Subaru WRX STI Type RA: First Drive

Posted on Feb 6 2018 - 6:21am by Lisa Chan

How do you make someone’s eyes go wide as the sun? Show them the window sticker for this: the most expensive Subaru ever sold in the US. This is the more-different-than-it-looks 2018 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type RA, a car that would absolutely kill at scrabble if you got enough letters at once to make it; also if you could use proper nouns. Anyway, that wide-eyed viewer is probably just thinking something to the effect of, “Forty nine grand for a 310-horsepower Subaru? Who on Earth is going to want a $49,000 trackday-special Subaru that doesn’t even have any extra power?”

Subaru WRX STI

In order to answer this question, we have to go back to 1998. Your author was a junior in high school, having purchased his first real car, an EJ25-powered Subaru Legacy GT. Exxon and Mobil merged, in order to do charity work together, and Budweiser released its acclaimed “Real Men of Genius” radio ad spots, affectionately saluting the unsung heroes of what would later be called ‘life hacking,’ before that term was a thing. Those ad spots often had me out loud laughing in my Legacy GT; my dumb friends and I would eagerly await each new commercial drop. And I have discovered one of today’s more DL real men of genius.

Nevertheless, It’s a welcome bit of honesty to include the word “Attempt,” the “A,” in RA, in the car’s actual name, because as of this writing, said vehicle does not, to this author’s knowledge, actually possess any records. A WRX STI with a Type RA badge does hold the four-door sedan record at the Nurburgring, but that was less road car and more time attack machine totally built by Prodrive.

Moving on, here’s what you get for your extra $9,000 when you order up the only Type RA your local dealer is going to get (500 cars will be produced; there are 600+ dealers).

The shocks are from Bilstein, a first for Subaru, with custom valving for the RA. There’s new 19-inch wheels with Yokohama Advan tires, an aero kit, re-sculpted front fascia, and an adjustable carbon fiber GT wing (Shared with the BRZ tS).

On the driveline front, Subaru has revised the third gear ratio, one of those problems I didn’t even know needed solving, and added, to the entire STI range, six-piston Monoblock Brembo front brakes, with two-piston rears carrying over.

The revised third gear is something I didn’t particularly notice until spending a few minutes in a standard 2018 STI Subaru had on hand, and immediately agreeing with the decision to change it. There’s a certain type of bend that was in between top of second and just-below-boost in third gear before, and now there’s a spooled gear for every type of corner.

Once I learned where that limit was, I, the owner, would promptly remove these tires and install Michelins; based on the BRZ tS grip levels on this track, the PS4S would almost certainly be quicker and quieter, though I suspect the softer sidewall may impact the feel..