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The Subaru WRX STI’s name is a bit of an alphabet soup. You may know that the “WRX” in Subaru’s famous road-ready rally car stands for “World Rally eXperimental,” but do you know what the STI stands for? 

STI is an acronym for “Subaru Tecnica International,” and it’s been Subaru’s premier performance division for decades. Learn more about its history and which cars have been lucky enough to carry the STI name.

Subaru Tecnica International: since 1988

The official founding date of the Subaru Tecnica International brand dates back to 1988, but the dream began in Australia in 1972. 

Here’s a brief timeline of the history of STI: 

  • 1972: The Subaru Leone enters the 1972 Australia Southern Cross Rally
  • 1980: The Leone 4WD debuts as the first AWD competitor in the World Rally Championship
  • 1988: The founding of Subaru Tecnica International by Ryuichiro Kuze, and the beginning of this specific performance tuning for Subaru cars
  • 1989: The Subaru STI Legacy sets a world speed record with an average speed of 138 mph for over 447 hours straight
  • 1990: STI debuts at the Safari Rally
  • 1994: Subaru Tecnica International produces the Subaru Impreza WRC and the first Impreza WRX STI
  • 1997: STI wins 8 out of 14 races
  • 2004: The Subaru WRX STI is available in the U.S. for the first time
  • 2017: Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special sets a record lap time for four-door sports cars at the Nürburgring
  • 2022: Subaru announces a pivot on the production of current and future STI cars

STI stands for so much more than Subaru Tecnica International. It stands for a storied history of scrappy, underdog sports-car performance. (Metaphorically, of course.)

Subaru STI rally car at Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo 2008
Subaru Rally Car in Monte Carlo | Reporter Images/Getty Images

Subaru STI cars and coupes

Currently, there are four total production models represented in the STI family:

  • Subaru WRX STI
  • Subaru S209
  • Subaru WRX STI Series.White
  • Subaru BRZ tS

The WRX STI is the only production sports car that you can buy new, and even it is running out of time. Subaru recently announced that it was killing the fifth-generation WRX STI. There will not be a new 2022 WRX STI released, and we may be waiting years for a replacement to show up.

Want to get your hands on a Subaru S209, Series.White model, or BRZ tS? You’ll need to start searching used-car lots and listing sites because these STI cars are no longer in production.

A white 2019 Subaru S209 STI sports car sits on a stage at an automotive show, with manufactured fog floating around it for dramatic effect
2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Will Subaru stop making STI cars?

The future of Subaru Tecnica International as a whole is uncertain. When Subaru announced the discontinuation of the WRX STI, it didn’t specify the direction it would be going in. The one hint that the brand did drop mentioned electrification. This leaves the door open for Subaru STI cars to become fully electric and compete with other EV sports cars on the market. 

With a proven track record of surprising skeptics, Subaru Tecnica International may just be able to pull it off.


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