30 years of Subaru STI performance madness!

The Subaru Tecnica International performance department is 30 years old – here are a few of the rally, race and road car highlights from three fast, burbling decades

Subaru is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Subaru Tecnica International (STI), its championship-winning motorsports subsidiary and developer of high-performance Subaru vehicles and parts.

STI was formed on 2 April 1988, and has since taken Subaru to three World Rally Championships, 47 WRC overall wins, and four class wins in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

Its achievements include a number of records set, including the lap record for saloons at the Nürburgring Nordschleife (6:57.5) with a WRX STI Type RA NBR. The same car also set lap records at the Isle of Man TT and the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb, where it was third fastest.

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First Subaru motorsport

Subaru started in motorsport in 1972 with a Leone (GL in the US) in Australia’s Southern Cross Rally. In 1980, it made history with the first four-wheel drive car entered in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

As turbocharged four-wheel drive Subarus began to make their presence better known, the motorsports and performance-development subsidiary of Subaru Tecnica International (STI) was established, guided by STI founder and president Ryuichiro Kuze.

The first car built by STI was the 1989 Subaru Legacy RS RA, which featured modified suspension, brakes and a 220bhp turbocharged flat-four 'boxer' engine. In January 1989 an STI-prepared Subaru Legacy Turbo broke the FIA World Speed Endurance Record (below) for 100,000km, driving more than 62,000 miles at an average speed of 138mph over 20 days on a track in Arizona.

Subaru WRC Domination

After its successful competition debut at the Safari Rally in 1990, STI moved onto the World Rally Championship, working with Prodrive. Initially the Legacy was the weapon of choice, with Colin McRae as driver – and the Legacy recorded Subaru’s first win in 1993 at the New Zealand Rally.

In 1994, STI switched to the compact Subaru Impreza, – the team took second overall in 1994 and won manufacturers’ titles in 1995 1996 and 1997, making Subaru the first Japanese company to win the WRC manufacturers’ championship for three consecutive years.

Since then, Subaru has clocked up 47 WRC wins, more than any other Japanese manufacturer, as well as success for several of its drivers including Colin McRae (1995 drivers’ champion), Richard Burns (2001 champion), Peter Solberg (2003 champion), and Toshihiro Arai (2005 and 2007 Production car WRC champion).

Subaru STI road cars

  • 1992: limited-production Legacy STI in Japan in 1992
  • 1994: first in a long line of WRX STI models introduced

  • 1994: Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive introduced in the Impreza WRX Type RA STI
  • 1998: Impreza 22B STI for Japan – under 400 in Sonic Blue Mica and gold BBS forged alloy wheels, 2.2-litre turbocharged boxer engine 280bhp

  • 2004: WRX STI, with turbocharged 300bhp engine, short-throw six-speed manual transmission, DCCD all-wheel drive, STI suspension and Brembo brakes

  • 2018: Limited-production 2018 WRX STI Type RA (Record Attempt), with carbonfibre roof, Bilstein STI suspension and a modified Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system

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