HEAD OUT AND HAVE A PEDAL
The six-speed manual keeps the STI percolating
1. THE 2018 VERSION IS EASY TO SPOT
It wouldn’t be a makeover without a change of front bumpers and the “new” STI follows the formula with a deeper front skirt and LED fog lights. The multi-function display inside has been upgraded from 4.3 inches to 5.9 and there are glossy piano black finishes around the instrument panel, gear shift surround and window buttons on the doors. Subaru hasn’t upped the price, meaning the STI costs no more than $57,205 on the road. The tall rear wing is a $300 option.
2. UPDATES ARE MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
Changes to the STI’s suspension actually deliver the claimed improvements, reducing body roll and improving ride comfort without compromising the car’s ability to cling on through the corners. The sedan now rides on standard 19-inch wheels and there are sixpiston Brembo brakes upfront and twin-piston jobs at the back to boost stopping power. Adaptive LED headlamps — which move the light spread as the steering wheel is turned — are a welcome addition for drivers in rural or poorly lit areas.
3. IT’S STARTING TO SHOW ITS AGE
The STI doesn’t use the modular chassis that underpins newer models such as the Impreza and there are no plans to change for the next couple of years. It is still a hugely competent car but would benefit from the new platform’s lighter and stiffer construction. Likewise the engine hasn’t been fettled, though the centre diff is now electronically controlled. Play with the settings on a road and you’ll feel little, if any difference; find a course with marginal traction and they’re immediately evident.
4. THREE PEDALS ARE ONLY WAY TO GO
The STI is a manual-only vehicle. That’s not a bad thing — the six-speed gearbox is a delight to operate once it is run in (it can be notchy just off the showroom floor) — and enables owners to shift cogs to keep the boxer engine percolating at premium pressure. It may not be fuel efficient to do so but that’s not why you bought the STI. The downside is a manual transmission limits the Subaru’s target audience — ever-fewer buyers are prepared to change gears themselves and it is hard to blame them if they commute in a metropolitan area.
5. IT IS HABITABLE RATHER THAN HOT
By hot hatch standards (yes, we know, the STI is a sedan but it competes against that set), this is one of the more forgiving daily drivers. It still pounds over sharp-edged bumps but is a marshmallow when compared to a Ford Focus RS, which can punish passengers. The flip side is the Focus will hose it in a 0-100km/h sprint and match it through the twisty bits.