When a generation of a vehicle is about to be retired, automakers usually reveal special edition models to attract new customers. It’s also a nice farewell for the vehicle and an easier way to sell cars. The story of the Subaru WRX and WRX STI is no different. The car was introduced over five years ago, and we’ve already seen concepts of what the next-gen WRX could look like, and we’ve heard rumors that say the next STI could make 400 hp. After revealing the Series.Gray, STI Type RA and STI S209 over the past few years, Subaru showed the WRX and WRX STI Series.White at the 2019 LA Auto Show, and we recently had the chance to get behind the wheel and run our series of standardized tests on these two powerful models.
Before we get into the numbers and driving impressions, let’s talk about what’s different with the Series.White models. Subaru is limiting the WRX and WRX STI to 500 units each, and they both add the exclusive Ceramic White exterior paint, Crystal Black mirror caps, and matte bronze BBS wheels (19-inch for the WRX and 20-inch for the STI). Inside, both models get suede Recaro performance seats, which are usually only found on the STI, and a six-speed manual transmission is the sole gearbox for both Series.White models.
There are no changes under the hood—the STI Series.White continues to be powered by Subaru’s aging 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four that delivers 310 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, while the WRX’s heart is a 2.0-liter turbo flat-four with 268 hp and 258 lb-ft. What did change under the skin is the suspension; these Series.White models get Bilstein dampers and Brembo brakes. The STI also adds Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. To make the STI a bit lighter, Subaru ditched the spare tire in favor of a tire-repair kit.
Don’t let its appearances trick you. Despite the fancy color and good-looking wheels, the STI continues to be harsh to drive. With its heavy clutch pedal, you’ll feel like you’re getting a workout every time you press the clutch. And like an old Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the STI’s stiff suspension will make you want to visit the chiropractor more often. Even at the track, where the open field makes it easier to drive, the STI wasn’t as friendly. There’s also a lot of pros, though. Its steering is direct and gives you plenty of feedback, and the engine sounds and feels like it came from a rally car. But if you’re looking for something smoother, the regular WRX might be the right choice. Its suspension is smoother, and the engine is quite peppy. The clutch pedal isn’t as firm, and the transmission is easy to shift. The engine note, though not as loud as the STI’s, is still sporty, and the steering feels nicely weighted with great feedback of what’s happening on the road.
During our straight-line acceleration tests, road test editor Chris Walton had trouble launching the STI consistently. “It either bogs, or you have to feather the clutch so much that it starts to feel abusive,” he said. “The clutch is really grabby, the shifter is notchy, and it just doesn’t like the dragstrip.” Those launch difficulties hobbled the STI’s acceleration; it was slower on the 0–60 mph run than the regular WRX, taking 6 seconds flat compared to the WRX’s 5.6 seconds. Despite being more powerful, the STI barely beat the WRX on the quarter mile run (14.2 seconds at 101.6 mph vs. 14.0 seconds at 98.7 mph).
Like Walton, testing director Kim Reynolds preferred the WRX over the STI, though he praised the high-performance model for its flat and stable posture on the figure eight. “Oddly enough, this one is almost more fun than the STI because of its slightly greater roll on the corners,” he said.
The Brembo brakes did help both cars, however. Compared to the a 2018 WRX Premium and 2018 WRX STI, the Series.White stopped from 60 to 0 mph in a shorter distance. The STI came to a stop after 103 feet (compared to 109), whereas the WRX stopped in 110 feet (compared to 113). And besides the better grab, both Subarus look much more handsome with those brakes.
Inside, both models are pretty much the same. The Series.White’s 7.0-inch infotainment screen is unchanged and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The suede upholstered Recaro seats provide plenty of lateral support and enough cushion. Despite inheriting its motorsports performance and looks, the WRX and WRX STI continue to be quite spacious inside. Even the second row has enough legroom, and there’s plenty of cargo room for luggage.
If you’re thinking about getting a Series.White but can’t decide on the model, we’d recommend the regular WRX. The STI is too harsh and uneasy, and besides being more expensive, it’s also a bit slower than the WRX. We get the rally spirit and the legacy of the STI brand, but the WRX is just as fast, and you still get the sporty looks (sans the gigantic wing). We don’t know how much longer this current-gen WRX will be around, but the Subaru WRX and WRX STI Series.White combine the stylish appearance and performance in a way that few can.
|2020 Subaru WRX||2020 Subaru WRX STI|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$35,259||$43,959|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/268-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve flat-4||2.5L/310-hp/290-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve flat-4|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,326 lb (59/41%)||3,399 lb (60/40%)|
|WHEELBASE||104.3 in||104.3 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||180.9 x 70.7 x 58.1 in||180.9 x 70.7 x 58.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.6 sec||6.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.0 sec @ 98.7 mph||14.2 sec @ 101.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||110 ft||103 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)||1.00 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.3 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)||24.5 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/27/23 mpg||16/22/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles||211/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.83 lb/mile||1.06 lb/mile|
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