Super-hot hatchbacks are already depressingly uncommon vehicles on America's roads. We'd dig it if everyone saw the joy that came with daily driving a Honda Civic Type R or Ford Focus RS. But if you're of a different mind and find fast small cars too common, there is a vehicle that will help you stand out from the crowd, if you can find it.
The Subaru WRX STI Type RA is a limited run of the all-wheel-drive, boxer-powered sedan – yes, it's only available as a sedan, so it's not a true hot hatch, but that's semantics – that adds new, exclusive looks to a familiar package.
You'll still get a 2.5-liter, turbocharged flat-four with 310 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, a six-speed manual, and Subaru's clever all-wheel-drive system. But you'll also get a big freaking wing, which like the roof, is finished in carbon fiber. The Type RA also comes with historically appropriate gold BBS wheels. A unique body kit with red accents, fashionable Recaro seats, and a beautiful Alcantara steering wheel round out the visual changes.
Those are the most noticeable changes. What's harder to spot is the impact of a shorter third gear, promising more aggressive acceleration, and an updated exhaust system. Yes, the STI Type RA pulls a bit harder in third-gear situations – highway on ramps are even more of a riot because of it – but good luck spotting the impact of the unique exhaust. The Type RA sounds good, but it's merely like someone turned the volume of the already restrained stock exhaust from five to six. We'd rather it get turned to 11.
Beyond those changes, this is still the STI we've known and enjoyed for years. The main problem comes with the price tag and the limited availability. With just 500 Type Ras in the US, it's going to be a challenge to find something other than a pre-owned example. And if you do find a new one, the price tag is $49,855, including an $860 destination charge. That's nearly $13,000 more than the base STI. But is that price too much for the ultimate Subaru fan?
To find out more about what makes the STI Type RA tick, check out our latest episode of Why Buy.
2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA