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2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA Drivers' Notes Review | Fun for the few

The RA is limited to just 500 units in the US.

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It may not be practical for everyone, but the Subaru WRX STI is one of the most exciting sedans for sale in America.

  • Engine
    2.5L Turbo H4
  • Power
    310 HP / 290 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    Six-Speed Manual
  • Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    12 CU-FT
  • MPG
    16 City / 22 Highway
  • As Tested Price
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA is a limited-edition version of the Japanese automaker's iconic rally-derived sports coupe. Only 500 units are headed to America, and, with a price tag just shy of $50,000, every single one is likely to be scooped up by true Subaru enthusiasts. The RA moniker stands for record attempt. The STI lapped the Nürburgring in fewer than seven minutes.

The Type RA differs from the regular model in a few ways, most notably the lightweight and adjustable carbon-fiber rear wing. The car also uses carbon fiber on the roof to lower the center-of-gravity. Other changes include a 5-horsepower bump, 19-inch BBS wheels, Bilstein dampers and a few changes to interior and exterior trim. It doesn't transform so much as refine an already hot product.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: Rock-solid chassis. Hair-trigger clutch. Tight chassis. Heavy steering. Black coffee. No need for solid foods. This was my lunch on a gray Thursday as I whipped up and down Woodward Avenue in the Subaru WRX STI Type RA. It's a riot. This thing sounds like a hooligan and most of the time behaves like one, too. I spent a lot of time in second and third gears with the revs around 5,000, just because. Need to slow things down? The brakes are spot-on, with quick bite and little pedal travel. The seats are supportive and nicely bolstered. It's a little harsh at lower speeds — something I noticed as I cruised through the verdant Cranbrook campus in metro Detroit.

So yeah, I like the STI. This one, done up in RA trim, is a limited-edition model with a carbon wing and roof. It's lighter and has five more horsepower. If you love the STI and the RA (for Record Attempt) has meaning to you, sure, try to get one of these unicorns. Only 500 will be made and they are not cheap — ours is 50 grand. Otherwise, just buy a regular STI. Or if it were me, a WRX. Still, I can see the allure of this rare Subaru. Parting shot: this car also reminds me how much fun sedans are.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: The Subaru STI is a riot to drive, and as a recently reformed WRX owner, it feels familiar every time I get in it. Such is the case with the Type RA, which I also had the pleasure of driving at the track at Thermal Club in California. It the real world, it's still fun. But overall, I'd not spend the extra money for the Type RA.

This time around, I was driving in traffic on public roads, including highway traffic jams and some long country sweepers. The weight discipline makes a palpable difference in the way this car hugs the road. The wing, not so much. Everything about this car is taut and tense, from the suspension to the clutch pedal to the short throws of the shifter and the steering. It makes it entertaining, but it's a bit of a workout. In traffic, my left leg started to cramp after working the clutch for an hour. There's a lot of noise, especially at highway speeds where the car cruises with the tach needle pointing due north. I arrived home a bit more exhausted than usual.

Manager, Production, Eddie Sabatini: This special edition Subie is a LOT of fun to drive. Rugged and powerful, I really felt like it wanted to play rough. I'm not convinced that the extra $12,000+ make the limited-production RA that much better to drive than the classic STI, but they're only making 500 of these so don't worry about having to make that decision. I like this carbon fiber wing of the RA better than the STI but the infotainment system still needs an upgrade. I was also expecting to be smacked in the face with a ton of STI and RA badging - inside and out - but the branding seemed surprisingly restrained for being the beast at the top end of the WRX spectrum.

Overall I think the look is fantastic. I tend to think that the STI is a bit too juvenile looking but I didn't find myself thinking that with the RA. Perhaps it was the gray carbon fiber roof, black mirror, and slimmer spoiler that create a more subtle profile?

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