For the better part of two decades, those of us in the U.S. have looked longingly across the oceans as Subaru released a slew of special edition Imprezas in Japan and the UK.
When the WRX finally made the trek to the States in 2002, followed by the STI two years later, our thirst for rally-bred performance was satisfied – to a point.
While the WRX and STI (and by extension, the Mitsubishi Evolution) kept our turbocharged, all-wheel-drive lust at bay, a never-ending string of factory-fettled variants continued to come out of Fuji Heavy Industries. Names like Spec C, Type RA, Type RAR, S202, S203, S204, WR1, Spec D and RB320 all begged the question: Why not here?
Well, ask and ye shall receive. After countless caffeine-fueled late nights at Subaru of America HQ, we’ve finally got a hyped-up STI of our own. And it’s not only better than the standard model, it’s less expensive to boot.
Only the most irritatingly obsessive Subie aficionados could spot the Subaru WRX STI Special Edition from afar, as the sole exterior differences are its dark gray 18×8.5-inch, 14-spoke wheels pulled from the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Spec C and Aspen White exterior (more colors to be available once the initial 125 units sell out). Get a little closer and you’ll notice the standard HID headlamps have been swapped in favor of conventional halogen units, and if you pull out your micrometer, you’ll find the Special Edition sits one mm lower than its standard counterpart.
That minimal ride height reduction comes courtesy of the JDM Spec C suspension, which has been swapped in unchanged from its Japanese cousin and features 16-percent stiffer front springs and 29-percent stiffer rear coils compared to the stock STI.
While the Germans would doubtlessly have you paying out your orifices for a de-contented, yet slightly grippier setup, Subaru has taken a different tack. The standard STI comes in at $34,995, while the Special Edition stickers for $32,995 (plus $695 for D&D). That’s still a bit pricey considering what’s included (and what’s omitted), but the real dividends should pay off on the track.