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July 29, 2014

Review: 2014 Subaru WRX STI

Photos by Ulysses Ang
The Subaru WRX STI—it’s one of those cars that need little introduction. However, in case you do need a refresher (shame on you); they represent the pinnacle of Subaru’s technical know-how. Borne out of the World Rally Championship, they’re fitted with a massaged turbocharged Flat-4 engine and all-wheel drive as standard from Day One. They are, in short, the automotive equivalent of Thor: the God of Thunder and Lighting with biceps (or fender flares, if you prefer) to make even the manliest man swoon. However, for all the space it occupied on bedroom walls and laptop wallpapers, it had one big problem: they weren’t for the faint of heart. They were like driving a sledgehammer with four wheels and a windshield. Thankfully though, Subaru and the engineering gurus at Subaru Technica International or STI have rectified that erratic behavior in the all-new model. Not only is this the best handling WRX STI ever. This is the most refined WRX STI ever.

The WRX STI’s stint through charm school starts first with the way it looks. There are still some hints of muscularity to its design, but it’s been toned down dramatically. And it’s all for the better. With increased competition, some from unlikely makes and models (the Lexus IS 350 comes to mind) the WRX STI sheds its boy racer look and goes for something much more subdued. Subaru loyalists (or Subarists as they are now officially termed) cried out at the loss of the gigantic rear wing, but after a long, hard look, it actually looks better without it. For once, there’s nothing to distract from the car’s muscular yet purposeful lines. The flared fenders are actually much better integrated into the WRX STI’s design: flaring at the front, tapering through the body, and flaring once again at the back. There are also not-so-subtle hints to this car’s performance: the trademark hood scoop upfront, the quad-tip exhausts and rear diffuser at the back, and get this: even a flat undertray to channel air much more effectively. And at each corner, forged 18-inch BBS alloy wheels with Dunlop Sport Maxx 245/40R18 tires. The WRX STI’s design works very well in almost every angle but one: dead-on front where it looks ‘generic turbocharged car’.

As polished as the WRX STI is outside, the biggest improvement happens inside, especially when you compared it to its most immediate predecessor. Out goes the hard dashboard plastics and replacing them are those of the soft-touch variety. The fit and finish are a touch above the typical Japanese and unlike Subarus of yesteryear, there are absolutely no rattles. Every surface the driver sees and touches, from the controls to the seats are finished impeccably well. The switchgear all operate with a solid, crisp feel while the steering wheel, seats, and shifter are covered in high-quality leather. And finally, you have the instrument panel, which is quite frankly, one of the best-looking in any current production car. Not only are the red-dialed gauges easy to read and understand; it gives the driver a multitude of information including the SI-Drive and center differential setting to the condition of the all-wheel drive system to a digital and analog turbo boost gauge.

Built as a performance sports sedan, the WRX STI nails the driving position absolutely right. Perhaps taking lessons learned from the Subaru BRZ’s purity in the man-machine interface department, the WRX STI fits like a well-worn pair of Onitsuka Tigers. It takes less than 30 seconds to get settled in and ready to go. The most comfortable seating position is now much lower with the legs slightly tucked foward and the seatback a bit more upright. The thick-rimmed D-shaped steering wheel and shifter fall naturally into place while the pedal spacing/positioning is perfect for some heel-and-toe action. The front seats also offer adjustable headrests (a first) and have heavy side bolsters for optimal comfort. Despite the low seating position, there’s excellent visibility in all directions but the lower ride height (135 millimeters) means extra precaution must be taken with parking bump stops. Although everything about the WRX STI screams track attack car, it’s an absolute joy to drive long distances too—an impromptu drive up NLEX and down to SLEX proved mighty comfortable, even for the rear passengers who’ll love an incremental increase in knee room. If there’s one weakness in the WRX STI though, it’s the luggage space which is long but shallow.

Having driven the previous WRX STI extensively before, one would expect the same sort of driving experience when they have essentially carryover mechanicals: the same EJ257 2.5-liter Boxer-4 mated to a 6-speed manual. In reality though, the difference is like night and day. The experience starts as soon as the ‘Engine Start’ button is pushed and the WRX STI’s rumbly note takes over the cabin. Thanks to a sound tube pumping the engine’s soundtrack into the cabin, it’s like having a subwoofer permanently cranked up. It won’t shake the rear view mirror, but it can and will drown out the audio system. At full song, the rumbly note will be joined by the orchestra of the turbo spooling up and the blow-off valve going off. The only music that the WRX STI knows is: rumble, rumble, brrrrr, psssst. Even after five days of repeating this over and over, the manly voice of the 305 horsepower, 407 Nm engine doesn’t get tiring. The 6-speed manual is also an absolute ally with its rod linkage that ensures a direct and substantial feel. The spacing between gears is also perfectly tuned for the engine’s broad power band, especially third gear which is perhaps the most flexible. And depending on how you drive the WRX STI, it can produce amazing good or awful mileage ranging from 5.95 km/L in the city to 13.69 km/L on the highway. After more than 500 kilometers behind the wheel, the WRX STI’s mixed average ended up at 8.69 km/L.

More than just fun in a straight line, the WRX STI is even more rewarding in the corners. With a body constructed with more high-tensile steel than any other Subaru before it (with extra stiffeners in key locations), the WRX STI is much more confident through corners. The stiffer spring rates (up 22 percent front, 6 percent back) mean it can tackle switchbacks and curves much more aggressively and with absolutely no body roll even in quick left-right-left transitions. Together with its quicker steering, the WRX STI feels very rewarding behind the wheel, especially when being manhandled through corners. In any occasion, it feels much more precise and more urgent—even more so than the Subaru BRZ. Even when you want the backend to kick out, it won’t; instead it will do a four-wheel drift. And when things get a bit hairy, it comes with Active Torque Vectoring that helps keep you in your intended path. Of course, there’s a flipside to the WRX STI’s improved handling prowess and that’s the firmer ride. Though it actually feels smoother and much more compliant at higher speeds than the outgoing model; at low speeds, it doesn’t absorb road undulations as well.

Priced at P 2,498,000, the 2014 Subaru WRX STI is worth every bit the purchase price. It’s one of those cars which are truly rewarding behind the wheel whether you find yourself attacking a racetrack or a mountain pass.  And that’s not even considering that the amount of kit has increased tremendously this year. Aside from the Forged BBS alloys and leather seats, the WRX STI gets a powered driver’s seat, dual zone climate control, and a moon roof as standard equipment. But for all the added luxury, this is still Subaru’s ultimate expression of what a driver’s car should be; continuing a long heritage developed on dirt tracks and race tracks around the world. Only this time, it’s gotten much more refined.

2014 Subaru WRX STI
Ownership 2014 Subaru WRX STI
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Sports Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door Sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 305 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 407 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 98~
Transmission 6MT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,595
Width (mm) 1,795
Height (mm) 1,475
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650
Curb Weight (kg) 1,509
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Inverted MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Brembo, Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Brembo, Vented Disc
Tires 245/40R18
Wheels Forged Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Reverse Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Power (Driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. I know it's like comparing apples to oranges, but at that price I'd just get an Accord with a V6 engine. Plus I have about P400,000 to spare.

    Maybe I'm getting too old for this.

    Or maybe the Philippines have few roads that can accommodate the speed, handling and ride of this beast.

    If you want to impress your peers the you should definitely get an STI. As for me, I'll stick with mid size "executive" vehicles.

    1. Quite true. But that's the beauty of all these choices in the market now! :-) If you want a softer STI, there's still the WRX, which we will have our review up soon.

    2. But for me, I will stick with the new STI

  2. can you feel the speed difference between the WRX and the STi ? Is the difference really that noticeable?

    1. Haven't driven the WRX extensively yet so I can't comment. But from what others have said, the WRX and WRX STI are closely matched. In fact, the WRX STI only edges the WRX when it comes to attack mode like when you bring it to track days and stuff. On regular days though, the WRX is more than good enough and is just as fast. Again, I'd like to reserve my judgement once I get to drive the WRX.

    2. STI = Lancer Evo

      WRX = Lancer Ralliart

    3. True. However, the WRX's performance is very close already to the WRX STI's. Again, this is based on what other people have said. Haven't driven the WRX to pass judgement.

    4. The WRX sold here is initially offered in CVT only while the WRX STI is offered in manual only. Can you really compare a CVT from manual?

  3. Kaya SIGURO 275kph! sana?


    Sales Consultant
    Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc. (Subaru)
    187 Edsa Greenhills, San Juan City
    Metro Manila 1503, Philippines
    Tel: 09276039220

  5. Sir!, what is the maintaining speed to achieve 13.68km/L?

  6. Fuel consumption? Good or bad?


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