The Subaru WRX STI has long been a favorite among enthusiasts for a complete and practical sports sedan that doesn’t necessarily break the bank. Getting its most recent major redesign as a 2015 model year, the latest 2018 WRX STI retains much that we love in all its 305 horsepower, all-wheel-drive and manual 6-speed transmission glory.
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For 2018, the WRX STI remains mostly the same and somewhat sways from being a complete practical package mostly due to its race-inspired suspension that is mostly firm and rather overly jarring at low speeds. However, at highway speeds, the WRX STI magically smooths out a bit for a more compliant ride quality.
See Also: 2016 Subaru WRX STI Review & Test Drive
Keeping with tradition, in a literal sense, the 2018 WRX STI retains the same drivetrain with its proven 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer (horizontally opposed) 4-cylinder engine with 305 horsepower and 290 ft-lbs of torque. The choice for Subaru to keep the same engine without any changes seems to be a key to staying on the reliability spectrum but at a cost of falling behind the new competition on paper. Still, the traditionalist driving characteristics of a relatively short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, tight suspension, all-wheel-drive w/electronically controlled center differential, and nearly hooked-on-rails handling, all make the WRX STI a desirable pick for the enthused driver. In the end, apart from the performance, opting for a WRX STI over others may come down to the livability of a firm ride and exhaust note that drones at low RPMs but gets quiet at high revs – I wonder how Subaru manages to do that?
The Subaru WRX STI has aged gracefully even though its competition touts higher horsepower numbers. Many will say that horsepower isn’t everything and they would be correct and at the same time closet fanboys of when the WRX STI ruled its segment in the performance arena would be, too. Today, the WRX STI is somewhat overshadowed by its nearly-as-quick WRX sibling with a lower price point. However, adding the STI branding still brings a bit more to the table than some are willing to admit. With that, the WRX STI touts a unique method of driver involvement, one that isn’t easy for everyone to master considering the clutch’s late bite point and somewhat narrow power band. From my many escapades in the WRX STI I’m reminded of a vehicle that’s difficult to launch when you desire to obtain that optimal 4.6 seconds run to 60 mph. Doing such requires a high rev dump of the clutch, somewhat counterintuitive of your no-clutch-burning instincts. However, it does work… almost mysteriously.
The interior of the latest WRX STI has the sportier side of Subaru throughout starting with the Recaro bucket seats and settling on the soft-touch dash and a limited amount of premium feeling or looking trim pieces. Overall, the interior is functional for its purpose and doesn’t attempt to do something that it’s not designed to do. The latest 7-inch infotainment touchscreen unit is simple enough in its quick operation. The dual-zone climate controls are equally as simple, which goes a long way with the overall theme of the Subaru WRX STI, simple but functional on the side of a stout weekend track day performer.
At an as-tested maxed-out price tag of $41,755, the value is there considering the added amenities of the WRX STI Limited of blind-spot detection, keyless access with pushbutton start, a 9-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, welcome lighting, and the 7-inch Subaru STARLINK multimedia navigation infotainment unit.
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Limited is an excellent alternative to the unproven field of hot hatchbacks and segment-busting entry-level performance sedans. Without showing much of its age in a bad way, the WRX STI has aged with grace. It’s your choice if you want a big spoiler or none at all – either way, you’re getting a road thrasher with demonstrated reliability.