Wheels.ca | Evan Williams | 01/15/2019

This hottest STI will be limited to just 200 examples. And it’s exclusively for the U.S. market.

After years of teasing us with Japan-only special models like the rally-bred 22B, Subaru is finally bringing the goods with a full-on STI S model for North America. The cream of Subaru’s performance car crop.

Just kidding. They’re teasing us even more. That’s because the S209, revealed today at the 2019 North American International Auto Show is coming to America. And that’s it. This extremely limited-edition and forbidden fruit will sit just on the other side of the border.

Which is a shame, because this is a very serious STI. Subaru says that it’s the fastest,best handling,and best braking car they’ve ever offered. Including the’Ring Record STI RA.

Since it’s the fastest, it’s not much of a surprise that it’s the most powerful STI. The 2.5L boxer four gets a host of modifications to boost it to 341 hp. That’s thanks to an upgraded HKS turbo, more boost (18.0 vs 16.2 psi), new lighter pistons and rods, and a water-spray for the intercooler to help keep the charge air from feeling that heat. The spray is activated by paddles behind the wheel which might be the best use of paddle-shifters ever.

Subaru says that there’s more than just the 36 hp boost over the STI. There’s also 10 percent more midrange torque for “higher corner exit speeds.”

Gearchanges are handled by a six-speed manual that sends power to Subaru’s all-wheel drive system. It gets active torque vectoring and a driver controlled centre diff to let the pilot dial up rotation on demand.

The suspension gets Bilstein dampers, stiffer coil springs, and a thicker rear sway bar. Plus pillow-type bushings for the bar links, that are actually in no way pillowy, and very much add directness to a car. Along with some NVH.

A flexible strut brace is designed to be flexible in the middle. So it stiffens the car side to side but moves front to rear. Subaru says that optimizes tire grip but adds ride compliance. Those front bumper canards and spoilers are functional, the company says that this one can hit 1.0G on the skidpad.

Inside, there’s Ultrasuede on the steering wheel and the console storage bin. And, more importantly, big bolstered suede Recaro driver and front passenger seats. There’s S209 badging everywhere, including the front fenders and on the rear wing.

It’ll come in white and WR blue, and yes you’ll be able to get it with gold wheels, the way Subarus were always intended to be specced.  Those BBS wheels wear the largest tires Subaru’s ever fitted.

This hottest STI will be limited to just 200 examples. And it’s exclusively for the U.S. market.