By on January 15, 2019

Subaru STI S209 front quarter

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.

Subaru STI S209 profile

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.Subaru STI S209 engineSharp-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.

Subaru STI S209 front

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.

Subaru STI S209 BBS WheelsThe 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.

Subaru STI S209 rear wing[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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10 Comments on “NAIAS 2019: Subaru Deems Americans Worthy of Limited-edition S209...”

  • avatar

    Subaru dealers got a belated christmas present. They’re practically salivating over the chance to squeeze out an extra $15k in “Market Adjustment” from youths with questionable understanding of their finances.

  • avatar

    I like Subarus more than the average joe but, no thanks. If i want a performance car, I ll get the full beef one in the shape of a Mustang GT. For less money too, I ll bet.

    V 8 are a doomed species. I have the rest of my life to drive turbo 4 bangers.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Why on earth do they not give the WRB ones the gold wheels? That makes no sense.

    • 0 avatar

      The gold wheels have always been the STI’s unique calling card, elevating it above common WRXes. Putting gold wheels on a WRX would be akin to putting a hellcat badge on a V6 Challenger

      • 0 avatar


        If you actually pay attention to the article, prior to commenting, you’ll understand that Land Ark wasn’t referring to a WRX, but to the other color offered – World Rally Blue Pearl.

  • avatar

    Subaru STI, follows the road of Mustang special editions…what’s next?

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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