The limited edition of one of my favourites The Tsurugi is an uncompromising weapon of speed that made no claims to be anything other than what it already was.
The Subaru WRX and STi have soldiered on their existing platform largely unchanged since 2007. The WRX is the hot version of the Impreza, with the STi building on the WRX for more serious enthusiasts. Both cars were good values for their time, and still are good values now, depending on what you are looking for. The WRX and STi are both hard to beat when your priority is overall road-going performance in all weather conditions. I spent some time with a 2014 STi Sport-Tech model earlier this year and found it to be an uncompromising weapon of speed that made no claims to be anything other than what it already was. Like most Subarus, there are a few quirks one might want to be aware of before jumping in – some of which add character to an already unique platform. Maybe as a last-hurrah before the new WRX and STi are expected to arrive next year, Subaru Canada came up with the 2014 Subaru STI Tsurugi Edition. They handed me the keys to a Satin White Pearl sedan to mess about with for a week.
Canada often gets the short-end of the stick when it comes to special editions. In this case, the tables have been turned with the Subaru WRX STi Tsurugi Edition. Available only in Canada, this unique sedan-only trim level rejigs some of the optional equipment, with some cosmetic tweaks to bring some more “sophistication” (Subaru’s word) to the STi lineup. The most obvious change is the deletion of the “high-profile” rear-wing from the rear decklid. Some may welcome this change as it does make for more of a sleeper look, but I feel it takes away from the STi style we have come to know and love. While Subaru has taken away the big rear wing, they added a lower lip spoiler to the front-end. While subtle, some Subaru enthusiasts I ran into all expressed their unanimous approval. The Tsurugi Edition also rides on a unique set of Enkei cast wheels that feature thicker spokes than the wheels found on the Sport-Tech trim levels. It is also treated to the full lighting package: HID low-beam headlamps, fog lights, and LED turn signals integrated into the side mirrors. Inside, Subaru is excited to boast about the full leather interior – a first for the STi. While the Tsurugi Edition doesn’t feature integrated navigation, it gets a Kicker 10” subwoofer in the trunk to compliment the standard stereo. Lastly, a Japanese character that we can only assume represents the word “Tsurugi”, is added to the rear trunklid. Subaru says it stands for, “double-sided broadsword”, which reflects this car’s blend of “aggressive performance and sophisticated design”.
Motivating the Tsurugi Edition is the very same powertrain seen in the standard STi: A 2.5L “boxer” four-cylinder motor, producing 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. That power is routed through limited-slip differentials all around, and makes up what Subaru calls their Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. The STi gains an additional driver-controlled centre differential (DCCD) that can bias power delivery on demand to either the front or rear wheels. In short: lots of techno wizardry going on to help deliver that horsepower to the ground, regardless of whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Covering the rubber contact patches is the same set of sticky Dunlop SP Sport 600 summer-performance tires, in size 245/40R18. Another toy Subaru put into the STi is the SI-Drive mode selector, which alters how responsive the power delivery is. Sport mode (where I had the car set to most of the time) improves response for enthusiastic driving. Sport-Sharp mode cranks everything up for near-instant response.
As focused as this speed machine is, fuel economy is generally not high on the list of priorities for prospective owners of these cars. Nonetheless, with some intelligent driving, I was able to manage an indicated 11.6L/100km. Not bad, considering how much this car begs to be driven hard. Premium fuel is absolutely required, and Subaru even goes as far as strongly recommending a fuel with a minimum octane rating of 93 or more. For your own sake, I’d recommend looking for your friendly local fuel station that serves 94 octane.
I was given the opportunity to drive the Tsurugi Edition on a closed course, which had me very excited. The weather forecast announced for lots of rain. Many people would consider this a bad thing, but with the traction this car is able to achieve, I was looking forward to the inclement weather. Initially getting onto the track and exploring the grip provided by the wet tires was a slightly daunting experience. I had the DCCD set to Auto [-] which sends more power to the rear of the car. After some seat time, I became more confident and I was able to wring the most out of the car in the rain. Pedal placement is very good for heel-toe downshifts (read: two feet dancing on three pedals) – getting it correct as you enter a corner is such a satisfying feeling. The clutch and shifter are a joy to use – very direct clutch feel and a short-throw shifter that feels very positive upon engagement. The all-wheel-drive system really does a fantastic job at putting power down to the ground. Even in the rain, you are able to launch the car out of a corner with great confidence. This car really is the ideal partner when it comes to serious driving. The fact that it can do all this with limited traction available is icing on the cake.
When you’re not pushing in maximum-attack mode, you can get a better look at the interior that surrounds you. The heated leather seats do a decent job holding you in place, but these are still fully manual seats. There is, at least, enough adjustment to get into a comfortable driving position. The seat heater controls are somewhat difficult to locate at first – but they are little tiny knobs that live just forward of the centre armrest. The Kicker 10” subwoofer may be welcome to those who like to blast their tunes on the road, but I much preferred hearing the boxer rumble from the exhaust. The rumble from the engine at 1500rpm is not unlike the sound produced by the subwoofer. Overall noise entering the cabin is quite high thanks to the exhaust humming away and the sticky performance tires. The standard stereo head unit looks and feels very outdated, and the Bluetooth voice prompts are muffled and unclear. All these are small tradeoffs that conveniently disappear when you show up at its natural habitat: the track.
Subaru asks $41,495 for the STi Tsurugi Edition. They have never really dabbled in complicated bespoke option configurations, so you only pick whether you want four or five doors, and whether or not you want the luxury features. Interestingly, this Tsurugi Edition trim replaces the top-rung Sport-Tech sedan in the lineup. Regardless, the STi Tsurugi Edition is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a potent track weapon. Out of the box, it is ready to lay down some serious power, lap times, and provide a solid adrenaline rush to those who know how to treat it right.
2014 Subaru STI Tsurugi Edition Gallery