It's a sad fact but there are few remaining turbocharged Japanese sportcars landing on showroom floors. The '90s turbo-ushered era of RX-7s, 300ZXs, Supras, 3000GTs, Eclipses and MR-2s has come and gone. Can we have a moment of silence for our long lost companions? Cue Taps bugle call. RIP, good buddies.
Japanese turbocharged sports coupes may have gone the way of the last Scientology-obsessed samurai, but there are two sedans that have established all-wheel drive footholds in boost, namely the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX. And either one makes our panties more damp than a summer day in the ATL. Always wanting to build one, we did what any broke-ass automotive journalist wanting a car would: attempt to coerce and/or blackmail an OE PR person. When that didn't work, we begged, pouted and held our breath till we turned Subaru blue. Impressed by our tenacity and facial hue, Dominick at Subaru caved-in, graciously sacrificing a brand-spanking-new '07 Subaru Impreza WRX (drumroll please) STI. Yes, the very same Impreza model with the three letters that made the color pink cool again; a feat in and of itself.
Besides bringing a heady assertiveness to an otherwise feminine color, the STI does to Subaru what the "Type-R" did to Honda, or the "GT-R" to Nissan. It hoisted up the performance bar like Viagra in your tighty-whities. Uncomfortable tent pitching and wet spots aside, the STI comes packed with turbocharged 2.5L DOHC intercooled flat-four man-tastic goodness that puts out 293 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque; a hefty amount of energy that spins symmetrically and superfluously out all four wheels via a six-speed tranny. We're not talking Adam's apple packing Thai tranny either, but a sexy as hell, firme heina con ritmo with stock 17-inch gold BBS aluminum alloy wheels, dime-skirting Brembo brakes, manually controlled intercooler spray and HIDs nutz (sorry, couldn't help ourselves)
And if the standard STI amenities weren't enough, Subaru got us started on the mods. A Performance Group 2b package with a Titanium shift knob, short throw shift and boost gauge makes shifting during full boost quicker, and a Popular Equipment Group 2d boasting an auto-dimming mirror/compass and a shock sensor for the security system gives peace of mind. For long road trips or a trek through K-Town to King Taco, we even have a Sirius Satellite Radio kit.
Now that we have this well-equipped STI in our grubby little hands, what can you expect? Big things. Think Time Attack. And please, before you start groaning, this one isn't going to be one of those crazy custom fab and rollcaged deals; everything on this car is going to be bolt-on (read: easy enough for Elliott and Cater to install). We're going to prove that a bunch of monkeys with a highly competitive platform and some simple modifications are going to rip up Time Attack, or at the very least turn out a really cool looking Subaru WRX STI (we hope).
I feel like a WRC shoe in our WR Blue Pearl STI, although my driving is more Peter Griffin than Petter Solberg. At the inaugural Gymkhana USA event I was able to heel both our Project STI and an Evo 9 between the tightly placed cones. As expected, the Evo was stronger out of the hole with a kart-like impetuousness to the steering, but the Evo's turning radius was not as tight as the STI nor did its AWD suffer my ham-footed driving style gladly. In short, the STI is more forgiving for the average hack like me. I just hope we don't jack the STI's balance in our quest for improved performance.
Getting to drive the STI after the break-in period was fun-flooring it and feeling the turbo kick in. The car was no doubt fast, even with Elliott in the car. It handles OK for being on stock suspension, but could definitely use some stiffening up.
I'll probably get slapped for saying this, but the STI doesn't suit my fancy-at least not completely. Yes, the sedan-the-world-loves is dead quick and handles like a wet dream, but where's the comfort? Subaru obviously put its money into performance and that's OK with me, I guess.
Under normal driving conditions, the STI is a bit laggy. It almost drives like a NA four-banger under low throttle, but get on it and the story changes. Motor-swapped 240SXs, beware: The STI'll chew up and spit out under-modded SRs and RBs.
That New Car Smell
'07 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The Sticker est. $33,495 MSRP (add $948 for Performance Group 2b; $298 for Popular Equipment Group 2d; $422 for Sirius Satellite Radio kit)
Under The Hood 2.5L 16v horizontally opposed (Boxer) four-cylinder
The Power 293 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 290 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Scale Tipping 3,351 lb
Layout front engine, symmetrical all-wheel drive with DCCD (Driver Control Center Differential)
Gearbox six-speed manual transmission
Stiff Stuff MacPherson-type inverted independent sport-tuned struts
Rollers 17x8 BBS aluminum alloy wheels, 225/45ZR17 Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tires
Stoppers Brembo four-piston calipers (front), twin-piston calipers (rear)
At The Pump est. EPA 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
The Pack Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Deep Thoughts The nouveau Japanese supercar, the STI redefines the Japanese sports sedan by adding an additional two doors.