Review: 2018 Subaru WRX STI It’ll Snarl and Growl But It Won’t Ravage You
The newly-refreshed 2018 Subaru WRX gets a number of performance upgrades, but it also gets more comfort than any previous-generation STI performance car. It’s going to appeal to a wider audience because it won’t ravage you when you use it as a daily driver. The WRX STI is still a performance enthusiast’s sedan, but it will also appeal to your softer side.
What’s new for 2018?
For 2018, the Subaru WRX STI gets a refresh of its suspension, interior and safety system. The new STI gets revised suspension tuning, new Brembo brakes with larger cross-drilled rotors, new 19-inch wheels, Recaro performance seats with power driver’s seat, and LED Steering Responsive Headlights. It also gets revised front styling, the suspension has been optimized for better handling and ride comfort, and the interior gets upgraded with new materials and a quieter cabin. A revised front structure improves frontal collision performance.
This week we drive a Crystal Black Silica 2018 Subaru WRX STI Limited model with the optional Recaro performance seats.
Features and options
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Limited ($36,095) comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, LED steering responsive headlights, STI trunk wing, 5.9-inch color multi-function display, rear camera, all-weather package with heated seats, dual-zone climate control, Ultrasuede leather trimmed upholstery, STI-sport instrument cluster with color LCD display, and 19-inch STI alloy wheels wrapped in 245/35 R19 summer performance tires.
Options on this WRX STI tester were the Recaro sport seats, with eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and keyless ignition and entry. ($2,500). Total MSRP as tested including destination: $39,455.
Subaru interiors have been their worst attribute, and the WRX STI needed improvements. The biggest upgrade on the 2018 WRX STI might be the cabin. Our tester came with the optional Recaro sport seats and they are worth the money. With the 8-way power on the driver’s seat, it’s now easy to find the perfect driving position for either highway cruising or for spirited driving on the street or track. And the new performance seats will keep you planted when you push it hard in the curves. The black and red Ultrasuede leather is soft and it’s the best material to date in the STI. There’s more soft-touch materials in this newly-refreshed interior and there’s redesigned interior door grips, a new rear seat armrest with cup holders, and faster remote trunk opening.
There’s still some wind and tire noise seeping through, but the cabin is quieter than the outgoing model. It now features thicker door glass, revised door sealing and a foam-filled windshield header beam contributing to unwanted noise being kept out. It’s always been interesting when automakers try to keep the exterior sounds out, when tuners will bolt on a custom exhaust system on this performance car for better exhaust note performance. Subaru is definitely trying to appeal to wider audience with the new STI.
There’s also a new, larger high-def multi-function display (5.9-inch vs. 4.3-inch before) making it easier to see vehicle functions when you are on the go. WRX STI comes standard with STARLINK 7.0” multimedia audio unit which is upgraded from the previous STARLINK 6.2” unit, but we weren’t impressed with the sound quality of the sound system.
Engine and fuel mileage specs
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI stays with the 2.5-liter turbo boxer engine producing 305 horsepower and 290 lb. ft of torque. No changes were made to the power plant for 2018. The EJ25 boxer is highly modifiable and many owners will add upgrades to boost horsepower and performance. But even without mods like a new exhaust system, engine management timing, fuel system, intake, intercooler and turbo upgrades, the STI will satisfy the average performance fans.
The WRX STI is only available with one transmission, a six-speed manual gearbox sending power to all four wheels by way of Subaru’s excellent rally-bred Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. You won’t need to leave this performance car in the garage during inclement weather. The STI gets an EPA estimated 17/23 city/highway mpg and 19 combined mpg using premium unleaded fuel.
The yellow-painted brake calipers peaking through the new Y-shaped spoked 19-inch alloy wheels gave us an idea of how the new Brembo brakes would upgrade the ride. Performance enthusiasts won’t need to do anything to the suspension and brakes. It gets larger brake pads, stronger mono-block 6-piston calipers in front, monoblock 2-piston calipers in the rear and larger, drilled rotors on all four corners for better heat dissipation. Go to Page 2.