NAIAS 2019: Subaru Deems Americans Worthy of Limited-edition S209

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
naias 2019 subaru deems americans worthy of limited edition s209

Subaru has a history of keeping the good stuff in Japan. Eastward-looking rally enthusiasts clamored in the early ’90s for the turbocharged Impreza WRX. Subaru sent us the naturally-aspirated Impreza 2.5RS in 1998. Once the WRX hit our shores in 2000, we saw the more-powerful WRX STi as the forbidden fruit, not to grace our shores until 2004. Countless limited editions, starting with the widebody 22B (a killer on Gran Turismo) and proceeding through several iterations of the S-series, have too been withheld.

No longer.

Subaru finally heeded the call of World Rally Blue-blooded boxer geeks in North America when it revealed the limited-edition STI S209 on Monday. Tweaks, both subtle and not, refine the familiar formula into a more focused performance vehicle.

Yes, it has more power! 341 hp, versus 310 on the standard WRX STI. It’s still a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (EJ25 for the code geeks), with a larger turbocharger allowing for increased boost — 18.0 psi. A water-spray system, activated by paddles behind the steering wheel, help cool the intercooler to keep the boost up on hot days. The engine has a S209 serial number plate atop the intake plenum, seen here as 000/000 for what is likely a pre-production model destined for thrashing at the hands of a few lucky journalists.

Sharp-eyed readers will realize that those steering-wheel paddles are often used on automatic transmissions. That’s right, and this means the S209 is manual-only. The six-speed close-ratio manual is paired with front and rear limited-slip differentials, and Subaru’s Driver Controlled Center Differential.

The body of the S209 is 1.7 inches wider than the standard WRX STI; flared fenders are fitted to cover 19×9 BBS alloy wheels wrapped with exclusively-developed 265/35-19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A summer-only tires.

The suspension has been tweaked via Bilstein dampers, firmer-rate springs, and a larger rear sway bar. Crossmember and subframe reinforcements further add rigidity to the structure, though a flexible front strut bar adds lateral stiffness for transitions while allowing movement fore-to-aft — which makes the suspension less harsh during daily driving. Additional spoilers front and rear, paired with a carbon-fiber rear wing, help reduce lift at speed. A carbon-fiber roof panel drops a few pounds up high.

Those 19-inch BBS wheels? They’ll be Subaru’s traditional gold when fitted to a S209 painted in this Crystal White Pearl. The other available color, World Rally Blue Pearl, is fitted with gray BBS wheels.

Only “around” 200 Subaru STI S209s will be produced, all exclusively for the United States. Pricing wasn’t available at press time — it’s expected closer to the model’s release date in late 2019.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • Jh26036 Jh26036 on Jan 15, 2019

    Subaru STI, follows the road of Mustang special editions...what's next?

    • See 1 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jan 15, 2019

      @scott25 I'm ok with that, probably the first good thing to happen as a result of gen I-live-in-mom's-basement.

  • Scott25 Scott25 on Jan 15, 2019

    Rumoured to surpass the $60k barrier. It’ll define “showroom queen” at that price Still admire the WRX/STI though. It and the Lexus RC are about the only classically and quintessentially Japanese performance cars left today.

    • Jatz Jatz on Jan 15, 2019

      I've got a couple high-income Millennials in the family who'd drop 60K+ on the right set of MtG cards. The money is out there if the Millennial psyche is triggered.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.