The bronze wheel of a 2020 WRX STI Series.White is shown.

Subaru and Racing: The Story Behind a Rally Champion

When most people hear the name Subaru, their mind travels to families leisurely cruising the country in all-wheel drive cars, making Kodak memories while enveloped in a Subaru safety bubble. Subaru is practical. Safe. Reliable. However, if you have an interest in performance cars, you may know that Subaru also has a wild side. Most people associate Subaru with safety – and they should – but when you visit a Subaru dealer near you, you will also be greeted by some high-performance cars with a rally legacy.

While America has been busy putting Subarus in their driveway to stay safe and enjoy the industry’s most reliable lineup of all-wheel drive cars and SUVs, the company has also made a name for itself in the gritty rally racing scene. Subaru first hit the rally scene back in 1972 at the Australia Southern Cross Rally with the Subaru Leone. In 1980, the Leone further earned the distinction of being the very first all-wheel drive car to enter the World Rally Championship (WRC).

All-wheel drive proved to be Subaru’s secret weapon in a competition previously dominated by rear-wheel drive vehicles, turning the WRC on its head. Within a handful of years, every manufacturer was entering all-wheel drive cars to keep up with Subaru had started. In 1988, Subaru founded a dedicated motorsports division known as Subaru Tecnica International or STI. When you see those three letters on a Subaru model, you know that you are getting the best performance available.

Since then, Subaru has racked up several rally victories and strong showings, including becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to win three consecutive WRC manufacturer’s titles. Overall, STI has taken no fewer than 47 WRC wins so far. The car that made this possible was the Subaru Impreza WRX STI with its advanced all-wheel drive technology.

Lately, STI has also made a foray into track racing, including the Japanese SUPER GT series. Modified by STI, the Subaru BRZ sports car took five pole positions in 2013 alone. In 2017, with the WRX STI Type RA NBR Special, Subaru achieved something incredible, setting the fastest Nurburgring lap time ever for a four-door car. The record, 6:57.5, still stands today.

If you own a Subaru, the car that’s currently sitting in your driveway is part of a rich history of rally racing and racetrack prowess. In fact, Subaru’s racing division has used its racing successes to engineer a lineup of performance vehicles, like the 2020 WRX and WRX STI, that are available at your local Subaru dealer. These powerful cars incorporate all the best of the Subaru we know but add insane performance to the mix.

Let’s get to know Subaru’s spicy side with a closer look at the 2020 Subaru WRX and WRX STI Series.White. With a limited production of just 500 units of each, excitement for these street-legal rally racers is building among automotive journalists, collectors, and racing aficionados everywhere.

2020 WRX Series.White

A white 2020 WRX Series.White from a Subaru dealer near me is parked on pavement in front of grass.

First off, the WRX Series.White, according to a November 2019 Subaru press release, is the “highest-performance WRX model ever produced.” The WRX comes with a sticker price of $34,895, which we think is pretty reasonable considering what you’ll get. Let’s start with the custom Ceramic White exterior paint and the bragging rights that come from owning one of just 500 in existence. That’s just the beginning, though.

Under the hood, a turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4 engine with an aluminum block combines with a 6-speed manual transmission (an automatic isn’t available in the Series.White) to pump out 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The gang at Car and Driver took the WRX Series.White for a spin and achieved an impressive 5.2-second zero-to-sixty dash.

We like the 2020 WRX Series.White equipped with the optional Performance Package. It ups the ante on actual performance as well as contributing a little more exterior evidence that this isn’t a typical Subaru. That’s thanks to the bright yellow Bilstein dampers and the signature red-caliper Brembo brake system, both intentionally visible behind the 18-inch bronze-color wheels.

The Performance Package also dresses up the WRX’s cabin with Ultrasuede Recaro seats with an 8-way power driver’s seat. Recaro, an aftermarket company that specializes in ergonomic performance seats for just about everything – from gaming and airplanes to sports cars – built these seats specifically for Subaru. The company has been outfitting race cars for years, and its expertise in designing seats that enhance the performance driving experience is on display here with the WRX Series.White.

Other equipment includes special LED headlights that are tuned to the WRX’s steering, which means they turn as the wheel turns to cast light through corners. LED fog lights and taillights are also standard. Special badging around the WRX’s exterior clearly distinguishes it as a limited edition, and keyless access and remote start remind us all that this is still a passenger car designed for everyday use.

2020 WRX STI Series.White

A white 2020 Subaru WRX STI Series.White is parked on pavement under a blue sky.

Maybe 268 horsepower just isn’t enough? Don’t worry, the team at Subaru has another option for you. Check out the 2020 WRX STI Series.White. This model lives up to the STI name, with even more performance and speed. The WRX STI Series.White receives a 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine, tuned to deliver 310 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque.

Priced at $43,595, the WRX STI is a premium performance car built with equipment designed for one thing: speed. The Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) acts as a gateway for traction, allowing drivers to dial in more traction in the front or in the back, depending on road conditions and desired driving style. The DCCD combines with the WRX STI’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Active Torque Vectoring (another system that distributes power to individual tires as needed) to take full advantage of the standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance tires and Bilstein sport-tuned suspension to deliver confidence during tight turns and performance driving.

Inside, the WRX STI Series.White receives racing-inspired black Ultrasuede seating with special Carbon Black leather bolsters, supplied by Recaro. The driver’s seat also gets 8-way power. The upgraded race car seating means business, especially alongside the red-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel.

On the exterior, the WRX STI distinguishes itself with 19-inch bronze-coated forged alloy wheels, special matte black badging, and a dimensional mesh grille that includes an STI badge and bright red accents. The visible Brembo brake calipers are coated in an understated silver with a black STI logo, finishing out an aggressive exterior stance.

The journalists at Auto Blog took the Series.White out for a spin and gave it high marks for handling, exclaiming that “every little input from the fast, accurate steering gets an immediate and eager response from the car.” Reviewers in general report confident handling as a highlight, citing Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and torque vectoring capability.

One of the less sexy but important benefits of this limited edition WRX lineup is the price. Adjusting for inflation, this 2020 WRX line is actually less expensive than previous model year editions. Subaru designed the WRX Series.White for accessibility, which means buyers looking for a practical performance sedan have a chance to own a car with serious street credibility.

Take Part in a Legacy of Performance

At the end of the day, Subaru will always be known for its dependability and safety. The company benchmarks its entire lineup on this brand equity, leaving consumers to discover other aspects of the brand on their own. We respect this under-the-radar approach but hope more buyers come to realize that Subaru has also achieved amazing things on the racetrack and in the rally car scene.

It’s time for everyone to view Subaru through a different lens; the lens of bragging rights. There’s nothing like a pair of limited-run performance-oriented sports sedans to beef up the reputation of a company that’s already known for building extraordinary cars and SUVs. We hope you go test drive the WRX or BRZ at your local Subaru dealership to experience another side of this iconic brand.