Subaru is a real Jekyll and Hyde kind of car company. They are best known for making all-wheel drive wagons and sedans that are efficient, practical, dependable and, largely not that memorable. Their bread and butter is selling to outdoorsy types that do a lot of hiking and camping or need to haul kids back and forth.
And then there are Subaru offerings that are mean, nasty little beasts. Cars derived from World Rally Championship entrants that can reach and maintain astonishingly high velocities across snow, and glare ice in the middle of the night racing across the Alpes Maritimes.
Take for example Subaru’s two latest mean, nasty offerings, the limited edition WRX STI Type RA and BRZ tS.
I’ll dive into this one since it’s something hardcore gearheads have been clamoring for since the BRZ first hit the streets. The BRZ is, in many ways, sort of like a coupe version of a Miata with a Subbie flat-four under the hood. That is to say, it’s fun, tossable, addicting, and sadly, rather underpowered. But, given the deep, tempting parts bin Subaru has at their disposal, fans of the marque have been screeching for a hot rod model since day one.
Enter the Subaru BRZ tS.
BRZ, already no slouch in the ultra-low center of gravity and precision handling department, now gets STI-tuned SACHS dampers and coil springs (front and rear) as well as flexible V-braces in the engine compartment. There are added stiffeners to the chassis and sub-frame that improve steering response. The tS also comes with 18-inch lightweight STI wheels (a first) shod with 215/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires for increased grip and quicker turns. Wanna stop? Brembo brakes at all four corners are there to help you do just that.
BRZ tS Exterior Treatments
The outside has special bits of styling flash here and there. There’s an aggressive looking STI rear carbon fiber spoiler that is manually adjustable. There are also STI designed front, rear, and side underspoilers for better traction and stability. There’s an exclusive Cherry Blossom Red accent around the front grille, a unique rear bumper cover, and a BRZ tS badge on the rear hatch. Also, as Subbie is want to do, the fog lights have been removed and replaced with STI fog light covers, which, if you ask me, is dumb. More light please.
BRZ tS Interior Appointments
On the inside, the cabin features black leather and Alcantara upholstery with flashy red stitching and accents slathered all over the place, including the steering wheel, door, dash panels, knee pads, shifter, and emergency brake boots. The front seats have red leather bolsters and the seatbacks are embroidered with a tS logo. The interior door trim and the gauge cluster visor are unique; the center console has a cast black finish. Finally, the BRZ tS comes standard with red front seat belts and a frameless interior rear view mirror.
WRX STI Type RA
The RA designation stands for “Record Attempt” and has been applied to various Subaru performance models over the years. In the case of this RA, the “Record Attempt” will be a Nürburgring speed record this summer. Huzzah! So, okay, that follows, but at the same time “WRX STI Type RA” is way too many little appended letters. Auto companies have to stop doing this.
The 2018 WRX STI Type RA delivers increased performance via weight reduction, suspension modifications, and engine upgrades. There’s a carbon fiber roof panel, the spare tire is gone; a carbon fiber pedestal wing has been added, and so have lightweight BBS 19-inch forged alloy wheels, wrapped in 245/35 R19 Yokohama Advan Sports tires.
Power & Performance
Beneath the hood is Subbie’s ubiquitous 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine, now increased to 310 horsepower. The extra ponies are thanks to a new, STI-spec’d cold air intake and high flow performance exhaust. The ECU has been re-tuned and stronger pistons have been slid into the bores. The six-speed transmission gets a revised 3rd gear ratio and a short throw shifter.
Handling gets upgraded with inverted front struts (lessening unsprung weight) and the rear double wishbone suspension gets Bilstein dampers just like the front. A modified multi-mode center diff control gives the car better stability. The Brembo brake system, scary-looking monoblock six-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers, seem to be enough to stop a freight train in their exclusive silver finish. The rotors are cross-drilled for better heat dissipation, natch.
Like the uprated BRZ, the WRX STI Type RA has an exclusive Cherry Blossom Red accent around the front mesh grille and rear bumper cover. There is also the aforementioned STI front underspoiler for better stability at high speeds. A roof-mounted shark fin antenna and STI fender badges now come in a black finish, and just to let other drivers know what you got, there’s a special badge on the rear deck lid.
On the inside, the WRX STI Type RA features Recaro front seats with red bolsters and stitching, and embossed STI logos on the head restraints. The steering wheel is wrapped in Ultrasuede for better grip and has a black gloss-finish center spoke insert with the STI logo. Push-button start? Yup. And each model will be individually numbered with a plaque mounted on the center console.
Both the 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA and BRZ tS will be available in WR Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, and Crystal White Pearl. No matter which one you get, go for the World Rally Blue. Always go with the factory racing colors. Both are limited to just 500 units and will arrive at Subaru dealers in the first quarter of 2018.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.