When you think about Subaru, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of the Subaru boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel-drive, or descriptors like practical, reliable, and affordable? While Subaru certainly embodies each of these traits, you’ll find that Subaru has much more to offer than what you’re accustomed to seeing in models like the Forester, Outback, and Impreza. All it takes is venturing over to your local Subaru car dealership and asking to see the WRX and the WRX STI.
The practicality and reliability found in models like the Ascent, Impreza, Forester, and Outback are not quite what Subaru had in mind with the WRX. Sure, it looks like a Subaru and bears the Subaru name, but the WRX is built to perform. It’s Subaru’s speed demon, and the WRX STI takes that need for speed to the next level, reflecting Subaru’s strong presence in the motorsport circuit. Here’s a closer look at the mechanics and power behind the 2021 WRX and the 2021 WRX STI, both of which reveal everything you never knew a Subaru had to offer until now.
Turbo Power at the Ready
Subaru’s exclusive use of the boxer engine has long distinguished the automaker and is one of the best unkept secrets in the automotive industry. The engine gets its name from the boxer-like movement of the pistons, which are positioned on a horizontal plane. Half of the pistons move one way while the other half moves in the opposite direction, similar to a boxer’s fists in a one-two punch pattern.
The boxer engine’s horizontal layout optimizes the transfer of power and presents a low, symmetrical profile. This enhances the vehicle’s overall stability by giving the vehicle a lower center of gravity, making for more agile and responsive handling. How does this affect the WRX and the WRX STI?
As the ultimate performance sedan in the Subaru lineup, the 2021 WRX STI holds nothing back when you step on the accelerator. Its sheer power comes from Subaru’s 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine that delivers 310 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque for exceptional acceleration and handling. The driver-controlled center differential is a multi-mode feature that allows you to further customize the STI’s performance by fine-tuning the torque distribution across the front and rear axles. This effectively gives the STI true four-wheel drive capability and makes it an incredible performer for rally racing.
The standard WRX might not be as powerful as the WRX STI, but it’s an impressive performer of its own merit and can easily satisfy your need for speed. The WRX is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine that delivers 268 horsepower, which is noticeably less than the WRX STI. You’ll find the WRX comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission for optimal performance, but you can opt for the Sport Lineartronic CVT that includes manual shift modes. Like the WRX STI, the WRX also comes with Subaru’s exclusive symmetrical all-wheel drive, active torque vectoring, and Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control.
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Track-Tuned Suspension
Subaru is renowned for equipping its models with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which is exactly what you’ll find on the WRX and the WRX STI. It’s also part of what makes the models incredibly fun to drive since the system is balanced on the centerline of the sedans. This ensures an even distribution of weight, and that translates to optimal power and torque distribution whether you’re on the track, cruising at highway speeds, or navigating a winding backroad.
The all-wheel-drive system works with tools like Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Vehicle Dynamics Control to give you more control behind the wheel regardless of the terrain or weather. The system can send power to every wheel for maximum traction or deliver power to the wheel or wheels with the most traction depending on the condition or environment. In turn, this specific distribution of power means greater stability and control.
Along with symmetrical all-wheel drive, the WRX is equipped with a track-tuned suspension that further optimizes the sedan’s performance. The spring and damper determine how far the suspension travels, which is why you’ll find aggressive rates on the WRX for optimal performance. This works in conjunction with the wide summer tires that improve grip and the anti-roll bars in the front and rear for maximum stability. Add in the double-wishbone rear suspension, and there’s no question that the WRX is one of the best-handling models ever to come off the Subaru production line.
Vehicle Dynamics Control and Active Torque Vectoring
The WRX and WRX STI’s cornering ability is further improved with features like Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) with Active Torque Vectoring (ATV). Think about what happens when you oversteer or understeer and you’re forced to compensate. This can lead to tragic accidents if you fail to respond in time. Subaru remedies this and improves the WRX and WRX STI’s handling and agility with VDC and ATV.
Vehicle Dynamics Control actively regulates the brake pressure and can increase brake force, maintain steady braking, or decrease brake force as needed based on input from various sensors. When you’re navigating a tight corner and the WRX starts to spin or slide, the VDC automatically adjusts the throttle and braking to help you maintain control. For further customization, WRX and WRX STI come with a three-mode switch – Normal, Traction, and Off. Normal Mode activates VDC and ATV to monitor the vehicle’s performance and intervene when needed. Traction Mode delays the tools to give the sedan the traction it needs to dig itself out of muddy or snowy terrain.
Active Torque Vectoring is similar to Vehicle Dynamics Control, but it’s only concerned with understeer and constantly monitors the inside wheels. In a curve, ATV activates the brakes on the inside wheels to help the car move through the corner on course. This is a performance-focused tool that gives you the confidence and control you need behind the wheel.
Performance At a Price You’ll Love
Do you still think of practicality when you hear the Subaru name? While the Subaru lineup is certainly practical, models like the WRX and the WRX STI prove that there’s more to Subaru than what immediately comes to mind. Subaru’s need for speed dates back to the 1970s when the automaker got involved in rally racing for the first time. A decade later, Subaru launched its performance arm, Subaru Tecnica International (STI), which would further the brand’s footing in the performance segment. This ultimately led to the WRX and the WRX STI that we know and love today.
The WRX and the WRX STI embody Subaru’s vast experience on the racing circuit and everything the automaker has learned over the last four decades. We see this in cutting-edge technology like Vehicle Dynamics Control and Active Torque Vectoring. It’s also apparent in Subaru’s use of the boxer engine and its unique symmetrical all-wheel drive, both of which make the WRX and the WRX STI capable performers on the track.
What’s even better is that Subaru manages to deliver this capability and speed without breaking the bank. The WRX and WRX STI are two of the most affordable performance-focused sedans you’ll find on the road today. The 2021 WRX starts at $27,495 and comes standard with 268-horsepower, track-tuned suspension, Vehicle Dynamics Control with Active Torque Vectoring, and a 6-speed manual transmission. The 2021 WRX STI gives you even more power for $37,245 and is equipped with the 310-horsepower engine, Brembo brakes, and a long list of available upgrades that transform the WRX into the rally car of your dreams.