The 2018 Subaru WRX STI is one of the swiftest and best handling compact cars on the market. It’s not very comfortable and quiet, but it’s a reasonably priced performance car that you can get.
You might expect some rough edges in cars that were born out of Subaru’s decade’s participation in rally racing. But the real surprise is how to tame these cars really are. The WRX STI is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is optimized for performance while delivering a decent fuel economy.
The 2018 WRX STI also offers generous modern technologies and conveniences, either as standard or optional equipment, including a choice of two audio systems, two multimedia systems, navigation, smartphone application integration and driver aids such as automatic emergency braking, lane warning departures and blind-spot monitoring. These features along with comfortable seating, a spacious cabin and excellent visibility, make the WRX STI a legitimately practical daily driver and family car.
The 2018 WRX STI receives several useful changes including an updated front-end design, revised suspension and steering tuning, and thicker glass, seals and insulation aimed at better suppressing road noise. There also a few new features in the EyeSight safety package.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI is a four-door, high-performance five-passenger sedan offered in two trim levels: base and Limited. The WRX standard reviewed separately.
Standard equipment for the base WRX STI includes performance tires, 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, more aggressive suspension tuning, front and rear limited-slip differentials, automatic high beams, LED headlights and foglights, heated side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connection, a six-speaker media system with USB and auxiliary inputs, satellite and HD radio, CD player, and smartphone app integration.
Options include keyless ignition and entry, Recaro sport seats, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat.
The STI Limited adds keyless ignition and entry, a sunroof, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, an eight-way power driver seat and the premium audio system with navigation. The only option is a low-profile trunk lip spoiler. EyeSight is not offered for the WRX STI.
Various dealer-installed options are available for the WRX STI, such as a carbon-fiber trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior lighting accents, unique shift knobs and short-throw shifter.
With more powerful and larger engine, the 2018 Subaru WRX STI raises the bar a few more pegs. The combination of limited-slip differentials, strong Brembo brakes and a tuned six-speed manual creating a truly serious performance sedan. It’s a blast to drive and makes the most of its all-wheel-drive traction. However, the STI has a very stiff ride quality, which is jarring even for this class of car.
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder “boxer” engine that generates 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission you can get with the STI.
All WRX STI is equipped with standard all-wheel-drive with a Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD). This system allows the driver to switch between manual and automated center differential locking, which directly impacts the car’s handling. The DCCD system will only use electronic control, for a quicker, smoother response, in place of the combination of mechanical and electronic limited slip differential control used in older models.
In performance testing, the 2018 Subaru WRX STI accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and 13 second to reach 100 mph. Top speed of 159 mph. That’s quicker than a Golf R manual (5.3 seconds), but still behind the Golf R with DSG automatic, which rocketed to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.
EPA fuel economy for the STI is 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway) for the STI.
Inside, the 2018 Subaru WRX STI is clearly emphasizing on the performance, not the interior. As a performance car, the driving position is precise, as are the firm, nicely bolstered sports seats. The thin roof pillar provides excellent outward visibility, and large side mirrors make it easy to see conditions on the sides and rear.
The interior also has a basic design and layout, with simple and easy-to-use controls. The audio quality and infotainment system was previously drawback for Subaru, but with the current WRX generation, things have improved. Especially improved is the base audio system and the standard 6.2-inch screen.
The 2018 Subaru WRX STI has 12 cubic feet of trunk space. This is below average for small sedans. And most of the WRX STI competitors are offered as more versatile hatchbacks, such as the VW GTI which can hold up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats.
Release Dates and Price
The official price for the base WRX STI Starting at $36,955 (including $860 destination). The top-of-line STI Limited starts at $41,755.