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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

The Winged All-Terrain Vehicle: 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Quick Drive

Amou "Joe" Seto |
April 16, 2015 | 8:14 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI pictured in Ice Silver Metallic (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI pictured in Ice Silver Metallic (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

When people think of practical cars, what comes to mind? Big SUVs? Four-door sedans? Crossovers? And what about when they think of sporty cars? Ferraris? Corvettes?

What people consider to be good looking, sporty or practical is all subjective, but I'm here to tell you about a car that I consider to be all three of these things. Say hello to the 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

First, the name. It’s quite a mouthful of letters, but it’s there to distinguish itself from the other models.The WRX stands for World Rally Cross and the STI stands for Subaru Technica International. It sounds lame when you say it unabbreviated, but the car itself is anything but lame. Since one STI logo placed on the trunk of the car wasn’t enough, Subaru decided to place the STI logo everywhere: on the wheels, brake calipers, seats, center console, front grille and steering wheel. And just in case you somehow manage to miss all of that, there’s a massive wing on the back that's specific to the WRX STI sedan. 

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Powering the WRX STI is a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5L DOHC 16V 4-cylinder boxer engine. The engine sends its power to all four wheels through a close ratio 6-speed manual gearbox. The All-Wheel Drive system is symmetrical, meaning that the driveshafts are of equal length on both front and rear differentials. The WRX STI gets a unique symmetrical AWD system that gets a drive-adjustable center differential and limited-slip differentials for the front and rear differentials. Put in plain English, the WRX STI provides insane cornering on almost any terrain -- tarmac, gravel, dirt or snow.

Other performance enhancements include STI-specific suspension components, a Brembo performance braking system with a “Super-Sport anti-lock braking system," 18-inch wheels and a massive rear wing. The interior receives bucket seats with a fixed headrest to keep you in the seat and not in the center console during hard cornering.

The large rear wing on the WRX STI is trademark of the car (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The large rear wing on the WRX STI is trademark of the car (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

All this tech lying in the WRX STI may give the impression that it’s going to be impossible to drive, but the fact is that it’s about as easy to drive as a Corolla. The clutch is lightweight and easy to operate with effortless gear changes, and visibility in all directions is excellent. Unlike most modern cars that utilize electric power steering, which is about as communicative as an angry ex-wife, the hydraulic steering provides superior feedback and feel. The short gearing reduces turbo lag to the point where it’s close to nonexistent and flies through the gears as if it’s being chased. Bring the revs up and the engine goes from a deep rumble to an angry lion who hasn’t eaten in three days.  

The EJ257 that powers the WRX STI (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)
The EJ257 that powers the WRX STI (Amou "Joe" Seto/Neon Tommy)

Despite all of this X-rated performance on the Impreza WRX STI, the car is still based on the standard Impreza, which means you get the same practicality as one. You get a trunk that’s about the size of the Grand Canyon, four doors and five seats, except only this time, you have a large rear spoiler that can act as a table and produce downforce (unfortunately not both at the same time).

If you’re looking for a hardcore performance car that’s easy to drive, practical, good-looking, reasonably priced and equipped with a four-wheel drive, you can choose the WRX STI, its lesser cousin the WRX, or the about-to-be-discontinued-for-some-reason Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X/Ralliart. Since the WRX STI will still be around in 2016, I’d say go with the WRX STI.

At-A-Glance Specifications

Price as tested: $34,600

Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16V 4-cylinder boxer engine with Dual Active Valve Control System (Dual AVCS) "EJ257"

Boost Pressure: 14.7 PSI

Transmission: 6 speed close-ratio manual transmission only

Horsepower: 305 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 290 lb-ft. @ 4,000 rpm

Tire Size: 245/40R18

Tire: Dunlop SP600 Summer Tires

Curb Weight: 3,384 lbs 

Weight Distribution: N/A

Cargo Volume: 11.3 cu. ft

Fuel Capacity: 16.9 gal

MPG (EPA Estimated) (City/Highway/Combined): 17/23/19 

Special thanks to Carlo Lavarello and Subaru Pacific (Torrance, CA) for giving Neon Tommy the opportunity to review this car.

Reach Staff Reporter Amou (Joe) Seto here. Follow him on Twitter here 



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