Subaru tends not to mess with the WRX and WRX STI often, but for 2018 the all-wheel-drive rocket gets some performance upgrades enthusiasts can get behind.
The base WRX gets revised suspension tuning in an effort to improve both comfort and performance capability –- better handling is always welcome. For those buyers who prefer a manual transmission, Subaru says it has “significantly enhanced” the currently notchy shifter feel of its six-speed transmission with a new synchro design producing less friction. We think that’s even more reason to forget the CVT even exists in a performance car like the WRX. If you weren’t a fan of the electric steering before, Subaru has tinkered with it a bit for 2018, so you might want to give it another try. An optional performance package is offered for the WRX Premium. With it you’ll get Recaro eight-way power seats, red-painted brake calipers with upgraded Jurid brake pads and a moonroof delete in the name of weight reduction.
Moving onto the more radical STI, Subaru went another step beyond the revised suspension tuning in the WRX\ and updated the AWD system, as well. Previously, the limited slip differential used a combination of mechanical and electronic controls, but it will be 100 percent electronic for 2018. Subaru justifies this by saying the electronic control offers both quicker and smoother responses. The new STI also features an upgraded Brembo braking system that looks like it’s track-ready from the factory. Monoblock six-piston calipers up front, and two-piston rears will clamp down onto larger, drilled rotors all the way around. You’ll be able to tell them apart from last year’s calipers because Subaru went and painted these upgraded units yellow.
When I review a new car, most of the time I get it dropped off at an airport near a venue at which I will be helping to organize a 24 Hours of LeMons race, and then I spend a few days driving it …
Wheels keep increasing in size as the years roll on, and the STI is no exception, offering 19-inch rims for the first time. You’ll notice the lack of engine talk here, because Subaru hasn’t done a single thing to either the WRX’s 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder or the STI’s 2.5-liter power plant.
Appearance-wise, the front end of the car gets revised with a larger grille opening and steering-responsive headlights, so the curve ahead will be lit up for late-night hooning adventures. Technology is also upgraded for the new WRX and STI in the form of larger screens on the interior and a vehicle hold system to keep the car still on all grades.
We’ll have to be patient for the WRX and STI to get the kind of overhaul the Impreza just received, but these newest changes are certainly a welcome placeholder. Look out for the more exciting turbo boxer siblings in spring of this year.