There are some cars that are just meant to be driven fast. The steering, the suspension and the ride and handling quite simply get better the faster you go.
The Subaru WRX STi RA is one of those vehicles.
My first stint behind the wheel was on the Road America Race Track during a Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally, and the very first acceleration out of the pit made my stomach flip.
The fast pace on the straightaway had me giggle out loud and glad for the fact that I didn’t have a passenger in the car.
The smooth pavement, blind corners with elevation changes and the wide sweeping carousel bowed to this vehicle, and the WRX STi RA could have tackled all these things at a much faster clip than the pace I set.
However, with a high clutch point and stiff steering, the trek back to the parking lot after my single lap on the track was much less enjoyable.
When I managed to snag this vehicle for a second stint behind the wheel in a weeklong test, much of it was kind of like that drive back to the parking lot.
I lived for the highway jaunts, but most of my time was spent on rough-hewn city streets.
It took me a while to get used to the clutch point and wide turning radius, especially when reversing into my garage. But after I learned this specific vehicle’s quirks, even the urban treks to the grocery got more enjoyable.
But I still don’t know that I’d want this for my every-day driver.
High points for this vehicle are not only the 2.5-liter 310-horsepower turbocharged Boxer engine and standard all-wheel drive but also the sporty Recaro racing seats that embrace you as soon as you sit down. Plus, the entire cockpit is geared for the driver, which puts everything within easy reach.
The interior gauges and controls were kind of old school, but on this vehicle it didn’t bother me one bit. It had a manual transmission as well as a volume and tuning knob for the audio.
Who needs anything else in a vehicle like this?
The Recaro seats were swathed in suede, all the better to keep you in your seat on aggressive corners, and the side bolsters were puffy without getting in the way.
I loved the red leather accents on the seats and the red reverse stitching on the center stack and steering wheel.
However, I could do without the suede covering on the steering wheel, and unfortunately, this is not an option. For me, it was a texture issue, and it made me cringe every time my hands touched the wheel. I’m cringing now just thinking about it.
The exterior of the WRX STi RA test vehicle made it obvious that this vehicle was something special with the large hood scoop, gold-tinged wheel covers, quad exhaust and functional spoiler wing.
Produced by Subaru Tecnica International (STI) as a limited edition – only 500 vehicles were available in the 2018 model year – this specific WRX is also distinguished by a carbon fiber roof panel, Bilstein STI sport-tuned suspension, Brembo performance brakes and cherry red exterior accents.
The WRX STi RA was priced at $49,855 including destination.
The Bottom Line:
The RA version of the WRX STi looks H-O-T. From the gold wheels all the way to the suede-covered steering wheel, it is an eye catcher. However, it’s not very practical for an every-day commute – especially if you live in a northern state with pockmarked streets and lots of stop-and-go traffic.
This car is made for open roads and tight corners, driving better at faster speeds.
And while you’ll get a lot of cred from racers, this might not be the best vehicle for a one-car family.