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Model Comparison Guide: Subaru WRX vs WRX STI

subaru wrx vs sti


Life is fun and exciting when you’re young. You’re learning who you are, developing new interests, and doing things that you love. As a young professional, choosing the right type of car can complement your lifestyle and bring you many happy memories on the road. We’re not one to brag, but having a Subaru as your first car sets you up for success. Between the Subaru WRX and WRX STI, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two; this helps you make a well-informed decision with no regrets.

For all WRX enthusiasts, we know just how spunky and sporty the WRX models can be, and the more you know, the better. Here at Subaru, we’re well-known and trusted automotive experts that have been in the car manufacturing industry for decades. Safety and confidence in motion is what we stand for—to provide you with a memorable driving experience.

Performance Comparison: Engine and Powertrain

The Subaru WRX and WRX STI are both performance-oriented models known for their sporty driving characteristics. The beating heart of the Subaru WRX is powered by a turbocharged flat-four BOXER engine. The new WRX has a power figure rated at 202 kW and a serious kick with 350 Nm. If you think that’s impressive, the outgoing model WRX STI with its 2.5-litre turbocharged BOXER engine has 221 kW and 407 Nm from as early as 4,000 r/min, which is impressive considering its a generation older than the latest Subaru WRX.

We can see that the WRX STI generally offers more power and slightly quicker acceleration compared to the standard WRX. This is due to its higher-performance engine and more advanced performance features, such as a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and sport-tuned suspension. Both the WRX and WRX STI come with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, which enhances traction and stability in various driving conditions. However, the WRX STI often features a more advanced AWD system designed for optimal performance and handling.

Handling and drivetrain comparison

You might think that both the WRX and WRX STI models share the same all-wheel-drive systems; unfortunately, this is not the case. The WRX typically features Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, which is known for its balance and stability. It’s optimised for everyday driving and offers good all-weather traction and stability. While the WRX STI also features the clever SAWD system, the Vehicle Dynamics Control is the best option to remain on the road and in full control.

The WRX typically comes with a sport-tuned suspension that provides a good balance between ride comfort and performance, whereas the WRX STI features a more performance-oriented suspension setup with sport-tuned springs, dampers, and stabiliser bars. The WRX STI also has more advanced stability and traction control systems designed for spirited driving.

Design and Exterior Features

The Subaru WRX and WRX STI each have their own unique design elements and exterior features that set them apart. The WRX offers a sporty and aggressive appearance, featuring traditional design elements with modern contemporary additions such as a hexagonal grille, bonnet scoop, and wider stance. One of the most iconic design elements of the WRX STI is its large, rally-inspired rear wing. The wing not only enhances aerodynamics but also gives the STI a distinctive and aggressive appearance.

You can count on the WRX STI to take it a step further with additional performance-oriented cues and distinctive racing-inspired styling, making it instantly recognisable to enthusiasts and fans of high-performance Subaru models. When you buy a WRX, you’re getting the best of both sportiness and adventure in a dynamic sedan.

Interior and comfort features

The cabin layouts and interior designs of the Subaru WRX and WRX STI share some similarities due to their common platform but also have distinct features to match their different performance levels. Also, this is dependent on which generation of the WRX you are shopping for. The WRX is geared towards a balance between sportiness and daily usability, while the WRX STI leans more towards high-performance driving, offering sportier seats and STI-specific accents. Comfort features and technology are available in both models, but the WRX STI may offer additional performance-related features and displays.

Depending on the trim level, the WRX may offer comfort features such as heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an upgraded infotainment system with a touchscreen interface. The WRX STI tends to prioritise performance over luxury, so while it may offer features like heated front seats and a premium sound system, its focus is on the driving experience. Expect to find racing-inspired seating in the WRX STI and leather-trimmed seats in the WRX.

Technology and Infotainment

In the sporty and dynamic WRX, you can find the iconic Subaru Infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, while the newer WRX generation has a considerably larger screen size. It also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with seamless smartphone integration. Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming is standard, as well as useful USB ports for device connectivity and charging. The WRX has incredible driver-assistance features, such as Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes additional safety features such as adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking.

Like the WRX, the WRX STI offers Bluetooth, USB ports, and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the WRX STI may have some safety technologies like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, it often does not include Subaru’s EyeSight suite as standard.

Price and value comparison

The Subaru WRX typically has a lower starting price compared to the WRX STI when you are looking at the previous generation of models. The WRX is positioned as a more affordable performance option within the Subaru lineup. The WRX STI, being the higher-performance variant, comes with a higher starting price due to its more powerful engine, advanced drivetrain components, and performance-oriented features.

Well-suited for those who prioritise practicality, the WRX offers comfortable daily driving and a range of standard features, such as a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration. Essentially, the WRX is designed for enthusiasts who want a balance between performance and daily usability. With great power comes great performance. In its true form, the WRX STI is made for performance enthusiasts who seek the ultimate driving experience. If rally racing and sporty gear shifts get you excited, you’ll value the rally-inspired WRX STI.

The cost of ownership for both the WRX and WRX STI includes factors such as fuel expenses, maintenance, insurance, and potential repairs. Maintenance costs may also be lower for the WRX, as it generally features a more standard and straightforward drivetrain compared to the higher-performance components of the WRX STI.

Driving Experience and Enthusiast Appeal

Both the WRX and WRX STI models offer unique driving experiences that cater to automotive enthusiasts and performance-driven drivers. The Subaru WRX offers a dynamic and engaging driving experience, making it an appealing choice for automotive enthusiasts who want a spirited yet practical ride.

The Subaru WRX STI takes the driving experience to a higher level of performance and precision, making it a prime choice for enthusiasts seeking a track-ready machine. Enthusiasts appreciate the all-wheel drive systems in both models, which provide stability and control, whether on twisty roads, in inclement weather, or during spirited driving sessions.

Choosing between the WRX and WRX STI is not an easy decision to make. Do you choose the WRX STI, which offers higher performance with a more powerful engine, an advanced all-wheel drive system (DCCD), and a sport-tuned suspension, or do you opt for the WRX, which provides a balanced performance suitable for daily driving? The choice is yours. Depending on your budget, the WRX has a lower starting price compared to the WRX STI, making it a more budget-friendly option.

We encourage you to consult Subaru as an expert advisor for personalised guidance. Subaru dealerships have knowledgeable staff who can provide insights, answer questions, and assist you in selecting the ideal model that suits your preferences and needs. Consider scheduling a test drive to get a firsthand feel for the driving dynamics, interior comfort, and performance capabilities of both the WRX and WRX STI.

Visit your local Subaru dealership to explore the WRX and WRX STI models, or visit Subaru’s official website for more information and to schedule your test drive today.


What are the key differences between the Subaru WRX and WRX STI?

The WRX STI offers higher performance with a more powerful engine, advanced all-wheel drive, and sport-tuned components, while the WRX provides a balanced performance for daily driving.

Which model offers better performance: the WRX or the WRX STI?

Thanks to the mighty powerful engine and AWD system, the WRX STI is designed for enthusiasts seeking track-ready performance, while the WRX provides a balanced performance suitable for daily driving.

Are there any significant interior differences between the WRX and WRX STI?

The WRX features cloth or leather-trimmed seats with sporty bolstering, and the sporty WRX STI features rally-inspired seating, gearing it towards a more performance-oriented driving experience.

How do the pricing and cost of ownership compare between the two models?

In terms of pricing, the WRX has a lower starting price compared to the WRX STI, which has a higher starting price due to its more powerful engine. The cost of ownership is no different. The WRX generally has lower ownership costs compared to the WRX STI due to its lower starting price, more efficient engine options, and potentially lower insurance premiums.

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