2019 Subaru WRX STI: It’s Got Character

Strong points
  • Thrilling performance
  • Impressive handling
  • Oozes with character
Weak points
  • Noise, vibration and harshness aplenty
  • Fuel consumption and super unleaded required
  • Unjustifiable price gap between the WRX and the STI
Full report

At the end of the game of your favourite hockey team, after trailing by a few goals and then come back to beat its opponent in the third period, the head coach will undoubtedly say this during the post-game press conference: “our team showed character.”

If we regularly follow the ups and downs of our sports team, we’ll invariably figure out which players have character and who doesn’t. And in the automotive world, very few cars have as much character as the Subaru WRX—especially if it wears an STI badge.

It’s a powerful car, with a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 310 horsepower—up by five for 2019—and 290 pound-feet of torque. Its all-wheel drivetrain can be manually configured to send more torque to the front axle or the rear one, according to the driver’s preference. No slushbox here, as the only transmission available in the STI is a close-ratio, six-speed manual.

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

The WRX STI is noisy, whether it’s idling or accelerating at wide-open throttle, while vibration and harshness is part of the driving experience. All the time. It takes off with a violence that triggers goosebumps, and sticks to the pavement in curves with exceptional force. Behind the wheel of the STI, it’s impossible to drive like a senior citizen. Its dynamic abilities are downright impressive, and like a hockey that shows character, the car always gives its 110% during each drive.

While we appreciate that quality in a professional sports player, because victory is the only thing that counts, it’s very different in a road car. On the everyday commute, the 2019 Subaru WRX STI is exhausting. It rattles its occupants on all types of road surfaces except newly paved highways—a rare sight in Canada—and the exhaust drone is omnipresent. As for fuel economy, we averaged 12.0 L/100 km during our test. The engine requires super unleaded by the way.

The seats offer great lateral support in addition to being quite stylish, with a mix of leather and faux-suede upholstery as well as red accenting. We also like the red seat belts. The dashboard is functional and most controls are within easy reach, while the infotainment system is modern. However, some of the latter’s on-screen buttons are too small, and since the car settles down, they’re hard to tap on while we’re driving.

Photo: Michel Deslauriers

And then there’s the car’s styling. Younger folks probably like it, but it’s the older car buyers that can afford the insurance premiums. That rear wing is a love-it-or-hate-it addition, but luckily, it can be swapped for a more subtle trunklid spoiler on the Sport-tech trim. Oh, and the STI is the last model in Subaru’s lineup that can’t be equipped with its EyeSight suite of advanced driving aids. Not that typical STI buyers would necessarily want it, though.

The STI is all about character. But like a good hockey player, it costs quite a lump of dough with an MSRP from $40,195 before freight and delivery charges. The “regular” 268-horsepower WRX is almost as fast, consumes less fuel and its engine seems to be more reliable, and costs almost $10,000 less. Also, a finesse player like the Volkswagen Golf R, despite not having as much character, scores as many goals as the STI without always ending up in the penalty box.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

NewsSubaru Launches the Exclusive 2019 WRX Raiu Edition in Canada
A new, limited-edition variant of the sport sedan has been added to the Japanese brand’s line-up. As a matter of fact, the 2019 Subaru WRX Raiu Edition will be a Canadian exclusivity with only 100 units produced. Based on the WRX Sport-tech RS, the Raiu Edition—which means thunderstorm in Japanese—gets …
News2019 Subaru WRX and WRX STI: Same Base Price, More Connectivity
The Japanese manufacturer has just announced the 2019 editions of its WRX and WRX STI sport sedans, and although they’re ripe for a redesign, they’ll soldier on without any major changes for the next year. And they are now on sale. However, the standard-issue infotainment system now gets a 6.5-inch …
Test Drives2018 Subaru WRX: With a CVT, it's Weird
The Subaru WRX is a car that needs little introduction. Ever since its debut in the early 2000s, the rally-derived Japanese sport compact quickly earned the respect of enthusiasts simply by the amount of performance it offered for the price. A turbocharged boxer engine coupled to a full-time all-wheel drive …
DetroitSubaru Launches the 341-Horsepower WRX STI S209
To start off the new year, Subaru unveiled an even more powerful version of its famous WRX STI. Baptized S209, it develops no less than 341 horsepower, 31 more than in the regular STI. It’s all generated by the same 2.5-litre, flat-four engine, but here, it benefits from a larger …
MontrealSubaru Launches the 2019 BRZ Raiu Edition at the Montreal Auto Show
After unveiling the 2019 Subaru WRX Raiu Edition last fall, the Japanese automaker strikes back with the BRZ Raiu Edition on display at the Montreal Auto Show. It’s yet another limited-edition, Canadian-exclusive car, but that resembles the BRZ Series.Gray available in the United States, also in limited quantities. The Raiu …
News2020 Subaru WRX and WRX STI Get Minor Updates
We’re anxiously waiting for the next generation of the Subaru WRX and WRX STI built on the new Subaru Global Platform and featuring a fresh new design. In the meantime, the wild twins are returning for 2020 with minor changes and tweaks to maintain interest among fans and potential customers.
NewsRumour: 400-hp Engine Coming to Subaru WRX STI
A new generation of the almighty Subaru WRX STI is in the works and the latest details and rumours surrounding this model are quite exciting. As a reminder, the brand’s halo car received a few cosmetic tweaks this year, but its turbocharged 2.5-litre engine still produces 310 horsepower and 290 …
Test Drives2020 Subaru WRX Sport-tech RS: A Mighty Fine Driver’s Car
The WRX STI is Subaru’s halo car and its most desirable product—at least in the eyes of sporty driving enthusiasts. A bit less flashy and not quite as sophisticated from a technical standpoint, the base WRX is still a treat, not to mention that it’s perfectly suited to Canadian weather.
BuzzThis Subaru Impreza 22B STi For Sale Costs Half a Million
As many JDM enthusiasts know, Subaru produced a two-door widebody variant of the Impreza WRX STi in 1998. Called 22B STi, this model commemorated the 40th anniversary of Subaru and its third consecutive manufacturer’s title in the World Rally Championship (WRC). The 400 units built for the Japanese market sold …