Subaru's New Toys, What to Expect
Subaru is about to release new performance versions of the already successful BRZ and WRX STI, will they be worth the extra cash?
Okay, here they are. The brand new, but also at the same time not really new at all, Subaru BRZ TS and the Subaru WRX STI Type RA. If I sound underwhelmed there’s a reason. Subaru teased us with these ideas in early June and most, if not all, of us wanted them to deliver on something huge. Subaru has been lacking compared to their competition and needs to step it up. But in reality most of us knew in the back of our mind that this was going to be a little bit of an expected, predictable, disappointment.
Let’s start with the BRZ. A very popular car that comes standard with 200 brake horsepower and rear wheel drive, making it a fun little car. When it first reached the American market along with its Toyota joint-venture twin, the GT86 it was exciting. Finally an affordable Japanese sports car with rear wheel drive and a little power. But we in the motoring community wanted more, we always do, the search for power never ends. Our hopes and dreams have been filled with the idea of BRZ with more power and even more fun. Everyone speculated a turbo charged version was soon to come. Its been several years and that still has not occurred. So when Subaru released a picture of a BRZ with an STI symbol on a giant rear spoiler we got giddy. A week later the details came and the brand new BRZ would be…a BRZ TS? What the hell is that?
Well, let me tell you. It’s absolutely everything and anything that a let down feels like. Like when you wanted a shiny new Xbox but instead you got a Gamecast. Something totally made up. So what exactly do you get with this TS model? A bunch of new suspension upgrades, a bunch of red accents everywhere, a giant spoiler and no extra power. The whole point of the BRZ was the ability to get it loose on the back end and Subaru has made that more difficult while simultaneously adding weight. There is good news though. They are only shipping 500 of these things and when 500 idiots buy one we’ll see if they send over some more. I may be coming across as a bit negative but In my opinion you need something better than just some bolt on parts you can get for probably cheaper somewhere else from a third party.
Perhaps we won’t see a turbo charged model soon because, well, Subaru has had no trouble selling the BRZ. These things are everywhere and looking at it fiscally there is no need to do a major renovation when things are going just fine. So a few small adjustments now and we can keep our hopes and dreams on the table for a turbo brz.
On to the STI Type RA. This ones a little different. We all know the Subaru WRX and STIs are very quick fun and good selling cars sitting with 265 and 305 horsepower respectfully. That being said when Subaru teased us with a carbon fiber roof photo of a new version of the STI we were more excited than the teaser shot of the BRZ. The STI has been a little bit in the past compared to its little brother the WRX. The WRX has direct injection and an all knew motor. The STI still has the same port injected motor that is now over a decade old. To sum that up, basically its running on windows XP from 15 years ago. And they weren’t keeping this motor around because it was reliable. This thing was prone to spin bearings, blow pistons rings and just be all around unreliable. So an upgrade is long over due and our hopes and dreams were once again tested again. Subaru teased again with the prospect of an STI that would hopefully be direct injection and hopefully 350 horsepower, 45 more than the standard STI. Well guess what happened.
This was not the sinking disappointment of the BRZ but it wasn’t nearly what we wanted. The good news is it actually has some major improvements. The Carbon fiber roof makes the car exceptionally lighter. It has light weight forged BBS wheels and newer, better cold air intake, and a better flowing new exhaust. More fast go parts. The pistons have even been bumped up in quality and the Electronic Control Unit has been reprogrammed to allow for more power. All this along with some better brakes, suspension and even a short throw shifter and carbon fiber wing. That seems like a lot, and it is. We can speculate that this will cost roughly 10 grand more than the standard STI putting it at $50,000. That also seems like a lot, and it is. So what does all this get you as far as performance is concerned? Well with all these upgrades your new STI type RA has a blistering, neck braking, ear popping, 310 Horsepower.
Wait, what? Are you serious?
Okay so ten grand in upgrades for 5 more horsepower, 5. I can do that in a garage by myself with a fifth of the cost in parts. Now the power to weight ratio is improved due to the weight reduction but come on this has to be the worst, most disappointingly expensive, but completely predictable turn of events.
Subaru has a history for not improving on power and going with other upgrades first. The new STI we are hoping for will have to wait until another 3 to 5 years. Our hopes and dreams were once again teased and our heart strings pulled for another Gamecast. This puts Subaru in a rather interesting position. These models were and attempt to keep their demographic held over until the all new models come out. Subaru knows that the Ford Focus RS is on sale in America and winning in every side by side comparison test. Its simply a better car. Subaru has obviously made a mistake and these cars feel like little bandaids from the school nurse to hold everything together until we get stitches from the doctor.
We shall see what the future will hold for Subaru as they are doing better than ever before. Casual automobile sales are up and in that respect Subaru is doing great but they need to stay relevant with both casual drivers and motoring enthusiasts and can no longer rely on brand loyalty as the quality of car production as a whole is improving rapidly across all brands. What was once a niche demographic of car buyers is now a booming market all across America and it will be interesting to see what Subaru does to keep the people interested.
Overall, sure, this was a bit of a disappointment but it is something. We have to keep in mind that 2020 isn’t that far away and Subaru has a history of doing a few facelifts before unveiling a new vehicle that we hope to actually be ahead of the curve as it should be.