Subaru introduced a significantly upgraded WRX STI model line for 2018, spearheaded by the WRX® STI® Type RA, a limited-production model inspired by a specially prepared WRX STI’s July 2017 record-setting lap of Germany’s famed Nürburgring racetrack. Engineered by Subaru Tecnica International, Inc. for driving enthusiasts seeking higher performance, the 2018 WRX STI Type RA is limited to 500 units and will arrive at Subaru retailers in early 2018.
The RA designation stands for “Record Attempt,” a designation given to special Subaru models over the years. The newest is the Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special, which in July 2017 set a new lap record for a four-door sedan at Germany’s famed 12.8-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife race track, achieving a time of 6:57.5. The Prodrive-built time attack car is equipped with a rally spec 2.0-liter SUBARU BOXER® engine and Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
The first Subaru RA model was a competition version of the 1989 Subaru Legacy that broke the FIA World Speed Endurance Record by clocking over 62,000 miles in 18 days and setting a top speed record of 138 mph.
The 2018 WRX STI Type RA delivers increased performance through weight reduction, plus suspension and engine upgrades. The numbered, limited edition model comes standard with a carbon fiber roof panel, deleted spare tire, a carbon fiber pedestal wing and lightweight BBS® 19-in. forged alloy wheels shod with 245/35R19 Yokohama ADVAN Sport® tires.
The limited edition WRX STI Type RA increases horsepower of the STI’s 2.5-liter turbocharged BOXER engine to an estimated 310 horsepower (compared to 305 hp standard) with the help of an STI-specified new cold air intake, high flow performance exhaust, retuned ECU and stronger pistons. (Full specifications will be announced later this year.)
The 6-speed manual transmission features a revised 3rd gear ratio and a short-throw shifter. The weight reduction, additional horsepower and revised gearing all contribute to faster acceleration. Handling for the WRX STI Type RA is upgraded with Bilstein® STI Sport Suspension featuring special Bilstein dampers for the inverted-strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. A modified Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system gives the WRX STI Type RA enhanced stability control to keep it on its intended path.
The WRX STI Type RA shares Active Torque Vectoring with the other WRX STI models, and all WRX STI models gain a major brake system upgrade for 2018. The Brembo Performance Brake System now features stronger monoblock 6-piston calipers in front, monoblock 2-piston calipers in the rear and larger, cross-drilled rotors all around for better heat dissipation. New brake pads provide greater surface area for improved braking feel and fade resistance. The calipers feature an exclusive silver finish on the Type RA and are yellow-painted on the STI and STI Limited.
All 2018 WRX STI feature a revised version of Driver Controlled Center Differential All-Wheel Drive. The DCCD system, which previously used a combination of mechanical and electronic center limited slip differential control, now exclusively uses electronic control for quicker and smoother response.
The WRX STI base and Limited models feature their own revised suspension tuning, along with their first-ever 19-in. wheels. The alloy wheels feature a striking Y-shaped spoke design and are shod with 245/35R19 tires that help raise cornering performance while also giving the STI an even more aggressive stance.
The Look of a Record Breaker The WRX STI Type RA is immediately identified by an exclusive Cherry Blossom Red accent around both the front mesh grille and new rear bumper cover. An STI front underspoiler has also been added for better stability at high speeds. The exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, a roof-mounted shark fin antenna and STI fender badges now come in a black finish. The rear deck lid displays the Type RA badge.
In addition to the eye-catching exterior, the WRX STI Type RA cabin features Recaro® performance design front seats with red bolsters and stitching as well as an embossed STI logo on the head restraints. The signature red stitching and accent trim is visible throughout the cabin. The steering wheel is wrapped in Ultrasuede® for better grip and has a black gloss-finish center spoke insert with STI logo. Push-button start with Keyless Access is also standard equipment. The 2018 WRX STI Type RA will be available in WR Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica and Crystal White Pearl. Each of the 500 WRX STI Type RA models will be individually numbered with a plaque mounted on the center console.
Improved Usability with a Sporting Edge A restyled front fascia gives the 2018 WRX STI a sportier attitude, highlighted by a larger lower grille opening. All STI trims feature redesigned LED Steering Responsive Headlights that help illuminate curves in nighttime driving.
The everyday usability that has contributed to WRX STI popularity is made even better for 2018. All models feature upgraded interior materials, rear seat armrest with cup holders, redesigned interior door grips and faster remote trunk opening. The WRX STI Limited features standard Recaro seats, which are optional on the base trim. For greater versatility, the 2018 WRX STI base and Limited models feature new roof rack mounting brackets. The WRX STI Limited comes standard with Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
New measures that reduce unwanted noise include thicker door glass, revised door sealing and a foam-filled windshield header beam. A new, larger high-definition multi-function display (5.9-in. vs. 4.3-in. before) makes it easier to see vehicle functions at a glance. WRX STI models feature an 8-way power driver’s seat and come standard with SUBARU STARLINK™ 7.0” Multimedia Plus System.
Solid Build The WRX STI body structure makes extensive use of high-tensile steel and features special stiffening elements at key locations. The inverted-strut front suspension system exhibits high bending resistance for quicker and more consistent performance under hard cornering. Aluminum front lower L-arms reduce unsprung vehicle weight. The aluminum alloy lower control arms use pillow ball-type joint bushings and mounts, and the rear suspension lateral links also use this type of bushing.
Solid rubber engine mounts help to minimize engine movement which, in turn, enhances handling agility. The hydraulic power-assisted steering yields 2.5 turns lock-to-lock, providing exceptionally quick response, which Subaru benchmarked against top-handling sports cars.
SI-DRIVE Tailors Performance The Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) powertrain management system allows the WRX STI driver to tailor the car’s driving characteristics by choosing from among three selectable modes – Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp – using a rotary dial on the center console. SI-DRIVE alters vehicle performance characteristics by regulating the engine control module and by fine-tuning the electronic throttle control system.
With Intelligent mode selected, SI-DRIVE provides a more relaxed throttle response curve, making it useful for commuting in traffic. Sport mode yields quick throttle responses and powerful, linear acceleration, making it ideal for everyday sporty driving. In Sport Sharp mode, SI-DRIVE modifies the engine’s electronic throttle mapping to deliver super-quick throttle response and put the power down sooner.
Sophisticated DCCD All-Wheel Drive The WRX STI is exclusively equipped with the Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. This sophisticated system uses planetary-type center differential gears with a nominal 41:59 torque split. New for 2018, the center differential is exclusively electronically controlled, compared to a combination of mechanical and electronic control used before.
Sensor inputs that include steering angle, throttle position, RPM, lateral G, yaw, brake, ABS and wheel speed govern torque transfer response. A helical-type limited-slip front differential and a TORSEN® torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential optimize side-to-side torque distribution, helping to prevent the inside wheels from slipping during cornering.
The DCCD AWD system features three automatic modes. “Auto” mode provides the best all-around performance for most drivers and circumstances, varying the front/rear torque distribution automatically via the limited-slip type center differential in response to vehicle acceleration, deceleration, steering angle, cornering force and wheel slippage. The “Auto- ” mode makes less use of the center limited-slip differential (less locking factor) and holds the torque bias to the rear more frequently, which yields more handling-oriented steering characteristics.
For driving on slippery surfaces, such as gravel or snow, the “Auto+” mode tightens the center limited-slip differential. In the DCCD AWD system’s manual mode, the driver can select one of six center differential locking levels (up to 50:50 maximum) to optimize AWD performance to suit the driving situation and surface conditions. Active Torque Vectoring, an enhancement of the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system, can apply brake pressure to the inside front wheel to facilitate more neutral cornering.
The VDC system offers three settings: Normal, Traction and Off. “Normal” provides the highest level of system engagement, utilizing traction control (TCS) and VDC. The Traction setting is more performance-oriented, employing less-restrictive VDC and disengaging the engine torque-reduction control. The “Off” setting disengages the VDC and the traction control functions. Active Torque Vectoring remains engaged for Normal and Traction modes.
Premium Cabin Rich-looking appointments and details abound inside the WRX STI, including Ultrasuede seating surfaces and soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest. The flat-bottom, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel integrates switches for audio and Bluetooth® controls. The front performance design seats use a whiplash protection design.
A standard 60/40-split fold-down rear seat features a new fold-down armrest for 2018. Standard equipment for the WRX STI includes dual-zone automatic climate control and the All-Weather Package (dual-mode heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer). The WRX STI Limited offers the luxury of leather-trimmed upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, power moonroof, Welcome Lighting and Keyless Access and Push Button Start with PIN Code Access (optional for base model).
SUBARU STARLINK™ Multimedia The standard SUBARU STARLINK 7” Multimedia Plus System uses a high-resolution 7-in. LCD screen and includes Bluetooth hands-free phone, audio streaming, and text messaging connectivity; dual USB ports; and a 4-month free trial of SiriusXM® All Access Radio and SiriusXM Travel Link®. The list of features continues with AM/FM stereo with HD Radio®, single-disc CD player, smartphone integration with Aha™ and Pandora®, iPod® control capability, and auxiliary input jack. The 7-in. screen provides the display for the rear vision camera. This system also offers Siri® Eyes Free that works with the vehicle’s voice control systems.
The SUBARU STARLINK 7.0” Multimedia Navigation System, which is standard on WRX STI Limited and optional for the base model, builds on that package with navigation featuring voice-activated controls and three years of complimentary map updates as well as a 3-year subscription to SiriusXM Traffic® and SiriusXM Travel Link.
Subaru produces a full line of all-wheel drive sedans, crossovers and SUVs, along with the rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car.