Sports sedans don’t get much better than this
Raw, analog sports sedan the last of dying breed
There are few things I like more in this world than a good honest sports sedan and motorsports. So when Subaru rung me to ask if I wanted to take a 2019 Subaru WRX STI to watch a rallycross race, I jumped at the opportunity.
This wasn’t just any old race I was going to see. I was going to watch Canada’s most famous racing export, Jacques Villeneuve, compete in his first-ever American Rallycross Event with Subaru. What’s more, this race was being held in Trois-Rivieres, Que. — just a two-hour drive from Villeneuve’s hometown of SaintJean-sur-Richelieu. For me, that meant a seven-hour drive on the Friday of a traffic-laden long weekend in the stiffly sprung WRX STI.
Well, at least I had a lot of time to test the car. The 2019 Subaru WRX STI delivers a driving experience that’s unrefined in the best of ways, Sam McEachern writes.
Based on the previous-generation Impreza, the WRX STI’s platform was introduced way back in 2011. This would be a downside for most new vehicles, but for the STI it means it drives like almost nothing else on sale today. The STI delivers a driving experience that’s unrefined in the best of ways.
It was clear from looking at
Villeneuve’s car that it didn’t have much in common with mine. The WRX STI that Subaru races in American Rallycross is built by Vermont SportsCar — the racing specialists that run the Subaru Rally Team USA. It has huge fender flares, a full FIA-spec roll cage and a 600 hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine paired with a sequential transmission.
That’s not to say there are zero differences between the
car Villeneuve was racing and the one I drove up in. Both feature an electronic centre differential, which Subaru refers to as the Driver Controlled Center Differential. In the road car, this system features six settings, each sending a different amount of power to the front and rear axles. This allows the driver to adjust the handling characteristics based on the surface conditions — helpful if you encounter a loose surface like gravel, snow or mud. In Villeneuve’s race car, the system is controlled by a racing-specific control unit that gives the driver even more control over the differential settings.
The 2019 Subaru WRX STI is a raw, analog sports sedan that’s the last of a dying breed. With manual transmission cars disappearing from the market today and almost everything pledging to turn into a plug-in, you don’t have much time left to buy a brand-new car with a talkative hydraulic steering rack, a six-speed manual transmission and unapologetically stiff suspension. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you count yourselves among those who it is for, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Personally, I fall into the latter of those camps. I’m 25, though. Ask me how I feel in five years and I just may opt for something a bit easier on my back. 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer four-cylinder 310 hp, 290 lb-ft of torque manual drive
14.1 city, 10.5 highway, 12.5 combined
Talkative steering Sharp handling No compromise ethos
Suspension is a bit stiff Poor navigation and infotainment system Loud road and engine noise