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The Exhaust is again similar but different than the WRX exhaust. Similar in that it's a tube that goes from the front of the car to back, and bolts to flange on the muffler. They both have transverse mounted mufflers, but that is where things start to change. The STI steps up the diameter of the exhaust, and gets rid of the funny shaped center mounted resonator for a normal round type. The muffler is similar to the WRX, but the obvious change is the tips. The STI has a new distinct look, kind of Euro, kind of BMW like dual twin tips.
The muffler is about the same size, but with the different tip configuration. The larger piping, different resonator, and tip configuration make for a nice change in the exhaust note.
SUSPENSION AND DRIVETRAIN
The big suspension change was done with the release of the 2008 WRX and now the STI takes it a step further. Like the Engine if you take a quick glance under the car and it doesn't look a whole lot different, but in fact there are a few very important differences to note. Starting from the front of car, the STI suspension is laid out just like the 08 WRX, and previous Legacy models. No lower subframe and the vertical control arm bushings are there. The control arms are the forge aluminum type similar to what was installed on the Legacy Spec-B. The front swaybar is just like every other Subaru out there, 20mm.
Nothing other than that to take note of, other than some funny looking engine mounts. Subaru claimed that the 2008 WRX engine and tranny were lowered roughly .5" over older Impreza's. While this might be true on the WRX, it is very noticeable on the STI. The front engine motor mounts are noticeably flatter, looking as though they had been smashed in a 100 ton press. Also gone are the cheap, rubbery plastic engine mounts. Moving back toward the tranny, we find the same thing. The tranny mount was also shorter than before. Besides lowering the center of gravity the lower mounts make the engine and tranny stiffer, providing a better transmission of power from the engine to the wheels. And like the other STI tranny mounts, its solid across the middle of it.
Just like the 2007 STI the 2008 STI has taller gear ratios for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears. In the 2007 STI this was a noticeable change and made for a better delivery of the power across the entire speed range of the car. The clutch is the same nice and smoother engaging clutch of the past. We will soon find out how much torque it can hold! The shifter seems shorter than I remember, but this could be because I was used to the longer stock WRX SS I had been driving lately. Still in my opinion, the height of the knob seems too short, but I am tall guy, so shorter shifters are not something i have ever liked. Shorter throw, now that is a different story. Since the WRX came out, I always thought that it needed to be a couple inches taller. One strange thing with the tranny is the dipstick is gone! Now in its place is a Socket cap screw plugging the hole. So where did it go? The dip stick altogether is gone, and now has the more normal side fill plug. For those of us who do our own service, this is not going to be as easy as it once was to change the tranny oil.
As we get to the back of the car, again the suspension is similar to the WRX, but a couple things are different. One is the differential cradle. The cradle on the WRX is a steel formed piece, and like other STI parts, its aluminum and a bit lighter. The other thing about the rear suspension is the swaybar is bigger. The WRX uses a 15mm and the STI has an 18mm. Overall this seems small compared to the older cars, but because of the way the swaybar, is designed, this has a greater overall stiffness than the 19mm bars of the past.
The Suspension bushing and rear subframe bushings seem a little stiffer, but it will take some part number cross referencing to figure this out.
Last but not least, the wheel and tires. The wheels are huge for the STI. Wheels are 18x8.5" with a 55 offset. The older STI wheels were 17x7.5, and later changed to 17x8. The largest tire that came on previous STI's was a 235, and now they have monster wide 245! Like other changes to the STI, Subaru picked a more subdued tire. Gone is the super sticky Potneza for a Dunlop with a tread wear rating of 300. Some magazines have done some skid pad tests and shown a slight drop in lateral G's on the 08, which is most likely from change in tires. While the 08 STI has a lower lateral G rating, it has shown to be faster in the slalom and faster around the track. To us and others reading this article, I am sure we are thinking the same thing. Who cares what it comes with, how big of a tire can we go! With stock 8.5 wheels, 265 should be no problem, but what about a 295? With the right width and offset, I think 295s will be common. Imagine the grip the STI will have with some 295 Yoko Advan A048's. That will be scary!
More refinements on found on the insides of the STI. The first thing you will notice is the seats and carpet, are not blue anymore, but a better grey color. Subaru is again, trying to make their cars more appealing to everyone, and getting away from the blue is one to get the older crowd interested in the car. The seats also get better bolsters than the older STI. I as well as many others hated the past STI seats. They were too flat, too hard, no bolsters. The WRX seats were better than the STI seats!
The next most noticeable item is the center console. It's more Legacy like, with nicer buttons, trim and the cool sliding door that covers up the cup holders. Located on the center console is the buttons for the center diff control and I-drive functions. The Diff control of the past was simple. There was an auto mode, and a knob to put more power to the back or front, which also allowed you to lock the diff, or leave it open. The 08 STI has all these same features, but adds a DIFF plus and DIFF Minus setting for gravel specific, and tarmac specific settings. And instead of the Radio Shack type roller switch, it's a silver, luxury car type of switch. Taking the similar styling note from the older STI, the new one has a more drastic approach to the shifter trim ring. Previous STI's simply took the WRX console and bolted on a ring. Now its whole different plastic console piece compared to the WRX. Also right above it a perfect Cell phone holder. The WRX has a similar spot, but no rubber mat. So your phone or garage door opener just slides around, and annoys the hell out of you!
Onto the dash. I had been driving the 08 WRX for a long time, and come to love the layout of the dash, the quality of the gauges and seating postion. Again, the STI goes a step further with the gauges, and HVAC controls. The lighting of the dash I a little different, as is the HVAC controls. The small bits of silver add to a nicer, more quality look to the interior. To the left of the dash are the mirror controls, headlight leveling system, and the DSC button. This is all similar to the WRX, except that the DSC has 2 modes. Normally it controls both traction, and yaw or rotation of the car. Traction control is handled by closing the throttle, and the yaw is controlled by applying the brakes. Hit it once and both are turned off, and the DSC light turns orange. But hold it down the DSC light turns green. This second mode does away with the traction control and keeps the yaw control in place. This mode is what most likely will be preferred for track or auto crossing. So now if the tires slip, the ABS unit will start to apply force to the brakes, and not cut power to the engine.
The rest of the interior is about the same, but with the new grey Alcantara patched in here and there. The seating room is the same, the trunk room is the same, speaking of the trunk, gone is the Intercooler sprayer tank. Subaru didn't include this in the 08 STI, which is a bummer, but it just gives us another reason to create our own tank for our water injection system. There is a little more plastic on the doors than I would like but its Subaru not a Porsche!
Many people are complaining about how expensive the STI is this year. The price for the base STI did go up $1000, but there is more than a $1000 in parts. 18 wheels, 245 wide tires, 2 stage DSC, New Center diff settings, Lower engine and drive train, more powerful engine, nicer interior, better seating position, telescoping steering wheel, wider track, shorter body, cool hatchback shape, and the flares all make it worth way more than $1000. Not to mention than this STI has the most potential for power and handling compared to previous STI's.
Subaru did leave some things to be desired, but of course, no car is perfect. That is why the term "aftermarket parts" exist!
What are our plans for the STI?
We have 2 big tricks up our sleeve, things that no one else has ever done before! Besides that, there are the normal things to expect. Turbo back exhausts, intakes, intercoolers, shifters, bushings, swaybars, endlinks, PSRS, and the most important item we plan on offering is Custom AccessPORT maps for all stages of tune. As you are reading this, we are the first to have, and are already tuning our STI. We are the first, and we are the ones leading the pack. There are many exciting things in the next few months you will see from us!