- 341 horsepower track-focused STI
- Just 209 made
- Sold only in the US
- Two colors only; Crystal White Pearl and WR Blue Pearl
- Serious suspension, 19-inch wheels, sticky tires
- Priced from $64,880
With flared and ducted fenders, front canards, a carbon fiber roof, and a tall rear wing made of the same, the 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 looks more purpose-built Time Attack machine than something you’d take to pick up the groceries. And the statement stands to reason: while you can still get groceries in the S209, you might just win that Time Attack.
Plenty of power
Using a slightly bigger HKS-built turbocharger, high flow intake system, a larger fuel pump, and revised programming, STI was able to coax an extra 31 horsepower from Subaru’s long-in-the-tooth but trusty EJ25 boxer engine, for a total of 341 at 6400 rpm. More importantly, the S209 manages another 40 lb-ft of torque than the WRX STI, and it does so at a slightly more accessible 3,600 rpm (vs 4,000).
Driving the S209 presents a unique juxtaposition to the senses – there’s the synthetic electric steering feel of a modern car, but the slightly delayed boost response of an old school Japanese tuner sled from the days before direct injection. Once you’re tapped into the boost, it builds and builds, to a max of 18.9 psi (vs the standard car’s 16.2 psi). The S209 shows no desire to run out of breath, even at redline, where it feels like the car wants another thousand rpm and you’ll have a tough time suppressing a cackle. It’s worth mentioning that the throttle programming can be frustrating around town in any of the three selectable modes, causing the odd unexpected stall when parking or low-speed maneuvering. It’s also sometimes tricky to pull off satisfying upshifts for the same reason.
…And a chassis to match
The chassis has been stiffened enough that steering inputs through the quick-ratio rack are translated immediately to action, but like the STI upon which it’s based, there’s little feedback confidence through the wheel. Brembo brakes, here loaded with special-recipe high friction pads, are excellent and the level of grip offered by the stiffly sprung S209 is genuinely hard to believe in practice. Subaru claims more than 1.0g on the skidpad, thanks partly to giant, sticky 265/35R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A rubber. Both front and rear track have been increased by .6-inches (that’s what the bulging fenders are for), and the S209 rides on stiffer springs and dampers from Bilstein, as well as benefitting from a complement of novel stiffening tweaks throughout the chassis.
For a premium price
Whether it’s worth the price is a subjective question best left to individual taste. We’ll say this, though – at $64,880, it’s fully $26,985 more than a WRX STI. You could have one of those and a top-shelf 2020 Subaru Impreza Limited and 290 bags of chips. That said, if lap times are a heck of a lot more important than those groceries you should act soon – Subaru is only making 209 S209’s.