2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Versus STI


In what is clearly a case of be careful what you ask for, North American enthusiasts implored Subaru to bring the WRX here for years. Long unobtainable in this market, the WRX made its name winning rallies all over the world. After years of cajoling, Subaru offered the WRX here for the first time in 2001 as a 2002 model. In 2004, the higher performance WRX STI made the journey as well.

Thing is, the WRX and STI were based on rally cars. Yeah, they were fast. And yeah, they handled better than the average car. But the compliance built into them for rallying left them less than razor sharp on the pavement. In the inevitable comparisons between their direct competitors from Mitsubishi--Lancer Evolution and Evolution MR--the WRX and STI consistently came up short.


For 2011, Subaru recalibrated the cars in an effort to give them more bite in the corners, improve overall stability, sharpen steering, minimize understeer, and reduce body roll. Stiffer springs, a wider track, lower ride height, larger sway bars, stiffer rear bushings, and redesigned front bushings comprise the hardware upgrades specified to accomplish these tasks. Given there are no changes to the engines or the transmissions, the unstated goal here is obviously to make the Subarus handle better than the Mitsubishis.


By all measures, the 2011 Subarus are an improvement over the 2010 models. They’re more handsome, handle better and offer more comfort and convenience. Plus, a four-door STI sedan is offered again with pricing starting at $34,720. Given the enjoyment we derived from driving the car, if there were no other considerations, we’d endorse the 2011 STI heartily.

Thing is, there’s another consideration.


For the way most people drive, the WRX is more than sufficient. At approximately $8,500 less, we’re struggling to justify spending for the STI, particularly now that there is no significant difference between the look of the two cars. For 2011, the wide-bodied look for both sedan and five-door also grace WRX.

Yes, you'll give up 40 horsepower and 46 ft-lbs of torque to the 305/290 of the STI, but the WRX has consistently tested quicker to 60 than the STI. Fact is, the gear that truly makes the STI really only comes into play in competition situations. For sporting drivers looking for the smart move--go WRX instead and use the $8,500 saved for gas money.

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