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2018 Subaru WRX STI - Meet STInister

How a Subaru STI became the workhorse of the Motor Trend video crew

William Walker
Sep 27, 2018
Writer: Jonny Lieberman

You've all seen those murdered-out Porsche Cayennes and Panameras running around with giant robotic arms on them, right? No? Maybe it's an L.A. thing. Known in the biz as Russian Arms, they cost about 1 million bucks, or $25K to rent. Motor Trend's entire budget for an episode of either Ignition or Head 2 Head is less than that. Trouble is, we need a camera car. Preferably a quick one.

2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends STInister 6 Photo 2/7   |   2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends Stinister 6

STIninster began life when my co-host Jethro Bovingdon asked me if Porsche would give us a Panamera. That phone call went something like this: Me: "Hey Porsche, can we have a Panamera?" Porsche: "No." Next I called Subaru to ask about an STI: "We have a 2018 in Denver. Will Friday work?" Never has a phone call been easier. As for the name, a quick Google search taught me that there are approximately eleventy billion STIs called "NaSTI." Same sentiment, different spelling.

The brains behind STInister is my co-worker Mahdad Emadipour, who I believe has 17 Ph.D.s in aeronautical engineering. Something like that. Via a whole bunch of camera gear and Home Depot tubing, he created a remote-control camera system that can be operated from inside the vehicle.

My job was to help out with the brawn. First up, Cobb Tuning hooked us up with a Stage One kit to add some power. Our 0-60 dropped by 0.8 second, and the quarter mile fell from 14.1 to 13.4 seconds. Sweet! Because you don't want reflections when filming, the boys at Luxe CC swaddled STIninster in a matte black wrap (though I insisted on the gold tooth). Forgiato made us some custom gold five-spoke wheels, to which Michelin added some ultra-sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 meats. I think we need to retest STInny on the new wheels and rubber.

Here's the dirty secret about those high-dollar Russian Arms: They don't work above 60 miles per hour. But we've seen as high as 105 mph in STInister, and the picture remains rock solid. Can we go faster? Yes, especially as soon as Mahdad replaces those steel poles with carbon-fiber ones. Stay tuned.

2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends STInister 1 Photo 3/7   |   2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends Stinister 1
2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends STInister 4 Photo 7/7   |   2018 Subaru STI Motor Trends Stinister 4
By William Walker
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