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New York show: Subaru gives STI the boot

STIing in its tail: Subaru's big wing returns - on the born-again STI sedan.

STI returns to its four-door roots as Subaru reveals sharp new sedan in New York

2 Apr 2010

WE SAW Subaru’s pumped-up, STI-look 2011 Impreza WRX last week and the Japanese brand issued a single shot a covered-up, big-winged Impreza a couple of days ago, under the headline: ‘The wing is back!’.

And so it comes as no surprise the Subaru has used the New York motor show to unveil not just its wide-body Impreza sedan and hatch, but also five-door and, for the first time in its current generation, four-door sedan versions of its latest STI flagship.

All four performance models will go on sale in Australia late this year but, in a move that clearly attempts to further differentiate the turbocharged versions of Subaru’s global small-car, there will be no changes to garden-variety naturally aspirated variants of the Impreza.

Sweetening the deal for STI customers, who currently pay at least $61,990 for entry to the STI (hatch) club in Australia – some $22,000 more than the current WRX sedan and hatch ($39,990) – the 2011 STI will gain beefier suspension tuning and lighter 18-inch wheels.

2 center imageWhile that should give the upgraded STI hatch - and the first four-door STI to be sold in Australia since the MY07 model was discontinued in August 2007 - even sharper handling, there is no increase in engine performance for the top-shelf Impreza.

That means the revised STI (and its more expensive Spec R sibling) will continue with a 221kW/407Nm version of the WRX’s 195kW/343Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged flat four, while lesser Imprezas will stick with their 110kW/196Nm 2.0-litre boxer.

“We can confirm a four-door Impreza WRX STI will join our Australian line-up much later in the year and will be available from our exclusive STI retail network,” said Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior today.

While the 2011 WRXs look a lot like their pricier stablemates without the large rear wing, the freshened STIs do, in fact, come with sharpened bumper corners and wider, blacked-out foglight recesses, a sharper lip spoiler with three-dimensional detailing and a larger new grille and bumper intakes.

Of course, like the STI hatch - and now WRX sedan and hatch model - the all-new STI sedan is draped in wider front and rear quarter panels that stretch out beyond the headlights and tail-lights.

The suspension changes applied to the 2011 STIs were previewed by the 2010 WRX STI Special Edition sold previously in North America.

Subaru says the new chassis tune, which it claims is the result of painstakingly detailed development, including testing at Germany’s famed Nurburgring racetrack, has resulted in the best-handling STI models Subaru has ever offered.

“The continuous evolution and development of the WRX STI is driven by the strong, loyal and vocal support from thousands of enthusiastic owners of this exciting high-performance vehicle,” said executive vice-president and COO of Subaru of America, Tom Doll.

“The 2011 four-door WRX STI will expand the appeal of this iconic performance model to a wider range of driving enthusiasts.”

The STI continues to come with specific chassis components and tuning, including aluminium front lower L-arms to reduce unsprung weight, while MY11 changes include a lowered ride height, new ‘pillow-ball’ front bushings and stiffer rear (double wishbone) suspension sub-frame bushings to increase camber and toe stiffness.

Both STI models will come with higher-rate springs and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars than before. The latter are up 1mm to 21mm at the front and up 1mm to 19mm at the rear, while Subaru says spring rates have increased by 15.6 per cent up front and a big 53 per cent at rear.

Finally, both 2011 STIs will ride on standard new 18x8.5-inch alloy wheels, which are said to weigh 8kg less and come with high-lustre paint. The STI’s even lighter optional BBS forged aluminium wheels will be highlighted by a special silver hig-lustre paint for 2011.

The six-speed manual-only STI will continue to come with exclusive Brembo performance brakes, comprising four vented discs with ‘Super Sport ABS’, electronic brake-force distribution and VDC electronic stability/traction control.

Likewise, there is no change to the STI’s Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD)m which adds three automatic control modes and a manual mode with six driver-selectable diff locking settings to Subaru’s all-wheel drive system.

While exact Australian specifications and prices won’t be announced until closer to the local launch, the 2011 STI also comes with a new black/silver cabin finish, while its interior trim panels, steering wheel airbag cover and steering wheel switches are now ‘dark cast metallic’.

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