JDM - General

Modified Subaru WRX STi – Why They Are So Great

Most JDM cars are known for being great candidates for modification and tuning, and the Subaru WRX STi is no exception. It may just be one of the, if not the most modified Japanese-branded cars out there.

Up until the 1990s Subaru had for the better part of four decades just manufactured slow and commuter-friendly sedans, wagons, and the occasional Kei car and truck. But in 1994 Subaru took a huge step in a completely different direction. This time, Subaru had only one thing in mind – Performance. A choice that in the upcoming years would win them several World Rally Championships. A choice that would give us the 1994 Subaru WRX STi.

The Subaru WRX STi shook car enthusiasts all over the world. Who would’ve thought a brand which manufactured family cars could produce an AWD Sedan/Wagon/Coupé that could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, on any surface nonetheless. The Subaru WRX STi was raw and uncaged, yet, still contained some of Subaru’s key characteristics such as an impressive safety rating. 

The Subaru WRX STi was an immediate success. People flocked to this new JDM family saloon. Subaru had created a performance vehicle that was fully capable on all surfaces. Something no Japanese manufacturer or other international brands for that part had ever done on a mass-scale this large. Subaru, a brand that once sold family saloons and wagons, would turn into a brand that would dominate the rally scene for the better part of half a decade – all thanks to the Subaru WRX STi.

The WRX STi also helped Subaru establish itself as one of the greatest manufacturers of AWD vehicles. Just like the way Audi’s Quattro AWD system got its fame from the Audi Group-B rally cars.

Within the JDM community, the WRX STi can be seen as a very versatile car. People rally them, modify them for time-attack, stancing, drag racing, and even drifting (We love you Japan)

Why Modify the Subaru WRX STi?

Some would argue that, if the Subaru WRX STi was so great, why modify it in the first place? Well, with many things people always tend to seek more. Whether it be money, fame, knowledge, or in this case, performance. One would say, wouldn’t that go for any car then? Sure, but the Subaru WRX STi was a great choice for several reasons.

1.      Cheap – WRX STi Prices

Compared to most JDM cars, the Subaru WRX STi is surprisingly cheap given the performance and tunability it offers. And that means you can spend more on modifications and transform the car just the way you’d like it.

The first, second, and third generation WRX STi all kind of line up at the same price points.

The first generation (1992-2000) is perhaps the most sought after and an early model-year car in pristine condition can actually become quite expensive as they are becoming collector cars. The cheapest cars (if lucky) can be found for around $5,000 with an average sale price of about $20,000. Although there was a special model known as the 22B which was a very limited production car, these can fetch upwards of $300,000.

The second generation (2000-2007) was also known as the “blobeye” for the 2004 model and “hawkeye” for the 2006-model due to their initial front-end styling. These cars offer great value for money as they are not yet considered a classic or collectible. However, prices have steadily risen for the past five years. Still, you should be able to find a second generation in good condition for about $15,000.

The third generation (2007-2014) is another great choice if you’re looking for a more modern vehicle with more comfort features than its predecessors. These can still be had for a great price, although the price varies quite a bit depending if you’re comparing a 2007 car to a 2014 car. You can expect to pay about $15,000-$20,000 for an earlier model-year car and about $25,000-$30,000 for a later model-year.

As you can see, prices between the generations are quite similar, it is really just up to you and your preferences, they are all unique in their own way, and are all great candidates for modification.

2.      Great Performance Out the Gate

People didn’t just buy the WRX STi only because Subaru managed to win a few WRC medals, they bought it because it was a great performing car straight out of the factory floor. It came with a notoriously advanced and capable all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, a powerful engine, and great safety features, and at the same time being able to both act as a track-car and comfortable daily driver. It was an all-around performance car that can be had for a very reasonable price.

Because the WRX STi had all of these great features directly from the factory it meant that it is very easy to modify it further without having to worry about underdoing or overdoing something in particular.

3.      Abundance of Aftermarket Parts

Because the WRX STi was internationally sold it meant that tuning shops and aftermarket companies were not only restricted to Japan, but the whole of Europe, UK, America, and Africa too for that part. Because there are so many different aftermarket shops that sell WRX STi parts prices are kept reasonable. If there are only a few sellers it means they have more control over the price and can hike it a lot more, meaning more expensive parts.

In terms of variety, there is something for everyone. There are parts for stancing, racing, rallying, drag-racing, and even parts to convert the WRX STi into a mean drift-machine.

4.      Great Tuning Capabilities

There are a ton of different tuning shops out there to provide you with safe and smooth performance for your Subaru WRX STi. Tuning is one of the cheapest ways to improve the performance of a car, and even a complete stock car could very easily fetch another 50 hp without worrying about ruining anything.

However, once you start to upgrade the radiator, exhaust, air intake, and fuel system you can really start to make some good power. And once you upgrade the turbos, gearbox, and clutch you could possibly have yourself a supercar-killer if done right!

3 Awesomely Modified Subaru WRX STi’s

556-HP WRX STi Hatchback

This car means business, and it is a great example of just how versatile the WRX STi is in terms of modifications. I mean, who would’ve thought to add a side-exit exhaust, a widebody kit, and a spoiler that’s bigger than your average man to a Hatchback nonetheless.

The engine has been built with 5 1,000cc injectors, forged piston, and rods, ACL bearings, an aftermarket ECU, as well as a pair of SC-46 turbos. This in turn makes the 2.5L boxer engine output about 560 HP.

It would be really interesting to see what type of numbers this car would put down on a track.

Time-Attack Subaru WRX STi

This insanely modified WRX STi puts out about 800 HP and must have one of the most extreme aero modifications done to a WRX STi.

The aero itself serves a very important mission, it is there to keep the fire-breathing STi stable and help provide grip and cornering speed. In other words, this car is ridiculously fast. It holds the fifth fastest lap time ever recorded at the Buttonwillow Configuration 13 track, even besting a Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

Potentially the fastest Subaru WRX STi on a track in the world.

862 HP Gymkhana WRX STi

As Ken Block parted ways with Ford, Subaru was given the opportunity to enter the stages of Gymkhana on the condition that they could produce an insanely fast and agile car within a year. The engineers tasked to build this car were told there were no rules, just create something ridiculously fast and durable, and so they did.

The car is based on a newer generation 2020 WRX STi and has been extensively chopped and drilled with several holes for weight reduction. This car features a flat underbody, a full roll cage, and the most intricate, drift-ready active aerodynamic package rallycross experts have ever concocted in the wind tunnel. The engine blends the sturdy low-stroke crankshaft of the Subaru rallycross car with the larger 2.5-liter block to end up as a 2.3-liter, while the body is primarily built of Kevlar and prepreg carbon fiber. The hood exhaust if just the cherry on top.

E. Lindgren

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