What’s the Difference Between Subaru WRX and WRX STI?

If you’re in the market for a high-performance sports sedan, the Subaru WRX and WRX STI are two models that will catch your attention. These two vehicles share many similarities, including their all-wheel-drive systems and turbocharged engines, but they also have some essential differences that set them apart. 

Subaru WRX
Image Editorial credit: Brandon Woyshnis / Shutterstock.com

In this article, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between the Subaru WRX and WRX STI, taking a closer look at their design, performance, features, and more. 

Whether you’re a die-hard Subaru fan or simply looking for a high-performance sports sedan, this article will provide valuable insights into the differences and similarities between the WRX and WRX STI. So buckle up and get ready to explore two of the most exciting vehicles today!

Subaru WRX History and Overview

The Subaru WRX, short for World Rally eXperimental, is a high-performance sedan that has been turning heads since its introduction in 1992. Born from Subaru’s success in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the WRX quickly gained popularity among car enthusiasts due to its impressive performance, all-wheel drive system, and distinctive design.

The inaugural Impreza WRX, modeled after race cars, boasted a turbocharged motor that could generate up to 240 hp. Over time, this model evolved into various iterations, such as the WRX Premium and Limited trims

With features like a sport-tuned suspension and advanced safety technology, it is an attractive option for those seeking exhilarating driving experiences on roadways and racetracks.

Subaru WRX STI Overview

The Subaru WRX STI, short for Subaru Tecnica International, is the high-performance variant of the standard WRX. First introduced in 1994, it has become a favorite among performance enthusiasts and rally drivers. 

The STI models are known for their aggressive styling, powerful engines, and advanced handling capabilities. The Subaru WRX STI is a muscular vehicle that provides driving aficionados with performance-oriented components. 


The Subaru WRX and WRX STI share many similarities as they are both performance-oriented vehicles manufactured by Subaru. Here are four similarities between the two models:

  1. AWD System

The Subaru WRX and WRX STI feature a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, providing excellent grip and handling on different terrains.

  1. Turbocharged Engine

Both models are equipped with a turbocharged engine, with the WRX having a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the WRX STI having a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

  1. Transmission

Both models have a standard six-speed manual transmission, enhancing the driver’s engagement and control.

  1. Design

The exterior design of both the Subaru WRX and WRX STI features similar styling cues, including the iconic hood scoop, wide fenders, and aggressive front grille. Both models have a similar interior design, focusing on driver-focused controls and performance-oriented features.

Difference Between the Subaru WRX and Subaru WRX STI
Image Editorial credit: WildSnap / Shutterstock.com


The main differences between the Subaru WRX and WRX STI lie in the factors listed below:

  1. Engine and Transmission

The standard WRX models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 268 horsepower. In contrast, the more powerful STI models, developed by Subaru Tecnica International (STI), boast a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 310 horsepower.

  1. Performance

Apart from having different engines under their hoods providing varying power outputs, another significant difference is that the base WRX has an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). In contrast, all STIs have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard for an excellent performance car driving experience.

  1. Trim Levels 

Below are the trim level comparisons between the STI and WRX models: 

Subaru WRX:

This entry-level trim has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and standard features such as 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and a 6.5-inch infotainment system.

This trim adds a power moonroof, heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, and a more extensive 7-inch infotainment system. This top-of-the-line trim adds leather-trimmed upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, LED headlights, and an 8-inch infotainment system.

Subaru WRX STI:

This entry-level trim has a more powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and standard features such as Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, and Recaro front seats.

This trim adds leather-trimmed upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, LED headlights, and a more extensive 7-inch infotainment system.

  1. Front, back, and Side profiles

Front, back, and side profiles make or break a car’s aesthetic appeal. Therefore, the differences mentioned below will help you make an informed decision. 

Front and Back Profile:

WRX’s front bumper has a sporty appearance, a large air intake, and a lower lip spoiler. On the other hand, STI’s front bumper has a more aggressive appearance with more oversized air intakes, a lower lip spoiler, and front canards for improved aerodynamics.

The WRX has a sporty appearance at the back with a trunk-mounted spoiler and twin dual exhausts. In addition, the WRX STI has a larger and more prominent rear wing spoiler, an iconic feature of the STI model. 

As for the back profiles, the WRX has a sporty appearance at the back with a trunk-mounted spoiler and twin dual exhausts. In addition, The WRX STI also has quad exhausts, which add to its aggressive look.

Side Profile:

Both models have similar side profiles, with a sedan body style and flared wheel arches that house the large wheels and tires. However, the WRX STI has a slightly wider body and a more aggressive stance due to its wider track and larger wheels.

  1. Interior space and comfort

Due to their performance-focused design, the Subaru WRX and WRX STI differ regarding interior space and comfort. Here are some differences between the two models:

The WRX has a spacious interior with comfortable front and rear seats, providing ample legroom and headroom for passengers. The WRX STI has a slightly tighter interior due to its performance-focused design. 

The WRX has a comfortable and well-equipped interior with features such as cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, and a 6.5-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

  1. Safety Features 

Both vehicles offer similar safety features like Eyesight Driver Assist Technology, but higher trims, like the WRX Limited Trim, have additional safety features.

  1. Driving Experience

The WRX is designed to provide a fun and sporty driving experience while still being comfortable for everyday use. Its well-balanced chassis, responsive steering, and comfortable ride make it an excellent choice for those who want a car that can handle twisty roads and daily commutes equally well. 

The WRX STI, on the other hand, is designed for more extreme driving conditions, focusing on performance and handling. Its stiffer suspension, larger brakes, and advanced all-wheel-drive system provide precise handling and control during high-speed cornering and off-road driving. 

  1. Reliability

In terms of reliability, the Subaru WRX and WRX STI are generally considered to be solid performers. Both models come with Subaru’s proven all-wheel-drive system, which provides excellent traction and stability in all weather conditions. 

However, the WRX STI has more performance-oriented features, which may require more maintenance over time. Some WRX STI owners have reported issues with the car’s transmission, particularly the six-speed manual gearbox. 

However, both the WRX and WRX STI are well-regarded for their reliability. As with any vehicle, regular maintenance and care are vital to ensuring long-term reliability.

  1. Price

The Subaru WRX is generally less expensive than the WRX STI, with a starting price that is several thousand dollars lower. As of 2023, the starting price for a new Subaru WRX is around $28,000, while the starting price for a WRX STI is around $40,000.

Which one should you pick?

Consider your driving preferences and budget if you decide between the Subaru WRX and the WRX STI. The Subaru WRX is an excellent choice for those prioritizing fuel efficiency, daily drivability, and a lower price point. It is a turbocharged engine, and sporty handling offers plenty of excitement for most drivers.

For those seeking a higher level of performance, the WRX STI, with its upgraded engine and advanced suspension system, provides an exciting option at an increased cost. Its upgraded engine delivers more power, while its advanced suspension system provides superior handling capabilities. The STI also has features like Brembo brakes for improved stopping power.

Test drive both models at a local Subaru dealership. Before deciding, this will give you firsthand experience of each car’s unique characteristics.


In summary, the WRX STI stands out from its sibling with enhanced features such as a more powerful engine, improved suspension system, and superior braking power. Both models offer exceptional performance and handling capabilities, making them popular choices among car enthusiasts. 

The WRX STI boasts more advanced components, such as a beefier engine, an enhanced suspension setup, and better braking power.

Ultimately, the decision between the two models depends on your individual needs and budget. The Subaru WRX is an excellent option for those seeking a sporty, cost-effective driving experience. The Subaru WRX STI is worth considering for those seeking a powerful car that can handle any terrain.

If you’re interested in learning more about automotive technology or need help with your next project related to cars or racing games, visit RenderPath.

Avatar photo

Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *