By on May 25, 2018

Subaru announced pricing for the 2019 WRX and its big-winged STI variant this week, making special mention that the spicier option will receive a boost in horsepower and performance. It’s something enthusiasts have been clamoring for, but those seeking massive gains will probably be a bit disappointed. The aftermarket is likely to play a part in the lives of many a WRX STI, despite the factory upgrade.

Meanwhile, the more-humble WRX will go mostly unchanged for the 2019 model year. Subaru has said it will persist with the 268-horsepower 2.0-liter boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring. However, it does get a new 6.5-inch high-resolution touchscreen with smartphone integration and a rear-view camera.

Those optioning for the “Sport Lineartronic” CVT also get the benefit of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist suite. But we can’t recommend it over the six-speed manual without feeling a little dirty.  

The STI also keeps its current engine, a turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer, but Subaru tacked on 5 additional ponies for the 2019 model year. It now boats 310 hp, thanks to a new air intake, high-flow exhaust system, and a retuned ECU. Subaru assures us that stronger pistons have been installed to help the engine cope with this massive influx of power. What’s potentially more exciting, however, is the STI’s upgraded manual, which has its 3rd gear ratio revised to improve acceleration.

Subaru didn’t say what kind of difference it would make. We’ve noticed that 3rd gear in the STI always seems to come in right before 60 mph, and often wondered if the company would change things up to alleviate that non-problem and improve upon the (somewhat irrelevant) metric popularly used to measure the acceleration of road cars. However, we sincerely doubt this particular gearing modification will do much for that since 2nd remains untouched. It could help it get to 100 mph a bit more swiftly, though.

In addition to wilder body work and more power, the STI offers a few other things the standard WRX doesn’t. Additional features include a multi-mode driver-controlled center differential and unique instrument cluster.

Both cars will receive a limited number of special-edition “Series.Gray” vehicles, painted in Subaru’s Cool Gray Khaki color. It’s a very interesting hue. We’ve seen it on the Crosstrek and it can hit the eyes as totally flat grey or an almost baby blue, depending on lighting. Limited to 750 WRX models and only 250 STIs, the grey cars will only be sold as six-speed manuals and possess a number of unique features: black alloy wheels, crystal silica badging, upgraded brake pads, steering-responsive headlights. The STI version of the grey also receives Bilstein-tuned sport suspension and dampers.

Expect to pay more for these than the standard models, which also see a modest increase in price for the 2019 model year. Pricing starts at $28,080 for the WRX and $37,480 for the WRX STI, both of which include the $885 destination fee. Checking the Series.Gray box tacks on an additional $3,100. Deliveries should begin this summer.

[Image: Subaru]

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33 Comments on “Subaru WRX STI Gains More Horsepower for 2019...”

  • avatar

    $38,000 for a four cylinder compact? Jeez people I’m guessing the cities where these sell only have Subaru dealerships with no competition? Malaise era revisited.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t decide if this post is sarcasm, or if you have no idea what kind of performance this car’s capable of.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a 310HP compact again with a four cylinder, so not very much.

        • 0 avatar

          Okey doke.

        • 0 avatar

          OK, name some >4 cylinder cars that cost $38K and deliver the same kind of performance.

          • 0 avatar

            The Mustang Ecoboost has the same amount of power for significantly less money and much better fuel economy. The STI was impressive with 300 hp when it was introduced for the 2004 model year, but 15 years later it’s still using the same engine… Meanwhile the Mustang GT is cheaper and now has 460 hp.

          • 0 avatar

            You forgot to add and awd

            basically only the focus rs but it nearly a half a foot smaller

          • 0 avatar

            Test drove an EB Mustang last weekend. Very impressed with the power. Felt like an older GT with the 4.6 L. Yet the fun factor was completely missing from the Mustang. Felt more like I was commandeering a ski boat. WRX is the exact opposite, fun factor is a huge part of the experience. Grip and usable power would make me pick a 268hp WRX everyday over a EB Mustang.

          • 0 avatar


            Welcome to Jeopardy. I’ll take that question for $1000.

            Answer: What is a Civic Type-R?

            I know, it’s fugly. I guess the Sube is beautiful? How many more years are they going sell them before they change the body style?

            I kid, but I do wonder why the Type-R is so universally hated for its styling. I will now retreat to my bunker and await incoming.

          • 0 avatar

            The point with the STi is that it used to punch well above its weight, as did the EVO. Now, not so much, and its capabilities simply don’t shine through on a typical public road test drive.

            Subie has allowed the model to languish since the EVO went bye-bye, and a 5 hp bump (and lack of a hatchback) just reinforces that they’re happy with kicking that can down the road.

      • 0 avatar

        Username is Hummer. Technology has not trickled down to all. And GM has a 4 cyl with 310 hp and 348 lb-ft torque which is greater than past V8 power plants. This will not matter, it’s not a V6 or V8.

        • 0 avatar

          Do not attempt to bench race a 4 Banger Turbo vs a normal V8 of equal, or even of lesser hp and torque. I know it doesn’t compute well on your tablet, but take my word for it, you’ll get burned in real life.

          The WRX STI is a holy blast, especially on the wet, on gravel and even sand dunes.

          Mustangs are just different animals and should have a V8 (except SVO), and I’ll take a 4.6 V8 Mustang over any AWD 4 banger turbo (same era), if I could only own one car. The 3.73 final-drive wasn’t available on 4.6 Mustangs, but 4.10s would change your mind about V8s and possibly shatter your devotion to VWs.

    • 0 avatar

      I prefer large engines as much as the next person that owns a Charger RT and Roadmaster LT1, but the STI offers some decent kit in the braking, suspension, and differential departments for under $40k and the 2.5T gives a more entertaining rally car bark compared to the vacuum wheezing of newer turbo engines.

      It’s also a refreshingly analog car compared to the super-tech androids offered by the Euro makes.

      And it has been in production a long time, so theoretically it will break less often.

    • 0 avatar

      Did the maliase era feel like ….inflation hitting everything but your salary?

  • avatar

    Holy crap! A whole 5 horsepower!!!! Forward all my calls, this calls for celebration!!!!!

    If Subaru doesn’t put the FA24 in the next WRX/STI I don’t even know what I’ll say.

  • avatar

    More horsepower


    That’s not even a tune, that’s something so small you can simply come out and say it where nobody can prove you wrong.

  • avatar

    U can haz moar powah.

  • avatar
    John R

    Welp. Looks like the standard WRX continues to be the one to get.

  • avatar

    Mitsu became so bored with the Evo’s domination of the boat anchor STI that they decided to focus on SUVs. The ancient Mitsu AWC system is probably still superior whatever the Subie’s got. The Subie is almost up to the Evo’s power numbers now though, I give ‘em credit for that.

  • avatar

    > new 6.5-inch high-resolution screen

    Wonder if this is the 6.5/8.5 inch Harmon Kardon infotainment units from the Impreza/Cross Trek. Feels weird that the more expensive car variant has been on the older system for so long.

    • 0 avatar

      It is the same.

      To answer you question, it has to do with when what is being redesigned. They put a LOT of focus on the Impreza and Crosstrek, and they debuted those radios just because that demographic (compared to Forester/Outback) is typically more focused.

      Then when they did the refresh of the Outback and Legacy for 2018, they got it.

      And then the WRX and STI are due now for their mid-generation refresh, so now they get it.

      Subaru doesn’t swap radios often, it’s a big deal for them, lol. They save it for the mid-generation refreshes.

      Forester had their mid-generation refresh in 2017 and likely too early for Subaru to comfortably put it in the Forester while they were rolling it out in the Impreza redesign. So the Forester doesn’t get that radio until the complete redesign for 2019.

      It’s a tiny company that is run very methodically, you kinda get used to it. (I sold them for 10 years up until recently when I made the possibly horrible decision of following my manager / friend to a Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram dealer a few weeks ago.

      Also, responding to others who say the STI is dated- nobody who buys them cares. They appreciate that the engine is proven.

      Cool Grey Khaki will all sell out very quickly and at full MSRP or close to it.

  • avatar

    “3rd gear in the STI always seems to come in right before 60 mph, and often wondered if the company would change things up to alleviate that”

    Changing 2nd gear might help with that, 3rd would not.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    As I wrote here a while ago, a friend bought a new STi several years ago as a year-round commuter car. He traded it in after only a few months. Granted, he came from a Dodge Cummins to the WRX but he was livid daily about having to be in the boost to get anything done. Otherwise, he said, “You’re in a heavy AWD car with a four-cylinder engine!” He said that he had to hoon the thing to get it to act like ‘A Car’ – and was starting Morning Rush Hour Races when he didn’t mean to. i.e. Careful what you wish for.

  • avatar

    Can’t comment on a diesel pickup. Don’ ever want or need one. The STI weighs 3450 lbs. Not as heavy as your average plodding CUV. But yes, you actually need to be awake to drive it, and it’s not what I’d call a commuter car.

    If the thing wasn’t so blasted noisy, I’d have had a 2016. More fun than a barrel of monkeys and still with hydraulic power steering. You can trundle around town in fourth, plop a U-ie into second, stand on it and DEPART. Feels delicious, like a grown-up Abarth with actual guts. Quite unlike all the zombiefied modern sedans I’ve driven, some 19 different ones in the last five years. If you buy by the hp and haven’t a clue what really wringing a car out is like nor care, buy an EB Mustang. Or Accord 2.0t or something.

    The transmission is a completely different unit from the cheapo WRX one which is derived from the 1973 Leone. Much nicer to shift and no rev hang from the old EJ engine, unlike WRX and Hondas. Just add mucho gazolin because yes, it has a drinking problem. And extra alloys for winter tires because nobody but nobody has steelies. The costs mount.

    Unfortunately, Subaru has removed one of the two center-diff lockers for 2019 along with awarding a nominal 5 hp increase. The mechanical ball and ramp one is gone, so no loud sproings as you power up a rough gravel hill amymore, where front or rear spinning axles in the air are abruptly arrested. Just the electromagnetic clutch one remains. They cheaped out, the misers! Still has front and rear torsenish diffs.

    As I say, with no wing and a nicer interior than the WRX, all I wanted was a proper quiet muffler for stealth. But the usual crew that buys STIs would have a collective fit if that happened. For highway drives, it was not acceptable to me.

    Have I driven a new GTI? Yes, twice, one manual, one DSG. OK sums up my impression, but the tiny front doors means the B-pillar is what you see when you look left. No such problem in the STI. At all. Cannot warm to the wedged-in driving position the GTI proffers me. YMMV. If so great. I really don’t care nor need advice on the particular matter myself. Thought about it a lot, really a lot. It does not suit me, and the shifter is merely OK, so it’d be a DSG.

    Geez, maybe I should get an STI anyway before analog cars disappear. Ponder. Hmm. Need some comfy earplugs. Besides the WRX, the rest of Subaru’s lineup are bumbling dog carriers that suck the life out of you, or the chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone BRZ with 200 gerbilpower.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I have driven the current gen WRX STI and found it essentially as you describe: punishingly loud, have to work for the boost, feels kind of large for a sporty car, BUT full of character. I test drove a GTI and felt little but comfort.

      Would probably take a WRX STI any day and then regret every moment of discomfort I suffered when I wasn’t driving it hard (which in a daily driver type sedan would be more often than not). Though I understand why people would be turned off by the punishing ride and noise, it makes up for it in other characterful ways.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on your definition of analog. The STI in the US has always had an electric throttle.

  • avatar

    Why can’t Ford create interesting vehicles like this.

    • 0 avatar

      Focus RS
      Focus ST
      Fiesta ST
      (In order of “intersesting-ness”.)

      The FoRS was flawed in block casting (2.3 block is weak but “easily swappable” to the 2.0 Focus ST block) but was otherwise a gangbusters fast compact car.

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