Clearly, the problem with the third-generation, hatchback-only version of Subaru's WRX STI was its excessive rear visibility and cargo capacity. Yet none of the innumerable complaints about the racer mentioned these traits. No, everyone simply called it ugly. We instead saw its versatility as the car's primary attribute and told the complainers to cry a river, build a bridge, and jump a rally car over it. Subaru, on the other hand, listened: The 2011 Subaru Impreza
WRX STI can now be had as a sedan. While it's heavier and there's a wing in the rearview, it's also very good.
First, the downsides. The four-door STI is 10 pounds heavier than the hatch and loses 7.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity; its trunk can hold 11.3 cubic feet of luggage. That's about it.
The new look is apropos of previous STIs, iconic for their boxy fenders and massive wings. The STI now carries an intimidating road presence; its accentuated fenders give it the look of a proper successor to the second-generation car, just three years later. Key detailing includes a lower front fascia with an exaggerated inlet and black trim surrounding the grille. Haunches that stretch out past the taillamps plus the large rear wing improve the drag coefficient by 5 percent, boosting top speed to 158 mph.
With the bodywork set, Subaru
turned its attention to the inverted strut front and double wishbone rear suspension of both body styles. The engineering team's aim was to improve steering precision to further minimize mid-corner corrections. The changes actually started last year with the Aspen White STI Special Edition, which itself started by borrowing the suspension from Japanese-market Spec C. While Special Edition had stiffer spring rates, a thicker rear stabilizer bar, and stiffer subframe bushings, the new STI takes it a step further. Its ride height, at 5.9 inches, is even lower, and both the front stabilizer bar and rear springs are stiffer (the latter by 18 percent). Even the new base 18-inch Enkei wheels are four pounds lighter than last year's. Though optional on the sedan, the BBS rolling stock is standard on the hatchback.