It’s not often that you drive a Subaru that’s rarer than most Ferraris or Lamborghinis. And in its own modest way, the 2019 Subaru STI S209 is as special as such limited-edition offerings from highfalutin’ brands. The S209 is Subaru’s rally-wrapped gift to America, the first S-Line model from the brand’s vaunted STI performance division to be exported to the United States. Only 209 copies are being built, all bound for the U.S. beginning in November, and it’s a dandy: The fastest, sharpest-handling, most sophisticated WRX ever to grace our shores. It's what we get for making the current WRX the best-selling version ever, with sales increasing every year since its 2015 debut. Good job, America. Don’t confuse this car with a typical “STI”-branded Impreza WRX, which are all produced alongside other Subarus in Gunma, Japan. This “STI” refers to the scrappy, stand-alone performance unit called Subaru Tecnica International, now with barely 120 employees, that’s been responsible for beloved Japanese-market “S-cars” such as the S202 through S208. It owns a combined five manufacturer’s and driver’s titles in the World Rally Championship, and more recently, multiple class wins at the 24 Hours Nürburgring. STI’s small shop in Kiryu, Japan, is building just two or three S209’s per day, and their handiwork – right down to hand-polished exhaust tips – is memorialized with a pair of serialized production plaques: one in the cabin and one atop the 341-horsepower, 2.5-liter boxer four engine. Subaru considered using its 2.0-liter turbo, but went with a modified version of the 2.5-liter EJ25 used in the WRX STI Type RA, because the larger-displacement motor meant less turbo lag. There's no typical plastic cover, so the gloriously exposed engine flaunts a redesigned intake with a conical air filter and enlarged ducts. An enlarged turbocharger is designed to STI specs by the respected aftermarket company HKS, which lifts the Type RA’s boost from 16.2 to 18.9 psi. A catback exhaust system further reduces back pressure by 17 percent relative the Type RA, and 50 percent versus a basic STI. The S209's resulting 341 horses and 330 pound-feet of torque compares with 310 hp and 290 pound-feet in the 2019 WRX STI. Subaru had to quash its ambitious plans for forged pistons and connecting rods, due to potential durability concerns that the company now suspects was a non-issue. Nevertheless, Subaru ultimately decided to take no chances with this special, high-profile car, and went with cast components instead, with no resulting loss in horsepower. Subaru cites a 4.9-second squirt to 60 mph, and a 13.3-second quarter mile. Owners should actually see faster times in the real world, because Subaru records company acceleration runs with more than 350 pounds of added weight aboard, to mimic a human passenger and other additional cargo. Top speed is a lusty 162 mph. With power present and accounted for, STI engineers went to work on the body, chassis and aerodynamics. Bulging fenders broaden the Subie by 1.7 inches, making room for wider wheels and tires. New …
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|MPG||17 City / 22 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||310 @ 6000 rpm|
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