Looking At 30 Years Of Subaru’s STI Models

It’s been 30 years since Subaru Tecnica International (STI) was founded, shaping the way the world sees Subaru as a car manufacturer.

The motorsports division of the Japanese car maker has been one of the most successful since 1988, scoring 47 WRC wins along with three World Rally Championships, four class wins in the Nurburgring 24 Hours and a lap record at the same track for sedans in 2017.

The competition-proven engineering has been always present in high-performance Subarus, with the latest, limited production 2018 WRX STI Type RA celebrating the record attempts of the specially prepared WRX STI Type RA NBR at the Nurburgring and the Isle Of Man TT.

The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA is limited to 500 units and offers more power, a carbon fiber roof, Bilstein STI Sport Suspension and a modified Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system.

Subaru also currently offers the limited-run BRZ tS which is tuned by STI and features aerodynamic enhancements, a tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels with stickier tires.

It all started back in 1980, when Subaru entered the first all-wheel drive rally car in the World Rally Championship with the Subaru Leone. STI’s first car was created with guidance from founder and president Ryuichiro Kuze, and it was none other than the Subaru Legacy RS RA.

The first Subaru STI model featured modified suspension, brakes and a 220hp turbocharged boxer engine, a recipe that was destined to become world famous in the years to come. In January 1989, a specially prepared Legacy Turbo broke the FIA World Speed Endurance Record for 100,000km (62k miles), by driving at an average speed of 138 mph over the course of 20 days. The Legacy RS RA also became the first Subaru to win in WRC, at the 1993 New Zealand Rally.

STI went on and won the manufacturer titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997, making Subaru the first Japanese company to win the WRC manufacturers’ championship for three consecutive years. The achievement was coupled with the driver’s titles in 1995 (Colin McRae), 2001 (Richard Burns) and 2003 (Peter Solberg).

Perhaps the most famous STI road car of all is the 1998 Impreza 22B STI, which was built for Japan only. Subaru made just 400 22Bs, all of them finished in Sonic Blue Mica with gold BBS forged alloys. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.2-liter flat-four engine with a conservative rating of 280hp.

In 2004, Subaru introduced the WRX STI in America, featuring a 300hp engine paired to a six-speed manual transmission and the company’s DCCD all-wheel drive system.

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  • Shame that STI future is sort of bleak with only WRX STI, I wonder why they never expand and offer Levorg STI.


    I love the STI but I do find it a bit troubling that the performance of the current model is nearly identical to the 2004 Impreza WRX STI. I mean, that’s a bit strange for two models nearly 14 years apart.

    • Shobin Drogan

      Because they have been using the same ej engine for that long. The next iteration is expected to have an all new drivetrain though.

  • Vassilis

    Legendary cars. The 22B is a unicorn.

  • Blue Gum

    Subaru STI is dead, Subaru don’t give a hoot about performance any more and they haven’t for over 10 years.