Subaru WRX STI Final Edition
The Subaru WRX STI Final Edition is the swansong of a rally legend. But in all honesty, the WRX STI has had its day. Without adaptive damping it’s too stiff to live with every day, and the fuel consumption will make your eyes water. Yet you can’t help but love it. Striking looks and brutal performance are undeniable. And with only 150 available, it could become a collector’s item.
When you see a flash of World Rally Blue, accompanied by a flat-four burble, then you just know it’s a Subaru WRX STI. It is, and always has been, instantly recognisable.
The WRX STI Final Edition is one of the best-looking of the lot, aside from maybe the 3-door 22B and P1 special editions.
Head on, the Final Edition is aggressive and imposing. Angular LED daytime running lights create a striking silhouette at dusk. The corners are broad and pointy, with large grilles and vents to scoop in as much air as possible.
The traditional Subaru bonnet scoop is sunken. That means it doesn’t impose on the driver’s view, but from the front it is big and wide, looking to gobble up chunks of air as you power down the road.
Broad arches give the side profile a muscular feel. Unlike many of its predecessors, the WRX STI Final Edition does not feature gold wheels. The 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels are finished in graphite, which looks superb against the World Rally Blue paint.
Hidden behind the graphite wheels are huge, fluorescent yellow brake calipers. It just wouldn’t be a true WRX STI without these in-your-face features.
At the back, you get the humongous rear spoiler we’ve come to know and love. Quad exhaust pipes are prominent, as is the diffuser in the rear bumper. A shark-fin aerial is more subtle, and rounds off the exterior nicely.
The rear of the car is much more rounded than the angular front end. The result is a car with serious poise, like it’s raring to go.
Step inside the WRX STI Final Edition and you can see the wrinkles starting to show. In recent years we have been spoilt with high-quality interiors on the lowest-model cars, so we come to expect the best.
The plastics are the worst part of the interior. They are terribly hard and scratchy in places, and that just isn’t acceptable any more. The Final Edition mark comes in the form of a sticker near the gear knob. No model number, no debossed headrests. It’s a bit disappointing for what is a last hoorah.
The seats are great, with plenty of side and shoulder bolstering to keep you firmly in place. That being said, they are quite big and cumbersome. The shell style Recaro seats found in previous models were much more visually-appealing.
There is a lot of alcantara featured throughout the cabin, and that’s a good think. Not only does it pay homage to the rallying pedigree, but it is a very modern material to use. Had the WRX STI Final Edition featured an alcantara steering wheel, I think I would have ignored the dodgy plastics altogether.
A chunky, flat(ish)-bottomed steering wheel frames big, red dials which are synonymous WRX STI. Simple yet effective, they allow the driver to reminisce over many hours spent on Gran Turismo as a child.
At the top of the dashboard there is a multi-function display. This features a boost gauge which also shows acceleration percentage use. There are other screens too, but it never left the boost gauge in our week with it, just trying to reach 100% acceleration.
The 2.5-litre, turbocharged flat-four petrol is unchanged for the WRX STI Final Edition. It puts out 300PS and 407Nm of torque.
Despite these sizeable figures the WRX STI Final Edition is not a rip-snorting, fire-breathing animal all the time. Low down it has that all-too familiar burble, but this engine relies heavily on its large turbocharger to generate power.
It has an old-school feel to it. This is an engine that needs to be worked to get the power out of it. Peak torque is only available from 4,000rpm.
There’s turbo lag when you put your foot down, but once it spools up the punchy performance is there. 0-62mph takes 5.2 seconds and the top speed is 159mph, which is certainly fast enough to get you into bother.
Power is sent to the symmetrical all-wheel drive system via a 6-speed manual gearbox. The WRX STI Final Edition features a Driver-Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD) which allows you to alter the driving characteristics.
The three-mode SI-Drive system also changes how the car performs. In ‘Intelligent’ mode it’s reasonably relaxed. In ‘Sport Sharp’ the throttle response is sharp, and the WRX STI is chomping at the bit to be let loose.
What is missing from the stereotypical Subaru experience is a stupidly loud exhaust. There’s no exterior noise, and for the WRX STI Final Edition I would have hoped for a sports exhaust.
Rivals of the Subaru – the likes of the VW Golf R or Ford Focus RS – have all the popping and banging going on. The WRX STI has that characterful ‘boxer’ engine, but without aftermarket interference it isn’t audible enough.
The WRX STI Final Edition is an incredibly quick car. The power is additive. It is a fitting swan song to what is a sad end of an era.
With all its experience on the world rally stage, it won’t come as a great surprise that the WRX STI Final Edition is very competent through the bends.
The AWD system offers plenty of grip, even on the greasiest roads. The DCCD is incredibly useful. Leaving it in ‘Auto’ mode will allow the car’s computer freedom to send the power where it thinks best.
By using manual mode, you can change the bias more to the front or the rear, depending on the conditions. And you really can feel the difference from behind the wheel. Putting the WRX STI in full ‘minus’ mode makes it rather tail-happy.
The steering has a reassuring weight to it. It’s sharp too, allowing you to point that poised front end where you want it, whilst the AWD system ensures you get round the corner quickly.
Stopping isn’t a problem, thanks to massive brakes. The front brakes are Brembo 6-piston calipers with 340mm discs.
What is a slight problem is the suspension. There is no fancy adaptive damping system here, the WRX STI Final Edition has a harsh, performance-oriented setup all the time.
On the track you would be grateful of the setup. On a B-road blast the Subaru is composed and planted. But on the motorway it’s incredibly bouncy. To the point where it becomes tiresome. Go on a long drive in the WRX STI Final Edition and you will arrive at the other end a broken shadow of your former self.
At low speeds through town you feel every bump. I get that this is a performance car, but to work in the modern world even the most hardcore cars have to be compromised to be able to live with them every day.
Economy has never been a strength of the WRX STI. Owners will tell you that the quoted combined fuel consumption of 25.9mpg is considerably better than they get out of their cars.
From our experience, it is possible to exceed this figure. On a decent, leisurely run we actually saw 30mpg. But that was, without doubt, the exception and not the rule.
An economy figure in the low-20s is hard to live with, and results in a fuel tank range of just under 300 miles. Get a bit giddy, and you’ll have to plan fuel stops into journeys, as well as becoming great friends with the local petrol station attendant.
The CO2 emissions make for even worse reading. At 252g/km the WRX STI Final Edition carries a first-year VED rate of £1,760. As eye-watering as that may seem, it gets absorbed into the purchase price so becomes less noticeable.
From the second year onwards, VED is fixed at £140 and, as the WRX STI Final Edition costs less than £40,000 there is no supplement to pay.
The WRX STI Final Edition doesn’t even try to hide its severe lack of green credentials. There’s no start/stop technology, or even an Eco mode on the SI-Drive system. That bonnet scoop is the perfect size to swallow small wildlife.
As with the handling and suspension, there is no compromise with the WRX STI Final Edition. It isn’t economical, nor does it pretend to be. So deal with it.
Sit the WRX STI Final Edition on the driveway, and you could start to feel it’s a practical car.
Being a decent-sized saloon car there’s plenty of room both front and back. It’s easy to get in and out of, with its 4-door configuration. The aforementioned front sports seats are also easier to get in and out of than the old Recaros.
The boot is generous, but suffers from the limited opening space as found on every saloon car. But you could certainly get a decent amount of shopping or, with a bit of jiggery-pokery, luggage in there.
Even that large rear spoiler is more practical than its appearance would suggest. You see it’s perfectly sized and shaped so that you see right through it in the rear view mirror.
The problems with practicality come when you start the car and go for a drive. For starters that firm suspension will eventually cause rear-seat passengers to vomit. Which isn’t very practical at all. The inherent bounciness of the firm suspension is also fatiguing. So a long drive is far from refreshing.
Not that you’d be able to drive all that far between fuel stops anyway. The range is 200-300 miles depending on how gentle you are with the throttle, so the WRX STI Final Edition is not a car for a distance commuter, unless they have a big wallet.
With a reversing camera and lighter steering in ‘Intelligent’ mode, parking isn’t all too difficult. You have to be mindful on full lock however, as the AWD system is fighting itself and the car can stall if you’re a bit too blasé about it.
Subaru has taken the approach of fully loading the WRX STI Final Edition as standard. There are no options to choose from; what you see is what you get.
And there are many things to see. For your convenience the WRX STI Final Edition comes with keyless entry and go. Annoyingly it is set by default with two-stage unlocking, and this can only be changed by a dealer.
One crucial piece of technology that’s missing is satellite navigation. And the fact this isn’t available as an option means there is no opportunity to add it. So your 7-inch touchscreen is missing a seemingly obvious feature.
On the one hand, you don’t need a sat nav because you’ll never get far enough on a tank of fuel to get lost. But on the other hand, if you do get lost you won’t have enough fuel to find the nearest fuel station by chance, so sat nav would have been most useful.
Privacy glass is standard, bolstering those exterior looks. LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights look good, but also ensure you can clearly see the road ahead. Power fold door mirrors are useful in car parks.
But in terms of ‘equipment’ most of what you are paying for is mechanical. That DCCD and all its whizz-kiddery. The Brembo 6-pot brakes and their serious stopping power. There’s even plenty of safety equipment, including a Brake Override system and Brake Assist System, which help guide the WRX STI Final Edition to 5 Euro NCAP stars.
Heated seats and dual-zone climate control are a nice treat, and there is Bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity to blare out your favourite music.
Value For Money
As there are no options on the WRX STI Final Edition, the price you see is also the price you pay. And that price is £33,995.
Remember, that includes the monumental first year VED of £1,760. Now £34,000 is no small sum of money. But a Ford Focus RS would cost a few grand more if you put some toys on it. As would a VW Golf R. And don’t even think about the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, which will end up almost £10,000 more.
Admittedly, all three of those cars would blow the WRX STI out of the water. But aside from the Ford none have even a fraction of the pedigree to beat the Subaru at a game of rally-legend top trumps. Whilst it isn’t a perfect car, the WRX STI Final Edition represents the final chapter in a love affair for many.
For that reason, it is perfectly plausible that the Final Edition will go on to be some sort of collector’s item. Only 150 are to be sold in the UK, making it a reasonably exclusive proposition.
Aside from that, it can still put up a decent fight against the newbies. There’s no denying that it’s still blisteringly quick, and could get you in serious trouble with the Old Bill. What’s more, its AWD system is robust and reliable. Having proven itself on the World Rally stage, the WRX STI makes light work of a typical British B-road.
So forget the fact it does naff-all to the gallon, and will shake your bones to pieces. Go any buy a WRX STI while you still can. Relive those Gran Turismo days.
Or just lose yourself in a blast down your favourite road, remembering the words of the late great Colin McRae: “if in doubt… flat out”.
Facts and Figures
|2.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol
|300PS at 6,000rpm
|407Nm at 4,000rpm
|6-speed automatic gearbox, symmetrical all-wheel drive with Driver-Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD)
|Fuel tank size
|25.9mpg, combined cycle
|N/A braked / N/A unbraked
|Price as tested