Subaru Tecnica International, the automaker’s motorsports division, was founded in 1988. Today it’s still a small group of 120 enthusiasts responsible for Subaru’s race cars and high-performance STI models.
With a price tag of $31,520, the WRX STI launched in the United States for the 2004 model year, just two years after the WRX had finally reached America. Although the two look similar, the STI is a very different machine, packing a larger 2.5-liter engine, a six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, larger Brembo brakes, bigger BBS wheels and tires, and its unmistakable rear spoiler, which had been battle-tested by World Rally gods Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, and Richard Burns.
Thanks to 14.5 pounds of turbo boost, they were packing 300 hp from Subaru’s flat EJ25 four-banger, and magazine tests of the day clocked them to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. That’s almost a full second quicker than the EJ20-powered 227-hp WRX at the time.
This was the second generation (or GD generation) of the Impreza sedan, which launched in 2000, and Subaru didn’t make many changes to the STI during its four-year run. But there are a few key differences buyers should know about.
In 2004, the STI used the same 5×100 hub bolt pattern as the WRX, but in 2005, it changed to 5×114.3 and the STI’s BBS wheels were widened by half an inch. In 2006, the torque split of the all-wheel-drive system was also modified to send more power to the front. The original split was 35/65 but it changed to 41/59.
In 2007, the six-speed got slightly taller second-, third-, and fourth-gear ratios. Changes to the engine were very minor over the years, but they include tweaks to the wastegate actuator and ECU in 2007, and a later reflash fixed some hesitation issues.
Most of the changes were visual. In 2004, the STI wore clear headlamps and red taillights, but Subaru switched to a slightly darker smoked reflector for the headlamps in 2005. Big changes came in 2006, however, when Subaru ditched the “blobeye” design for the “hawkeye” design. Again the lights were tinted, but in 2007 Subaru went back to the clear lamps front and back.
In 2005, Subaru added small plastic body color flares to the rear wheel wells, and a year later the STI wore roof vane spoilers, which its designers cribbed from its rival, the Mitsubishi Evo. Later cars also got a small black diffuser under the rear bumper.
The door decals were tweaked, as well. The STI logo and Subaru Tecnica International text were on the same line the first year, but from 2005–07 Subaru Technica was stacked on top of the word International. If the car is wearing the wrong stickers, it may be a sign it has had some bodywork, but not always.
The STI Limited model was added for 2007, but just 800 were built, 400 in white and 400 in gray. These are the only STIs with leather upholstery. They also got heated front seats, a sunroof, black instead of gold brake calipers, and a slightly different wheel design. Gold wheels were not offered and Subaru replaced the STI’s signature oversized spoiler with a small lip.
“These are really hard to find that haven’t been thrashed,” says Witkin.
The driver’s seats changed slightly over the years, and the door panels got more armrest padding and more Alcantara in 2005. The heating and air conditioning controls and center stack were also modified that year.
19 June 2019