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Sarah Tew/CNET

Subaru STI loses its hatch, WRX gains width

At the 2010 New York auto show, Subaru launches the WRX STI sedan and a wider body for the standard WRX.

2011 Subari WRX STI sedan
Subaru's 2011 STI now comes in sedan form, along with the hatchback version. Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK--Subaru used the New York auto show to show off the significant performance improvements it made to its WRX and WRX STI, but what will stand out for most observers are the body changes. The STI gets fitted into a nice little compact sedan package, while the WRX gets the STI's wide body design.

The new four-door STI, and addition in the model line-up to the current hatchback STI, means more than just the loss of some cargo area. Subaru fits it with a large wing, giving it zero lift, according to the company.

Sedan and hatchback STIs get improved suspension tuning for the 2011 model year. Their thicker stabilizer bars and new bushings lead to less body roll, improving cornering ability.

As for the WRX, beyond the STI-like looks garnered from the wide body, the car also gains better handling because of its wider track, an increase of 1.5 inches. Wider fenders also mean the tires gain an inch in width, giving the car better grip. A stiffened rear subframe should also keep both rear tires in firm contact with the ground.

While it may become harder to tell the difference between a WRX and STI, WRX buyers will get a better performing vehicle with a more aggressive look. And STI buyers get a choice that less resembles a family wagon.