Up till 2007, the Impreza STI was commonly known as the Impreza WRX STi when it was officially renamed as the Impreza STI. It is regarded as the top of the line standard-edition trim level in the entire Subaru Impreza Compact car range.
Back in 1980s, Subaru laid the basis for the Subaru Tecnica International (STI) division with a view to speed up their motorsport activities as well as to design a vehicle for the FIA World Rally Championship. Over the years, the division became a major part of Subaru and began producing high-end passenger vehicles out of Impreza WRX platform. One such design led to the development of the high performance Subaru Impreza WRX STi which was equipped with a turbocharged boxer engine running a 4-wheel drive system.
The vehicle was primarily designed for the Japanese market. However, in later years, the vehicle was officially introduced in Oceania. In Australia, it was introduced in 1999 as STi Version V. The STi arrived in the European market with a slight modification in its chassis in 2001. The North American market received the STI in 2003.
As WRX STi was not initially offered in export market, it was available in Oceania and Europe through grey-market import before being officially announced there.
In New Zealand, Subaru fans received five units of the WRX STI S204 version. Compared to other S204s produced, these five units didn’t bear any individual badging that was obvious in other 600 units of S204s. This raised an ambiguity whether how many S204s were produced in total.
The WRX STi S204s were also sold in Singapore through the Motor Image Enterprise. Only thirty units were sold here.
First Generation (1992 – 2000)
The first generation STi were sold in six different versions. The different versions were normally determined by the successive numerals used with their names. The second method to determine the STi version was through the chassis code. For instance, the sedan STi models were referred as GC8, coupe versions were designated as GM8 and the station wagon STis were referred to as GF8. All of them were followed by an alphabetical letter, i.e. from A to G. In the US market, a GC chassis version of the RS was also introduced in 2001.
Second Generation (2000- 2008)
The second generation Impreza WRX STI was launched in 2000 and was a completely redesigned version. The chassis had been strengthened by increasing the torsional rigidness. Compared to the 16″ x 7″ wheels on the previous generation, this generation model received 17″ x 7.5″ alloy wheels. Also, the previous 5-speed manual transmission was replaced with an STI engineered 6-speed manual transmission. The second generation Impreza WRX STi received an engine from the Version 6 STi along with similar old semi-closed deck block. The engine designation also remained the same, i.e. EJ207. The turbochargers are taken from IHI. As for interior, the STi logo was introduced on the gauge. A red shift light was also incorporated on STi’s tachometer. Both optioned Type RA STi and the regular STi came with Brembo 4 piston front and 2 piston rear brakes. However, the bare-bones Type RA STi received Subaru 4 piston front and 2 piston rear brakes as yet. On the exterior, it featured larger4 hood scoops and fog-light covers that had STi adorned on them. The Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) was also upgraded so as to make it in agreement with the anti-lock brakes. When the ABS is turned on, the DCCD would automatically set itself to open- state.
It order to avoid the confusion of determining different versions, many owners devised nicknames based on year and make. For instance, the models from 2001 to 2003 are referred to as bug eyes; the models between 2004 and 2005 are called the blob eyes, tear drop or peanut eyes; while the models from 2006 to 2007 are nicknamed as hawk eyes.
Third Generation (2008-present)
The third generation Subaru Impreza WRX STI was introduced in 2008. It is offered with a range of new features and enhancements. Some of the major features are: Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (MVDC) offered with ‘Normal’, ‘Traction’, and ‘Off’ modes; Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) is available with three modes: ‘Intelligent’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Sharp (S#); and Multi-mode Driver’s Controlled Center Differential (also known as DCCD).
The Japanese version comes with a 2.0-L EJ207 engine also featuring a twin scroll turbocharger rated at 304 bhp (227 kW; 308 PS). However, the STi versions sold in other markets have a 2.5-L EJ257 engine equipped with a single-scroll VF48 turbocharger rated at 296 bhp (221 kW; 300 PS).
The STI version sold in US market receives an engine with 305 bhp (227 kW; 309 PS) and torque of 290 lb-ft (390 Nm).