Subaru WRX STi 2014 review

20 Jun, 2014 11:30am Luke Madden

Subaru WRX STi rally legend returns in bid to recapture glory days


When things have moved on so far in the powertrain world it’s a shame to see this old engine being reused in the Subaru WRX STi – it’s quick but nowhere near as efficient or flexible as a more modern turbo. On the plus side, the handling is a real highlight, providing levels of grip and engagement that are quite hard to come by. It’s good value but it’s not our go-to choice

There was a time not too long ago when it looked like we wouldn’t see another saloon-bodied Subaru WRX STi in the UK, but with enough interest and a favourable exchange rate, here it is.

Visually, it’s almost unrecognisable compared with the hatchback style of the last model but a few important cues remain, like the bulging wheelarches and gaping intake in the bonnet. That huge wing was always a features of previous versions of the Subaru WRX STi until the last generation so it’s nice to see it make a comeback, and it's also worth remembering that gold alloy wheels are on the options list if you want your Subaru to look like the McRae-inspired Impreza of old.

It’s far from subtle, though - the huge bonnet scoop and rear wing are definitely not for the faint-hearted, but that bold styling does at least fit with the Subaru rally heritage.

Underneath the skin, however, things haven’t changed quite so much. The 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer engine is the same as the one in the last generation car, producing the same 296bhp and delivered through the very same six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel-drive system. Together they allow for a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds but the power delivery is the same as ever.

Subaru WRX STi 2014 - interior

What that means is that it doesn’t feel particularly quick under about 3000rpm – only once your past that point do you really get the full brunt of the acceleration. And that four-wheel-drive system ensures that even coming out of a tight bend you can floor the throttle and it’ll hook up to instantly sling you out the other side.

It’s in the corners that the WRX STi really shines – torque vectoring and a chassis that’s 140 per cent stiffer than the old car means it’s great at finding a line through a bend and resolutely sticking to it, no matter how hard you push. The hydraulic steering has got loads of weight to it and it’s good at letting you know exactly how much grip is on offer, too.

But while the handling is better than ever the interior still isn’t quite up to scratch. The dashboard is made of a nice soft-touch material but everything else looks cheap next to a Volkswagen Golf R. And the fuel economy is dreadful, too, boasting 27.2mpg, which will be more like 20mpg in the real world. Subaru has also stretched the wheelbase by 25mm compared with the outgoing car, so there’s definitely more room in the back than there is in a Golf.

It’s certainly nowhere near as rounded as the Volkswagen, but the Subaru does at least undercut the Volkswagen by around £1,000. It’s packed full of standard kit like heated seats and a reversing camera, too.

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Nice one. They've at long last given their customers what they've always wanted in the first place instead of trying to palm them off with a below-par hot hatch.

I've seen elephants with nicer backsides than that - it's awful.

Reassuringly ugly! Sad to hear the interior plastics haven't improved - I had a 2010 WRX Turbo and I've seen better plastic on a well-known burger chain's freebie toys


you ARE awful, thank you very much!

You're entitled to your (psychic, in the absence of a photo of me?) opinion even thought it doesn't add much to the debate.

Looks like menacing actually. much more love for this in the US than here. see motortrend vid focus st v this. what a blast

Oh honestly autoexpress? You have to bring the damn golf to every test?

I hope Volkswagen rots and takes you with. Honestly. You are that boring.

FAK you.

This comment awaits moderation ha ha.

I think the interior is nice, it looks the biz, but I'm afraid the old inefficient engine, just doesn't cut it anymore.

If they want this thing to sell, then they really do need to fit a revised engine with seriously reduced emissions & much better economy.

Well a VW Golf R is probably about the only thing out there, that you can "benchmark" a car like the Scooby against.

Everyone knocks VW, but the problem is they set the bar so high, when it comes to quality & VFM. And when it comes to trading in they have good residuals too.

Really?! The VW Golf I owned certainly didn't set the bar high in terms of quality or reliability - thats for sure! True, the residuals are decent which was good for me, as I was glad to get shot of it. VW may set the bar in terms of image and clever branding/marketing but in the real world there are actually many more appealing alternatives - I discovered this myself after VW ownership!

Well like everything that's manufactured, you could have got a lemon, statistically & by the numbers of cars produced, you can almost guarantee that someone somewhere will get a duffer!

Unfortunately, this time it was you.

For me, I've stopped buying VW's because they've put themselves out of my price range, for the specification that I want.

Ignore this one, he's a troll.

Look at his profile and you'll find that most of his posts contain swearing & vitriol.

Just report him to Disqus & flag it, that's if AE's worthless moderators can be bothered to pull their fingers out of their back sides and do something about him.

Your comment awaits moderation because it's foolish and ill-conceived.

The STi and Golf R are both ~£30k, both have a turbocharged 4, both have around 300bhp, similar performance.

What else would you cross-shop? A45 AMG? Too expensive. M235i? RWD, bit more cost. Seat's new cupra, Megane, future Focus RS are all FWD. Not sure you can get an Evo X still in the UK.

The Golf R appeals with its smart, un- boy racery looks, higher residuals, highly tunable engine. For not very much money one can have a highly usable 400+ hp car.

Not quite. The problems I experienced with my (previous shape) Golf were widely known by and experinced by other owners. Online forums were a testament to this. If mine was a duffer it seems that there were an awful lot more duffers out there! The dealer was useless and VW 'customer services' was non existent. I will now always laugh when I hear VW and quality mentioned in the same breath!

Having had a Golf R all it could muster was 23mpg, which is identical to my current Mustang GT. You're more likely to get close to the official mpg figure in this Suburu than you ever are in a Golf, or any German car for that matter.

Key specs

  • Price: £28,995
  • Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl boxer turbo
  • Power: 296bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 159mph
  • Economy/CO2: 27.2mpg (official)/242g/km
  • On sale: Now