Subaru’s new U.S.-bound special editions are lighter, sharper, and rarer

Subaru is releasing new versions of the WRX STI and BRZ, which initially got enthusiasts salivating. But these new cars may not be what the fans were hoping for after all.

The 2018 Subaru BRZ tS and WRX STI Typa RA are limited editions, with production runs of 500 units each. While they do feature some performance tweaks from Subaru’s STI (Subaru Tecnica International) division, they don’t represent a huge leap from their respective base models. That may disappoint fans, who were particularly hoping for a more powerful “BRZ STI,” along the lines of 2015’s STI Performance Concept.

Still, these two new Subies shouldn’t be dismissed. The “RA” in “WRX STI Type RA” stands for “Record Attempt.” Subaru has made plenty of those over the years, including one that yielded the fastest time for a car over the Isle of Man TT course. It also beat the record for fastest sedan around the Nurburgring with a race car loosely based on the WRX STI Type RA.

The WRX STI Type RA road car gets a 5-horsepower boost, giving it a total of 310 hp. Its six-speed manual transmission also gets a short-throw shifter and revised third-gear ratio. Subaru added a carbon fiber roof, removed the spare tire, and substituted a lighter rear spoiler and 19-inch wheels to save weight. It also added upgraded Bilstein shocks and Brembo brakes. Red and black exterior trim and model-specific Recaro seats set the Type RA apart from a standard STI, as does the individually numbered plaque on the center console.

The BRZ tS (tuned by STI) is based on a model that’s been on sale in Japan for a few years. Performance upgrades include stiffer suspension with Sachs shocks, Brembo brakes, and 18-inch wheels mounting more aggressive tires, but no extra power. A big rear spoiler and the same red-and-black trim elements as the Type RA give the BRZ tS a much sportier look, and Subaru promises a boy-racer interior with red contrast stitching and Alcantara.

Subaru considers the BRZ tS and WRX STI Type RA to be the first “complete” cars from its STI division ever sold in the U.S. STI has offered similar special editions in Japan for years, but Subaru wants it to have a bigger presence on this side of the Pacific. So expect more special editions in the years to come, even if the fabled BRZ STI never materializes.

The BRZ tS and WRX STI Type RA go on sale in early 2018. Pricing starts at $34,355 for the BRZ tS and $49,855 (both prices include a mandatory $860 destination charge).

Updated by Stephen Edelstein: Added pricing information and more photos.

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