For Subaru lovers in the United States the STI badge represents the highest level of performance from a Subaru vehicle. While a WRX is undoubtedly a quick and capable vehicle, the STI turns everything up a few notches. But the dirty secret that all Subaru enthusiasts have to live with, is the fact that in Japan Subaru offers a line of vehicles that are even more potent than the STI. These STIs are denoted as the S-line. But US buyers are no longer being left in the dark.
Subaru has unveiled the first ever S model to be sold in the US. The 2019 Subaru STI S209. The S209 is the most powerful vehicle ever from Subaru Tecnica International and is produced exclusively for the U.S. Hey, if you’re gonna make us wait this long, thanks for making us feel special.
The S209 is the 10th vehicle in a long line of S’s starting with the S201 in 2000 and the most recent s208. Unlike the models in other markets the S209 keeps the EJ25 flat-four offered here in America vs the 2.0 liter engine offered in other markets.
The turbo is manufactured by HKS, has a max boost pressure of 18 psi vs 16.2 psi in the WRX STI and should be good for an estimated 341 horsepower. The forged pistons and connecting rods are lighter and stronger. There’s a new high flow intake system that features an intercooler water spray system that lowers the intercooler temperature and is operated manually by paddles on the steering-wheel. A similar system was offered on the 2004-2007 WRX STI. A high flow fuel pump and larger injectors ensure the S209 can provide adequate fuel for the increased airflow. The exhaust system gets a 17 percent reduction in airflow resistance from a high performance muffler and the 4-inch stainless steel exhaust tips add to the appearance and sound.
The S209 gets the wide-body treatment, which increases the overall width by 1.7 inches. This increase allows for extra room to fit the 265/35 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A tires that wrap 19×9 inch BBS wheels. The broad and bulging body hides Bilstein dampers, stiffer coil springs, a 20 mm rear stabilizer bar and pillow type bushings for the front and rear lateral links. The crossmember is reinforced as well as the rear subframes. I could go on but I won’t. Essentially STI has added a number of upgrades to improve the stability, ride, handling and steering over the standard STI. A lot of the upgrades get their inspiration from the WRX STI Nurburgring Challenge Racecar. Lateral grip goes beyond 1.0g. Acceleration is halted by Brembo brakes. Cross drilled steel rotors and 6-piston monoblock front calipers and 2-piston monoblock rear calipers. As you might imagine, the abundant vents all serve a purpose. Front vents offer increased engine cooling and rear fender vents help reduce drag.
In order to keep the driver connected to the vehicle, the S209 only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission connected to a Subaru Symmetrical AWD sysetm. LSD is offered in both the front and rear. A driver controlled center Differential (DCCD), Active torque vectoring and vehicle dynamics control are also available. The SI-Drive system has been recalibrated and offers three modes: Intelligent (I), Sport (S), and Sport Sharp (#). I offers improved fuel economy, S offers optimized power balance, and S# is designed for the best acceleration. Although STI suggests using Sport for track driving because it offers smoother inputs for better control.
The steering wheel gets an STI badge versus the normal Subaru stars and is wrapped in suede with silver stitching. There’s a S209 serial number on the center console. Recaro bucket seats have silver inserts.
Pricing should be announced closer to the time the S209 goes on sale in late 2019. Color options will be WR Blued Pearl with gray wheels and Crystal White Pearl with gold wheels. Only about 200 models will be made exclusively for the US market.