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This is the most powerful Subaru road car…ever ever

Who doesn’t love a special-edition WRX STI? Just recently, South Africans were treated to the very special one-of-thirty WRX STI Diamond Edition. And today, Subaru USA has unveiled their special-edition US-only S209, a car that is regarded as the last hurrah for the current-generation WRX STI which is set to be replaced by an all-new model later this year.

If you’re a fan of the Gran Turismo franchise, you would be very familiar with the S-Line of STIs that have been exclusively sold in Japan since 2001’S S201. Following many years of JDM-specific S20(X) series models, for the first time one is being made available solely to the USA. And over the years, these upgraded versions of the WRX STI typically feature more power and other performance upgrades, and the S209 is no different.

Technically speaking, the S209 is not a Subaru model. Because of the extensive mechanical work necessary to create the model, the automaker actually homologates it as an STI in the United States, rather than a Subaru.

Powering the S209 is a tried-and-tasted 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer-four, but in this application it produces 254kw. Midrange torque, too, gets a notable bump, up 10 percent on the WRX STI at 3,600rpm. The power bump comes courtesy of an HKS turbocharger, and an increase in boost pressure from 1.1 bar in the regular WRX STI to 1.2 bar in the S209. Proudly displaying an S209 serial number plate, the enhanced boxer engine utilizes forged pistons and connecting rods that are both lighter and stronger. The only available transmission is a six-speed manual transmission, that works together with Subaru’s iconic Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system coupled with an electronic multi-mode Driver Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD).

To feed more air to the EJ25, the S209 uses a high-flow intake system featuring a new intake duct, induction box with conical air filter, silicone turbo inlet duct and, a nod from the 2004-07 WRX STI, an intercooler water spray system that lowers intercooler temperature via manually operated steering-wheel paddles. More air demands more fuel, so the S209 receives a new high-flow fuel pump, larger fuel injectors and an STI-tuned engine control module. High-performance mufflers deliver 17-percent less airflow resistance while larger hand-polished stainless-steel exhaust tips - 101mm in diameter - deliver aggressive appearance and acoustics.

By contrast, our SA-only Diamond Edition also featured the EJ25 paired with a six-speed manual transmission, although an ECU remap and a performance exhaust system saw power increase to 260kw and 464nm – significantly less than the S209. So expect the S209 to post a far quicker 0-100kph than the Diamond Edition’s effort of 5.03 seconds.

The S209 also boasts significant structural reinforcements and an upgraded suspension (featuring Bilstein dampers) compared to the WRX STI, all of which conspire to help it out handle the regular WRX STI. The S209 looks more aggressive thanks to fender flares that widen the body by 43mm and - aerodynamic aids like a bespoke front splitter and a massive rear spoiler. According to Subaru, vents in the front fenders aid cooling, while vents in the rear fenders help decrease aerodynamic drag.

The special USDM model rides on 19-inch BBS alloy wheels shod with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A rubber that is a significant contributor to the car's tenacious maximum lateral grip of over 1.0g. Brembo brakes, with cross-drilled steel rotors and 6-piston monoblock front calipers and 2-piston monoblock rear calipers, provide stout stopping force, thanks in part to upgraded high-friction pads that deliver improved fade-resistance.

The interior has also come under the knife, as an STI badge replaces the traditional Subaru star cluster on the center of the Ultrasuede-wrapped steering wheel and S209 badges adorn the passenger-side dash and the headrests of the Recaro front bucket seats. Outside, special S209 badges are affixed to the front grille and fenders as well as the rear decklid. There are only two colour options for the S209 - WR Blue Pearl/grey wheels and Crystal White Pearl/gold wheels.

Only 200 units of the WRX STI S209 will be built, earmarked exclusively for the US. Pricing will be announced closer to its US launch in late 2019.

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