For 2006, the Subaru WRX STI receives several enhancements, along with new styling and a slight change to its name: it’s now STI, rather than lower-case STi.

Based on the Impreza sedan, the STI now carries the same three-section mesh-type grille that is also new-for-2006 on the Impreza line-up, and similar to that introduced on the 2006 B9 Tribeca.

Enhancements for 2006 include a new steering angle sensor input into the Driver-Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD), which enhances power distribution by more accurately relaying the car’s cornering performance. There is also a new roof vane spoiler for improved airflow, a specially-engineered rear diffuser, four-beam headlight system with Xenon bulbs, STI fog lamp covers, and a new airbag indicator light.

Based on Subaru’s WRX World Rally Championship car, the WRX STI uses a four-cylinder, horizontally-opposed “boxer” 2.5-litre engine with turbocharger and intercooler, mated exclusively to a six-speed short-throw manual transmission. The DCCD uses a console-mounted control wheel that allows the driver to vary the front/rear torque split, transferring as much as 65 per cent to the rear wheels.

Available in a single trim line, the WRX STI includes leather interior, Brembo brakes with four-piston front calipers, heated sport seats with six-way driver adjustment, six-CD stereo, leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel, aluminum alloy sport pedals, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, automatic climate control, cruise control and floor mats.

The WRX STI holds a special place for enthusiasts, and until Mitsubishi manages to import the Evolution into Canada, the STI has its niche all to itself, with its all-wheel-drive, driver-controlled torque distribution and a top speed of around 250 km/h. The homely wing really does serve a purpose, reducing lift at high speeds. Styling is always subjective, of course, but whether you love or hate the new nose, you certainly can’t miss it. Its starting price makes the STI one of the more accessible high-performance sedans, but it’s still not pocket change: although it’s not in the same league, the Impreza WRX is a spirited little performer for $13,500 less.

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