Sports sedans don’t get much bet­ter than this

Raw, ana­log sports sedan the last of dy­ing breed

StarMetro Vancouver - - THE FEED - Sam Mceach­ern

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.

SAM MCEACH­ERN/AUTOGUIDE.COM

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