Performance Cars

Subaru's STI S209 is America's most hardcore WRX yet

Only 200 examples will be sold in the US.

Steven Pham/Roadshow

The stock Subaru WRX STI is already a pretty potent machine. And while the current Type RA ups the performance a little bit more, we're stoked to see the arrival of the STI S209 at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show this week. It's Subaru's first STI "S-Line" car to be sold in the US, and only 200 examples will be sold.

Continuing the tradition of the S-Line models available in Japan since 2000, the S209 gets upgrades to both its engine and chassis. It uses the 2.5-liter H4 engine we know from the stock STI, though its turbocharger has increased boost, a bigger turbine and compressor. The result is 341 horsepower, and Subaru says 10 percent more torque will be available at 3,600 rpm, right in the heart of the power band.

The engine also gets a high-flow fuel pump and larger fuel injectors. In a nod to the 2004-07 WRX STI, the S209 even gets an intercooler water spray system, operated via steering wheel paddles. (The old STI, for reference, had a button to the left of its steering wheel.)

Gold wheels? Check. Wing? Check.

Steven Pham/Roadshow

The S209 takes a number of cues from Subaru's STI Nürburgring Challenge race car, including a 1.7-inch wider body, 0.6-inch wider track, big fender flares and a flexible front-strut tower bar. Front bumper canards help generate extra downforce, and vents on the rear fenders help reduce drag. A carbon fiber roof and rear wing help reduce weight.

For maximum stickiness, the S209 rides on specially designed 265/35-series Dunlop GT600A summer tires, wrapped around 19-inch wheels.

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The S209 gets the same all-wheel-drive system as the regular STI, with a six-way, manual, locking center differential, and limited-slip diffs at the front and rear. Three drive modes -- Intelligent, Sharp and Sport Sharp -- allow you to dial in the level of hooliganism. A close-ratio six-speed manual is the only transmission available, and massive Brembo brakes should provide great stopping power.

Inside, the changes are minimal, with a suede-wrapped steering wheel and Recaro front bucket seats.

Only two color combinations will be available: WR Blue with gray wheels, or Crystal White with gold wheels. We don't have any word on pricing yet, but seeing as how the STI Type RA costs nearly $50,000, we don't think the S209 will be too cheap. Look for it to hit dealerships later this year.

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