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(STI)LL Got It!

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On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

(STI)LL Got It!

As most of us have found out, slowly over time our bodies begin to disappoint us. With age tends to come a slowing of our speed and reaction. Weight begins to become more and more difficult to lose,  joints tend to creak and complain in ways unimaginable in years prior, and, for some, hair begins to exist more and more inside their head rather than on it.  

It seems that (automotive) art, does, in fact, imitate life. Subaru’s top dog, the WRX STI, burst on the scene in 2004 with a huge wing, gold BBS wheels, 300 horsepower, and a ton of boy-racer attitude aimed directly at its Mitsubishi made enemy, the EVO. After four years of street fighting, the STI aged like all the rest of us, and it was time for a change.  

In 2008 the STI did grow up, and out. The super-Subie did get more refined (as most of us do as we age), by smoothing out its ride, dialing up less twitch on its steering, and a going through big body change. It seems that in its middle age the STI got … Well … Big.  In hatch only form, the 2008-2010 STI gained a bit in the way of handling due to suspension improvements and chassis rigidity, but it lost a lot more of its hardcore following.  With only a five horsepower increase, it seemed the round shape was taken more as a sign of the STI letting itself go.  

However, for 2011 Subaru has put its Alpha model back in the gym.  Although the quoted 0-60 time for the STI is still a conservative 4.9 seconds, and its 2.5 liter turbo engine is still pumping at 14.7 psi of boost and putting down the same 305 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm as the outgoing model had, the car itself has taken on a wholly new, yet familiar shape, and can now fit in those old jeans again.  

With age comes wisdom, and Subaru has taken what it has learned about the STI since 2004 and used the best lessons in the 2011 incarnation. The interior has carried over the refined 2008 model’s upgrades, with a built in navigation system, comfortably bolstered sport seats, and a no-nonsense cockpit that conveys the car’s main purpose: Going in a hurry. The big news is just how much of a hurry the new model can go around a road course. Essentially every aspect of the car’s suspension has been beefed up, bulked up, and improved.

New spherical bearings for the lower control arms provide more resistance to fore and aft forces which improve tracking of the front wheels due to better camber and toe stiffness. Those wheels are now lighter by 4.4 pounds and an inch wider BBS forged pieces, measuring 17-inches by 8-inches and standard on all models except the non-Limited sedan. With wider wheels, come wider tires: 235/45/17 to be exact, up ten millimeters from the previous model. Speaking of wider, both the front and rear track have been expanded (1.3 inches up front and 1.5 inches in the rear).

Anti-roll bars have both been increased 21 millimeters in the front and 19 millimeters in the rear (both up one millimeter from last year). Although it seems slight, every little bit helps the STI wring out a 0.93 g of grip on the skidpad, which is up 0.03 from last year. It should also be noted that despite the increased handling, Subaru claims that ride quality is exactly as it was a year ago.

The six speed manual goes unchanged, as well as the all-wheel drive system. Even with the drive train remaining almost completely untouched and acceleration times exactly the same, the car has increased its top end by three miles per hour to a very impressive 158mph. The STI does hold onto signs of its youth, much like a barbed wire bicep tattoo, with its very distinctive wing that still recalls an F1 car more than a four door sports sedan. Base price is a fairly reasonable for a 305 horsepower import at $34,720 and is about on par with its lesser powered EVO adversary.

Although it may have lost a step for a few years, the STI has gotten itself back together. Through age, the highest power Impreza has learned what it is and what it isn’t. Nine times out of ten it will not beat a ZO6 or GT500 in a drag race, but what it can do is compete to be the fastest sedan around any racetrack in the world. The STI is meant to be a road course champion, and that is what it continues to become more and more though its model maturity. Even after six years, it seems that the STI has still got it.

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