Subaru is offering the limited WRX STI Type RA in the United States in 2018, with production of just 500 units. This limited-edition pocket rocket is aimed squarely at the hardest of hardcore Subaru fans.

The Type RA nomenclature originates from the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The “RA” stands for “Record Attempt,” an in-house Subaru designation for specially built vehicles like the tweaked WRX STI race car that set a 4-door sedan lap record at the German circuit in July 2017.

Chassis, engine tweaks

The roadgoing 2018 STI Type RA arrives with styling tweaks, suspension and engine upgrades, and weight reduction modifications. It sheds almost 70 pounds from the standard STI, mostly by replacing the spare tire with a tire repair kit. Deletion of the rear armrest, special 19” BBS wheels, and a carbon fiber roof and rear wing also contribute. A new front splitter and rear bumper vents improve aerodynamics and grip along with that wing.

A reworked cold-air intake, exhaust system, strengthened pistons, and a retuned ECU coax five extra horses from the STI Type RA’s 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine (310 horsepower versus the standard 305). Add a 4.5-percent lower third gear ratio and short-throw shifter, and the Type RA ran the Grand West circuit at Virginia International Raceway 4.0 seconds faster than the standard 2018 WRX STI.

Class of 2018: All the new cars

The experience behind the wheel is similar to that of the regular STI, only MORE. The major knock is in the steering: as in the standard STI, the Type RA doesn’t really feel locked in. It’s easy to “see-saw” mid-corner with the lack of weight in the steering wheel action. Through harder cornering, the feeling of the steering loading up is artificial, rather than natural. The power application of the STI Type RA is where it shines. The old 2.5-liter boxer engine has some expected lag, which can at times be jagged if you play with the accelerator. Stand on it, though, and the boost of the Type RA reveals its true character. This is no precision tool; it’s a blunt point-and-shoot track weapon.

The $50,000 price tag of the WRX STI Type RA buys you more than a bunch of letters, but it’s quite a bit to pay for an STI. Those who live close to a track or near some choice canyons should find some good return on investment; the rest of us might have to be content to dream.

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