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2020 Subaru WRX STI Spec R review

By Louis Cordony, 23 Feb 2020 Reviews

Subaru WRX STI Spec R review feature

Is the aging rally rocket still worth a look?

We've often said that progress has left the Subaru WRX STI in its wake. So when we recently drove one we were curious as to how this warrior was ageing six years on from the current generation’s launch.

Subaru, in typical Japanese tradition, has made continuous micro-improvements to the car over the years and here, in Spec R form, the changes are starting to work.

In traffic, the six-speed manual shifts with surprising smoothness, the larger six-piston brakes offer more feel and, while STI has explained that it has tried to massage BMW M3-like performance-luxury into its cars since the mid-2000s, it’s only now that the STI’s interior fit and finish has reached levels even remotely capable of honouring that statement. Mind you, the Recaro seats’ horribly flat cushions and smoothed-off bolsters are unforgivable, especially in something that produces this much cornering grip.

When that 2.5-litre flat-four’s turbo gets huffing in the six-speed manual’s incredibly short first few gears, the STI lunges out of corners unlike anything else. However, the turbo lag feels so mid-’90s. As well as that, the stiff ride remains one-dimensional and the steering is plagued with kickback. So while there’s lots to like, there’s also lots we’d happily forget. 

Tested and rated on MOTOR reviews

 2.5-litre flat-4, turbo
Power: 221kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 407Nm @ 4000rpm
Drive: AWD
Weight: 1508kg
Price: $58,940