NAIAS 2019: The Subaru STI S209 Is The Japanese Muscle Car We’ve Been Waiting For

The new Supra isn’t the only Japanese car blowing up Instagram feeds in Detroit. Not to be outdone, Subaru decided to throw the hammer down by debuting the S209, which is the most powerful STI they’ve ever built.

For those who don’t know, STI (Subaru’s tuning division) occasionally builds variants in what they call an “S-line”. S-line variants are usually more powerful and more performance-minded than their standard counter parts. The bad news is typically S-line cars are only sold in Japan. The S209 is the first S-line car built by STI that will be sold in America so yay for progress.

The STI S209 takes much of its inspiration from the race car that STI built for the Nürburgring Challenge which won its class at the 24 hours of Nürburgring in 2018.

As you probably noticed, STI started by widening the stance of a base WRX STI by an additional 1.7 inches and covering the forged BBS wheels with wider fenders. By the way those wheels are wrapped with Dunlop “SP Sport Maxx” GT600A tires which were developed exclusively for the S209.

The fenders are equipped with strategically placed vents to provide cooling to the monoblock Brembo brakes as well as some drag reduction.

To enhance handling and footwork STI equipped the S209 with bespoke Bilstein dampers, stiffer coil springs, a 20mm rear stabilizer bar, and pillow-type bushings for the front and rear lateral links.

The front crossmember and rear subframes have also been reinforced for extra rigidity. All of that will definitely make steering feel more crisp but will also likely make the ride on normal roads feel way rougher. Though many would agree that is a small price to pay. Besides, we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet…

I did mention at the start that the S209 is the most powerful STI ever built. In fact, under the hood is a “reworked version” of the EJ25 2.5 liter turbo’d boxer engine was produced for the S209 and features a turbocharger sourced from HKS. STI turned the boost pressure up to 18 psi, bringing the total power output to 341 horsepower.

To handle the pressure the S209 is equipped with forged pistons and connecting rods and all of it is fed with a high-output fuel pump and high flow injectors.

The S209 also gets its own unique six-speed close ratio gearbox routed to Subaru’s full-time symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Obviously the S209 retains the driver controlled center differential (DCCD) system and all the driving modes that come with the current STI.

There are a few other tweaks as well like a higher flow muffler and water sprayer for the intercooler.

Inside the S209 is a plethora of STI branding and the obligatory limited edition number badge on the center console.

Unfortunately when STI says this car is “limited” they really mean it. Only 200 examples will be released in late 2019, instantly securing a top spot on my Christmas list. Although they haven’t announced a price. Safe to say it won’t be cheap.

Take a look at the STI S209 by clicking on the thumbnails above and below. Also make sure to scan through the press release below for more information.

After that, let us know what you think of the STI S209 in the comments below or tweet to us at @MotorworldHype.

STI S209 Gallery:

Press Release:

  • Debuts at 2019 North American International Auto Show
  • First-ever STI-crafted S-line performance vehicle sold in the United States
  • Limited production run of around 200 units
  • Available exclusively in the U.S.
  • 341-horsepower (est.) 2.5-liter SUBARU BOXER engine
  • Aggressive new look with wide fenders, front canards and rear wing
  • Performance-focused chassis with flexible strut tower bar and draw stiffeners
  • Exclusive 19 x 9-inch forged BBS® wheels with bespoke Dunlop® SP Sport Maxx® GT600A tires
  • Brembo® brakes with new high-friction pads
  • Available in two exterior colors: World Rally Blue Pearl and Crystal White Pearl
Subaru Tecnica International (STI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Subaru Corporation, today introduced the limited-edition STI S209, the first-ever S-line STI product produced exclusively for the U.S. market. As an S-line product, the STI S209 encompasses upgrades in power, handling, aerodynamics and driver engagement, and undergoes final assembly in Kiryu, Japan, where it receives engine modifications and bodywork alterations that in total require it to be homologated for the U.S. by STI; thus, the S209 is considered the first “STI-built” Subaru sold in the U.S. The S209 carries on a high-performance tradition that dates to STI-built models that were exclusive to the Japanese domestic market – the 2000 S201 through the 2018 S208.

Designed with a focus on high-performance driving, the S209 draws inspiration and tech transfer from STI’s most formidable track machine: the WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge racecar, which won the SP3T class at the 2018 24 Hours of Nürburgring, marking the fifth time STI dominated the SP3T class at the grueling endurance race. The S209, like the Nürburgring Challenge racecar, wears an expanded wide-body exterior treatment, which extends the vehicle’s overall width to 72.4 inches, or 1.7 inches wider than a standard WRX STI. The bulging fenders accommodate wider front/rear tracks (+ 0.6 in front/rear) and 265/35 Dunlop® SP Sport Maxx® GT600A summer-only tires wrapped around lightweight 19 x 9-inch forged BBS alloy wheels. The all-new tires, developed exclusively for the S209 by Dunlop, are a significant contributor to the car’s tenacious maximum lateral grip of over 1.0 g. Vents on the front fenders provide additional engine cooling, while vents on the rear fenders rectify air turbulence to reduce drag. Brembo brakes, with cross-drilled steel rotors and 6-piston monoblock front calipers and 2-piston monoblock rear calipers, provide stout stopping force, thanks in part to upgraded high-friction pads that deliver improved fade-resistance.

Underneath the S209’s broader body are specially developed Bilstein® dampers, stiffened coil springs, a 20mm rear stabilizer bar and pillow-type bushings for the front/rear lateral links. The S209 incorporates reinforcements to the front crossmember and rear subframes and, a la the Nürburgring racecar, a flexible front-strut tower bar and flexible front/rear draw stiffeners. The flexible tower bar, unlike a conventional rigid bar, is split and joined with a pillow ball joint in the center to be longitudinally mobile while helping laterally stiffen the body of the car. The result is optimum tire grip during lateral moments combined with compliant ride during longitudinal moments. Meanwhile, the draw stiffeners apply tension between the body and cross member to optimize chassis flex, improving stability when cornering and delivering better ride, handling and steering response. Other Nürburgring racecar tech that trickles down to the S209: front, rear and side under spoilers; front bumper canards; and carbon-fiber roof panel and rear wing.

A thoroughly reworked version of the legendary EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged BOXER engine propels the S209. Featuring an STI turbocharger manufactured by HKS®, the EJ25 serves up an estimated 341 horsepower, thanks in part to a larger turbine and compressor (up 6 and 8 percent, respectively, compared to WRX STI) as well as maximum boost pressure that has been increased to 18.0 psi (16.2 psi for WRX STI). Proudly displaying an S209 serial number plate, the enhanced BOXER engine utilizes forged pistons and connecting rods that are both lighter and stronger. Midrange torque, too, gets a notable bump, up 10 percent at 3,600 rpm, delivering higher corner exit speeds when driving on track.

For ultimate driver engagement, the S209 comes exclusively with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission that routes power to a full-time Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with front/rear limited-slip differentials, a Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), Active Torque Vectoring and Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control. A recalibrated SI-Drive system offers three modes: Intelligent (I) for improved fuel economy and smoother power control; Sport (S) for optimized power balance between response and control; and Sport Sharp (S#) for achieving the best acceleration times. STI engineers recommend Sport over Sport Sharp for circuit driving, as the less aggressive throttle map allows for greater driver control.

To feed more air to the EJ25, the S209 uses a high-flow intake system featuring a new intake duct, induction box with conical air filter, silicone turbo inlet duct and, a nod from the 2004-07 WRX STI, an intercooler water spray system that lowers intercooler temperature via manually operated steering-wheel paddles. More air demands more fuel, so the S209 receives a new high-flow fuel pump, larger fuel injectors and an STI-tuned engine control module. High-performance mufflers deliver 17-percent less airflow resistance while larger hand-polished stainless-steel exhaust tips – 101mm in diameter – deliver aggressive appearance and acoustics.

The S209 receives multiple tweaks to elevate it from other STI sedans. An STI badge replaces the traditional Subaru star cluster on the center of the D-shape steering wheel, which is wrapped in Ultrasuede® with silver stitching, a treatment that carries over to the lid of the center console storage box. An S209 serial number badge resides on the center console, and S209 badges adorn the passenger-side dash and the headrests of the Recaro® front bucket seats, which feature new silver-hued inserts. Outside, special S209 badges are affixed to the front grille and fenders as well as the rear decklid.

Only around 200 units of the STI S209 will be built, earmarked exclusively for the U.S. Available exterior color/BBS wheel combinations will be WR Blue Pearl/gray wheels and Crystal White Pearl/gold wheels. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date in late 2019.


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