anyone can drive fast, and Subaru has hit the nail on the head if they were intent on creating something that's fast and comfortable day in and day out. The more you drive the S402, the more confidence it provides.
"With the S402, we wanted to develop something that makes you a better driver. In order to do that we needed to make a car with higher performance limits than other cars," a Subaru spokesperson said.
With the Legacy STI S402, Subaru has closed the gap between itself and the Europeans when it comes to making world-class sports sedans. Even better, the S402's special bits should be able to easily bolt into any regular fourth-generation USDM Legacy. Too bad there are no plans to sell it outside of Japan. Lucky us.
2008 Subaru Legacy STi S402Engine
Engine Displacement/Type/Valvetrain: 2.5L flat-four, aluminum block and heads, turbocharged and intercooled
Claimed Crank HP: 281 hp at 5,600 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque: 289 lb-ft at 2,000-4,800 rpm
Drivetrain/Layout/Transmission: Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Curb Weight: 3,285 pounds
Engine Modifications: STI stainless steel exhaust
Suspension: Bilstein struts, springs, STI tower bar, underbracing
Brakes (Front/Rear): Brembo six-piston fixed calipers, vented rotors/two-piston fixed calipers, vented rotors
Wheels (Front/Rear): 18x8 STI forged aluminum alloy
Tires (Front/Rear): 235/40/18 Bridgestone RE050A