Category Archives: Subaru WRX STi

First Drive: 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 – Motor Trend – Mid Hudson Subaru

2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Side In Motion

By Peter Lyon
 | Photos Yoshitada Moro


2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Front Three Quarter

Click to view Gallery

We almost don’t want to tell you about the new Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206. Why? Because it’s the fastest, best-handling WRX Subaru’s STI division has ever produced, but you can’t buy it in the U.S. It’s yet another special STI limited edition built exclusively for Japanese domestic consumption. 

Subaru’s tuning department takes its STI “S” series very seriously, something we witnessed at the recent Tokyo Motor Show when it revealed the new S206 with its eye-popping spec sheet. There’s more than a decade of history in the top-shelf S series, starting from the radical-looking S201 to the gutsy S204, and the extreme R205. We’ve driven them all and been suitably impressed with every car. But the S206 takes “S” to a whole new level.

You know you’re in for something special when the person greeting you prior to the drive at the Cycle Sports Center two hours south of Tokyo is none other than STI’s motorsport director, former chief test driver, and all-around Nurburgring-meister Hideharu Tatsumi. After a quick rundown of the impressive spec list, he shuffles us over to an S206 sitting in the pit area.

2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Front End
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Rear Three Quarter
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Rear Three Quarters In Motion

Smiling confidently, he opens the door to one of only 100 NBR Challenge Package models of the S206, a super rare edition celebrating STI’s monumental class win in this year’s Nurburgring 24-hour race. With its unique 19-inch BBS rims and hard-core carbon-fiber roof and rear wing, the NBR certainly looks the part.

Powering the S206 is a version of Subie’s turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer from the WRX STI. Horsepower has been bumped from 305 hp to 316 hp while torque increases from 290 lb-ft to 318 lb-ft. The engine is hand-built, with pistons, connecting rods, and crankshaft all meticulously balanced before assembly. The secret to the S206’s improved performance comes from the newly fitted low friction, twin-scroll ball-bearing turbo, a remapped ECU, and a low back pressure exhaust system that boosts low- to mid-range torque.


2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Rear Three Quarters

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Built off of the outgoing WRX STI platform, the S206’s suspension gets specially fitted inverted Bilstein dampers, STI coil springs, and a flexible front strut tower brace, while those 19-inch rims are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sports rubber (245/35ZR19), highlighting huge six-piston Brembo calipers with drilled rotors. 

As we launch ourselves out of the blocks, the S206 feels at once poised and ready for any right boot extension. And any corner. Switching the VDC to S# for maximum throttle response, and with the updated DCCD (driver controlled center differential) left in normal mode, we gun the boxer engine in first and second to record a stopwatch-timed 0-60 mph sprint of around 4.5 seconds.

Compared to the current WRX STI, the S206 displays beefier torque between 3200 and 4400 rpm — where you need most for quicker cornering exits. But as Tatsumi says, “this torque curve also makes it easier to putter round town as well.” Right, but that’s not what we’re here for.

2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Cockpit 2
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Cockpit
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Interior

Zeroing in on a tight right-hander in fourth at 100 mph, we obliterate 50 mph in 1 second flat by jumping on the 6-pot Brembos, pop the notchy six-speed gearbox down to second and turn in. Whoa..

It almost defies logic. How can you make an Impreza WRX corner with so little roll, maintain so much lateral grip, and yet retain such comfortable ride quality? It can’t just come from the specially fitted Bilstein inverted dampers, coil springs and tower bar.

Back in the pits, Tatsumi lets on that his team has brought across some “little secrets” from the STI race car, which they are preparing for a second Nurburgring 24-hour challenge in 2012.


2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Side In Motion

Click to view Gallery

“It’s not just the flexible tower brace and Bilsteins that create this ride,” Tatsumi said. “I have brought over a flexible draw stiffener, several other nifty support braces, and special lateral links with pillow ball bushes in addition to a couple of race car inspired chassis revisions. Oh yeah, and one addition that even surprised us was the carbon-fiber roof, which not only improves upper body rigidity while reducing weight, but helps to improve the overall ride quality.” 

A carbon roof that improves ride quality? OK. We can’t argue with that because the ride quality is exceptional — firm but compliant – for a hard-core sports model like this with low profile 19-inch tires.

The combination of suspension upgrades and high-grip Michelin tires also meant Tatsumi’s team was able to dial back the steering gear ratio from 13:1 to 15:1, which makes the S206 turn in at speed as predictably as the actual race car, with logarithmic loads of grip and more steering feel and feedback than any STI before it.

2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Center Console
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Gear Shifter
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Instrument Gauges

This car simply begs you to push it harder each lap. Your insides just about reach their lateral limits before the tires reach theirs. There’s almost no understeer and the rears won’t let go either. The engine, chassis, steering, and brakes are so communicative and responsive, they almost feel like an extension of your body. The car goes exactly where you want it to, when you want it to.

Tatsumi tells us that he wanted his team to build a car that wasn’t just the best STI so far, but create a car that communicates so well with drivers that it makes them better drivers, or at least feel as though they are better drivers. Can’t argue with that theory either. As I honed in on a tight corner at over 110 mph, crunched on the Brembos, changed down and got back on the gas as my brain tried to dislodge itself from my skull and fly toward the scrub, I have never felt more like seven-time World Rally champ Sebastian Loeb.

Not quite satisfied with the explanation as to why the car corners so well, I found myself asking Tatsumi “just how much of that race car is in the S206?” He just nodded and said cryptically, “It’s still ongoing. We want to win our class again in 2012 in the 24-hour race and slice several more seconds off our lap time. So there’s a little more still to do under there.”

2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Rear Wing
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Badge
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206 Engine

Inside, the lucky 300 S206 buyers get Recaro sport seats wrapped in leather and Alcantara, and plenty of S206 badging to remind them not to worry when an ordinary STI pulls alongside them at a traffic light.

So it begs the question: Why doesn’t STI offer an export model, even a very limited edition run, for the U.S. market? According to Tatsumi, there are two reasons. First, even with two catalyzers fitted to reduce CO2 and NOx gases, the S206’s emissions won’t meet current international standards. But more to the point, the ballistically strong Japanese Yen means that this car, which costs roughly the equivalent of $77,000 in Japan, would cost somewhere around $85,000 if (and when) they ever made a left-hand drive version. And that kind of pricing would put it in Nissan GT-R territory, making it hard to justify.

But then again, even if you did have the cash and wherewithal, and even if you were happy with a right-hand-drive version, you still can’t have one because the full lot of 300 (200 stock and 100 NBR editions) has already sold out. As Tatsumi points out, “if you want to drive this car, you’ll have to come to Japan.” Makes sense. If you want to eat the best, most authentic sushi, you have to come to Japan anyway, right?


2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI S206
BASE PRICE $76,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door, sedan
ENGINE ENGINES 2.0L/316-hp /318-lb-ft, turbocharged, DOHC, flat-4
WHEELBASE 103.3 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 180.3 x 70.7 x 57.9 in
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 24.5 mpg (Japan est)
ON SALE IN U.S. Japan domestic market only (unfortunately)

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Subaru Confirms New 300 HP 2.0-liter Turbo Engine for Next STI – Mid Hudson Subaru

Subaru Confirms New 300 HP 2.0-liter Turbo Engine for Next STI

Subaru may want to show its rear-wheel-drive capabilities with the newBRZ, but, fortunately, this doesn’t mean that, from now on you’ll have to turn to tuners for performance AWD Scoobys.

To confirm this, Subaru let it slip during the LA Auto Show that the next generation WRX and STI will not only be offered as stand-alone models, but will also send the power to all four wheels using a turbocharged version of the company’s new 2.0-liter FB flat four, as Car and Driver writes.

The company said that both vehicle should loose weight thanks to the new platform and that the new powerplant will deliver 300 hp under the bonnet of the STI.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI: Autoweek – Mid Hudson Subaru

2011 Subaru WRX STI Limited Sedan Photo by: David Arnouts

2011 Subaru WRX STI Limited Sedan Photo by: David Arnouts

Six months into our year with a long-term 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited sedan, we’ve discovered that the car still draws attention.

During the second quarter, we were challenged to a street race by a teenager in a modified Nissan 350Z (we declined), were pulled over by a police officer who claimed we were speeding (we weren’t, and didn’t get a ticket) and were cornered in a parking lot by a previous-generation WRX owner who talked our ears off for 15 minutes. Not to mention the countless waves from other Subaru drivers on the road.

We haven’t decided whether we like all of the attention (particularly from the boys in blue), but we do like the STI’s performance chops.

“The car positively loves to be driven hard and responds with a level of agility and reaction that makes it a firecracker waiting to explode down the road,” one editor said. And that was when our STI was still wearing a set of Michelin winter tires. After we reinstalled the Dunlop SP Sport 600 summer rubber, praise for its handling prowess magnified.

“I love the car’s ability to carve up the tarmac as if someone dotted the tires with superglue,” noted one staffer, who also pointed out that the tread switch also knocked out a bunch of highway tire noise.

While some editors initially were disappointed in Subaru for not finding a little extra power in the 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four-cylinder to go along with the suspension upgrades for 2011, nobody has complained about 305 hp being inadequate. In fact, everyone found power to be potent, especially when SI-Drive is switched to “sport sharp” for maximum power and throttle response.

The six-speed manual transmission was another high point of the STI, with one editor proclaiming it “the best-shifting manual gearbox Subaru has done thus far.”

The second quarter also saw the STI gain its long-distance stripes on a few occasions, including carrying our senior editor for motorsports to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

While the STI is louder inside than most cars, it’s not unbearable, and having the satellite radio cranked for entertainment helps. The leather sport bucket seats are not only supportive for lateral maneuvers but proved comfortable for extended stints behind the wheel. The navigation system is also fairly intuitive to use and got us to all of our destinations without any hitches.

The stiffened suspension isn’t overly jarring, either. “I think Subaru has hit a decent middle ground in providing both manageable ride comfort and respectable stiffness through corners,” one cross-state traveler commented.

Mechanically, the STI has been a rock, with the only trip to our local service department being for a scheduled service which included an oil change and general inspection. However, we did lose three days to a body-shop visit to replace our front bumper, which suffered a cracked lip while driving through heavy snow accumulation and ice courtesy of a late-winter storm.

Not surprisingly, the larger rear spoiler and near-$40,000 as-tested price of our STI still raise some eyebrows, but complaints have tapered off drastically compared with during the first quarter. Maybe it’s because we finally “get it” and have been indoctrinated into the cult of Subaru enthusiasts. Now, when we receive waves from drivers of other Imprezas on the road, we find ourselves waving back.



2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited Sedan




FUEL COST (QUARTER/TO DATE): $1,354.01/$2,734.69


MAINTENANCE: Replace front bumper ($795.04); reinstall summer tires ($83.53); 11,250-mile service including oil change, check and fill fluids, check tires and set pressures ($54.90)




Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Dave Mirra star in the pilot of Battle Cross, a new highly-anticipated television show scheduled on SPEED TV on November 17 at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific.

The concept for the high-energy, action-packed Battle Cross series revolves around pitting two professional drivers on a unique and challenging course where they battle each other for both fastest time and most stylish run.  The pilot episode pits 2011 Rally America Champion David Higgins against his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate, X Games star Dave Mirra, in spectacular contests of speed and style. Higgins and Mirra each pilot their Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2011 Subaru WRX STI competition rally cars in the episode, the same cars they pilot in the Rally America National Championship.

The pilot episode features a challenging gravel and tarmac course that runs literally through a working steel mill facility.  The contest features two rounds of competition between the two rally stars.  Round One is a lap of the Battle Cross course scored by time, with each driver given two attempts to clock their fastest time around the difficult course.  Round Two is a two-minute freestyle session scored for difficulty, creativity, precision and style by two expert judges: drifting champion Samuel Hubinette, and rally driver Stephan Verdier.