Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
Lap Time: 3:03.4
Class: LL2 | Base: $64,880 | As Tested: $64,880
Power and Weight: 341 hp • 3474 lb • 10.2 lb/hp
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 A, 265/35R-19 94Y
Maybe it’s the influence of Subaru’s lengthy rallying history, but getting the S209 to turn a hot lap requires approaching corners with way too much speed and just chucking it in. These are not the tidy lines or slow-in-fast-out lessons racing-school instructors draw on whiteboards.
The S209 is the first special-edition S model available in the U.S. and the fifth STI we’ve run at VIR. It’s also the quickest one, but not by as much as Subaru hoped. The company target for the S209 was the Cadillac ATS-V’s 2:59.8 time. We tried, strapping into the S209 more than any other car on our final day of lapping. While we couldn’t match the Caddy’s time, the S209 did finish 1.5 seconds ahead of the 2018 WRX STI Type RA.
A lap in this Subie is really a mixed bag. On the front straight, the 341-hp S209 underperformed, winding up fourth slowest overall despite our most violent, no-lift upshifts and tapping the steering-wheel paddles to spritz the intercooler with water. In tight sections, however, the special Dunlops and fortified chassis put on a clinic. The S209 carries more speed (averaging 118.2 mph) through the Climbing Esses than any other LL2 contender this year. If it had more power, its chassis wouldn’t get in the way of its going quicker. Diving into the downhill transitions of Spiral, the S209 puts up the highest minimum speed of the entire field—Corvette, 911 Turbo S, and 765LT included.
But the S209’s 70 percent price premium over the regular STI creates big expectations. For one, it’d be nice to have track-ready seats. We also experienced a fuel-starvation issue that left the S209 sputtering with a half-tank of go-go juice. This STI generation has similarly run out of momentum, and we hold out hope for more power in the next go-round.
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