Small changes for hotshot Subby sedans

Subaru’s performance sedan has been retuned – but we’re talking suspension, not sizzle.


RECALIBRATED suspension and new convenience features are the fundamental changes effected with a just-announced upgrade of the current generation WRX and STi sedans.

Unveiled at the Detroit motor show and thought likely to land in New Zealand around mid-year – though Subaru New Zealand has yet to confirm or deny on this point - the facelift will stand as a final last-blast revision set to see the cars through to the arrival in 2019 of a new-generation line that shifts to the brand’s new global platform that debuts here with the latest Impreza.

So what’s changed? The styling … but just a bit. You can pick the cars by their updated grille work and more intimidating front bumpers, with the STi incorporating larger lateral air dams.

The four-cylinder horizontally-opposed turbocharged drivetrains? Not a jot. Subaru is still being a bit vague on this, but it is thought the current outputs – 197kW/350Nm out of the 2.0-litre WRX and 221kW/407Nm from the 2.5-litre STi – will not alter.

The driving style nonetheless might, as Subaru has apparently reworked the suspension tune in the hope of eliciting something that has never been a hot Subaru strongpoint: Reasonable ride quality.

The WRX models also get updated electric power steering designed to improve feedback through the steering wheel, and tweaks to the six-speed manual are claimed to improve shift feel.

The STI model is now on Brembo brakes, with yellow calipers.

US versions take new adaptive LED headlights that follow the direction of the steering wheel to illuminate corners.

There’s a larger trip computer screen and flagship versions get a 7.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system, like that in the new Impreza. It has Bluetooth, reversing camera, climate air and presumably also mirrors the new infotainment setup, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, now provisioned the new Impreza.

Should we also assume the hotshots will also follow in the Impreza’s tracks and also update to the EyeSight driver assistance and safety system, which in Impreza now has autonomous braking function?

Subaru has already confirmed it will deliver another generation of WRX, which of course will be on the new platform that is set to underpin every new Subaru across the next 10 years and is the first new underpinning since the Legacy was launched in 1989.