Assimilated city dweller

2013 Subaru WRX STI Review

By Miranda Lightstone
2013 Subaru WRX STI Review

Summary Rating: 76%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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Assimilation is often inevitable. Move to a new community, city, country and you’re going to start to act like the locals to integrate yourself into their way of life -- to fit in. Despite our best efforts to keep our heritage, to keep our past, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Enter the 2013 Subaru WRX STI.

Vehicles often carry with them a history, a reason that brought them into existence. Usually, a storied past includes racing of some sort, be it Le Mans, F1 or the World Rally Championship (WRC). The technology and components that helped the predecessors of these current road cars succeed on their rightful tracks trickle down in some way to the cars we park in our driveways.

Assimilation might be inevitable, but I’d hoped Subaru would have tried a little harder to keep its STI closer to its roots instead of selling out to make the car “fit in.”


What is a Subaru WRX STI?
Essentially, the STI (Subaru Tecnica International) is the top variant of Subaru’s Impreza. Built on the already more powerful WRX, the STI added sportier “rally driven” suspension, steering and engine components. Upping power and performance as well as adding to the aggressive look of the WRX with larger wheel arches, a bigger rear spoiler and larger hood scoop.

While the STI version of the WRX has been available in Japan since the mid-‘90s, we didn’t see this beefed up version in North American till 2004.

2013 Subaru WRX STI 3/4 view
Built on the already more powerful WRX, the STI added sportier “rally driven” suspension, steering and engine components.(Photo: Subaru)

2013 Subaru WRX STI Price and Specs
The 2013 Subaru WRX STI houses essentially the same engine as the WRX, a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder with high-capacity intercooler. This set-up pushes the STI’s output to 305 horsepower (as opposed to the WRX’s 265) and 290 lb-ft of torque.

With a base price of $38,195 (for the sedan and including big Brembo brakes ands Subaru’s SI-DRIVE engine management system), the 2013 Subaru WRX STI is pushing that $40k mark, and I’m not sure it’s worth the difference over the base WRX.

2013 Subaru WRX STI engine
The 2013 Subaru WRX STI houses a turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder with high-capacity intercooler. This set-up pushes the STI’s output to 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Subaru)

Driving the 2013 Subaru WRX STI
I wanted to be impressed with the Subaru WRX STI. And here’s why: it’s heritage. Where it comes from should be so much more present in where it is today, and it’s just not. It is so far removed from the raw, balls-out rally history its been built on, that it’s almost sad.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, so I’ll try again. My husband drives his ’04 Subaru Impreza WRX every day. It has a 227 horsepower 2.0L engine and a 5-speed transmission. I drove it the week I had the 2013 STI hoping to feel a difference. Besides more pull in the ‘13’s top gears, I felt none. In fact, I feel like our old WRX has more character and heritage than the new model ever will.

The 2013 Subaru WRX STI has been moulded into a city-capable “ricer.” It’s no longer the arrogant I-can-handle-anything AWD sedan it used to be. Sure, it has a big wing but that’s about it.

I will admit I enjoyed the exhaust note of the 2013 Subaru WRX STI. At least it sounded the part, but even that got a bit drone-y after a week behind the wheel. I just wasn’t thrilled to be behind the wheel, I didn’t look forward to my next time behind the wheel, I felt no thrill.

Of course, the 6-speed manual transmission was a pleasure and I loved the feedback from the clutch; finally one that didn’t feel invisible under my left foot. The STI felt heavy in corners and not as lithe as I wanted, but it held its ground when asked.

Driving the 2013 Subaru WRX STI isn’t unpleasant -- just disappointing.

2013 Subaru WRX STI 3/4 view
The 2013 Subaru WRX STI has been moulded into a city-capable “ricer.” It’s no longer the arrogant I-can-handle-anything AWD sedan it used to be. (Photo: Subaru)

Inside and Out of the 2013 Subaru WRX STI

Subaru’s front fascias have been a point of contention across the auto industry for years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a manufacturer that’s changed their front nose as often as Subaru. Everyone has their favourite: bug-eye, hawk-eye, etc. I’ve not been adverse to their changes, but I think they took the “normal” look a bit too far this time.

While the STI version of the WRX is more aggressive, it’s still docile in my opinion, and garish in the wrong ways (read: that wing!). The hood scoop is too integrated and the front lip isn’t angry enough. This is their rally child, their gravel eater, and it looks just as at home in a condo underground lot. No good.

Inside the 2013 Subaru WRX STI is a bit of a disaster. It’s clear you do not spend the near-$40k on this vehicle for the interior design. While the rally style STI-stitched seats are comfortable, the end.. The instrument cluster is a melange of different coloured bits and pieces, and the Bluetooth mic is actually a miniature external microphone that dangles from the ceiling above the driver. Seriously.

2013 Subaru WRX STI cabin
Inside the 2013 Subaru WRX STI is a bit of a disaster. It’s clear you do not spend the near-$40k on this vehicle for the interior design. While the rally style STI-stitched seats are comfortable, the end... (Photo: Subaru)

Comparing the 2013 Subaru WRX STI
When it comes to comparing the 2013 Subaru WRX STI the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution immediately comes to mind. With the same rally-bred heritage, I have to say the Evo actually offered a more exciting ride than the STI.

Here’s hoping the new WRX STI from Subaru will forgo all assimilation and they’ll let it truly embrace its culture and be the performance car we know it can be.

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