Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi. Click image to enlarge

Any time a manufacturer borrows a term from their native language for a special edition, you know that we auto writers are going to offer a translation and play with the theme. Ad nauseam.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Subaru got it wrong. You see, shortly after picking up Subaru’s most potent pocket rocket WRX STI in this year’s unique Tsurugi Edition, I dubbed it the Ninja Edition. Why name a car that has its big brash spoiler and loud gold wheels stripped after a traditional sword? This is a stealth edition. No, no, that just won’t do. An automotive ninja capable of delivering a variety of weapons silently… er, okay, maybe not silently, but definitely capable of blending in with traffic only to erupt into action at the slightest provocation. Yup, this trim deserves to bear the name of Japan’s famed elite, super-secret, super-stealthy warriors.

Our particular tester was rendered in a pearlescent Storm Shadow white (for those of you not up on your GI Joe characters, that’s not actually Subaru’s name for the colour…), ready to blend into our snowy, wintry Canadian landscape. As fortune would have it, our week was dry and warm, so Subaru’s symmetrical AWD was put to more entertaining and perhaps slightly less responsible use maintaining grip in turns, curves and onramps. Oh boy, does this thing ever grip. I had passengers reaching for the holy, um, smoke handles when I ‘demonstrated’ the STI’s capabilities. Lucky for them I was taking it easy. Plenty of credit goes to the tires, super-sticky Dunlops (SP600 245/40R18 summer performance tires) that seemed locked onto the tarmac in any situation.

Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi. Click image to enlarge

But before I get too far into the evaluation, a quick word about this new Tsurugi edition, priced at $41,495 with a $1,650 Freight & PDI charge. Exclusive to the Canadian market (we never did get the ‘Halloween’ Special Edition WRX/STI painted in vivid Tangerine orange that the Yanks got), the Tsurugi first deletes the massive spoiler and gold wheels (in truth, those gold wheels are really just an option, anyway), then inserts 18-inch Enkei cast alloy wheels and a front lip spoiler to replace the downforce of the deleted spoiler. Rounding out the look are multi-reflector halogen fog lights, HID xenon headlight projectors and mirror-integrated LED turn signals and the Kanji character for tsurugi on the trunklid (at least I’m assuming it’s the Kanji character for tsurugi – it definitely looks like a sword-ish character).

Interior features include power sunroof and automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirror and a Kicker 10-inch subwoofer to enhance your enjoyment of Backspin and other bass-heavy satellite radio favourites. Subaru tries to class it up with leather seating surfaces and stitched badging, but like the C6 Corvette, there is only so much a special edition can do to distract from a fairly basic and outdated interior. While basic, it is sufficiently functional, and for the engineering packaged into the STI for $40K, it seems like a fair sacrifice in the name of cheap thrills.

Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi Edition car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2014 Subaru WRX STI Tsurugi. Click image to enlarge

The most relevant pieces of the STI interior are the seats (and specifically the driver’s seat – screw all the passengers), steering wheel, pedals and shifter. Steering wheel is adjustable for reach and tilt, and the shifter falls easily to hand and the pedals are drilled alloys with a full dead pedal – I found the brake-accelerator spacing too wide for effective heel-toe work, but could be a longer period of adjustment or a proper day at the track is required to adjust – a week never seems like enough with a performance car of this calibre. There is no question that STIs and WRXs are a common sighting at pretty much every track day I’ve ever been to, so take that as a grassroots hearsay recommendation.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.