Is The Subaru WRX STI Really A Rally Car?
What modifications are needed to turn a stock STI into a rally car?
Big thanks to DirtFish for inviting me out!
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Is the Subaru STI really a rally car? Whether it’s the big auto magazines, the marketing advertisements, or the Subaru forums, there’s certainly a rally aura surrounding the WRX. That appeal is part of why the Subaru STI was the first new car I ever bought, a 2014 Hatch in World Rally Blue.

But the first time I took my Subaru on anything other than smooth pavement, it didn’t exactly feel at home. The suspension is very stiff, and there’s not much ground clearance. Sure, the AWD system is fantastic, but there are plenty of vehicles with great AWD systems.

DirtFish Rally School, based in Snoqualmie, Washington, invited me to their three day rally program. Here, I was able to chat with their instructors and technicians, many of whom participate in rally racing across the country. Over the three days, on top of dialing in driving techniques, I was curious to learn about what physical changes they make to these cars in order to have them properly set up as rally cars, ready to thrash their courses, keep the occupants safe, and maybe even remain comfortable.

And it’s not nearly as simple as you might think - throw on some rally tires and call it a day. There’s extensive work done to get these things to safely and reliably perform on a multitude of surfaces. Check out the video for all the details!

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  • John Thomas
    John Thomas

    TL;DW yes! Especially in the hands of a gifted driver.

  • clive williams
    clive williams

    Rallying consists of a lot more than gravel roads. just watch WRC events and you will see Gravel, Tarmac, Sand, Rock, Snow for which the cars are set up differently. There are also navigational and pace note events. Personally, I much prefer British Road Rallying that combines navigation on mostly tarmac country lanes. This is rallying on unseen roads to a route plotted and read by the navigator who can give almost pace notes from 1:50,000 scale maps and where the driver must have complete faith in the skill of the navigator to achieve the best times.

  • kk

    How well can a sti stock suspension handle bumpy road?

  • Raymond Clinard
    Raymond Clinard

    great vid and agreed, not a rally car stock, but subaru DOES say rally 'inspired' lol...

  • tpFragger

    any car is a rally car as long as replacement parts arent way to expnsive

  • Daniel Hetorilla
    Daniel Hetorilla

    super glad you put out this video and great that you didn't get too into the weeds with rallying since you can go very far into the technical aspects of rally stage setup for those cars. I missed the whiteboard on this though :p

  • Deetroiter

    I feel like the whole state of Michigan is a rally course like this each winter lol…first snow day there is, we’re all out there sliding the corners through intersections, etc with all of the potholes and craters the roads involve

  • Rafael Ribeiro
    Rafael Ribeiro

    Amazing explanation about the car, setups and what we should expect beyond the ads hehehehe. Ex STI driver... But I'm still fell in love. Nice one with a cool explanation. Tks mate.

  • Shaun Hensley
    Shaun Hensley

    The real question is can you rally

  • Tasos Kollaros
    Tasos Kollaros

    Subaru for ever

  • John Jeriz Lopez Ignacio
    John Jeriz Lopez Ignacio

    OMG, I really love how you nailed this video. Awesome content!

  • Justin Smith
    Justin Smith

    If anyone doesn't know the answer to this question Id suggest you look up Collin McRea... rip legend

  • Br fly
    Br fly

    Why can't the subru have a 14 or 13 inch wheels instead of 15? Are the brake calipers too big for 13 and 14's?

  • Jon Durrett
    Jon Durrett

    I drove my STI on a 1500 mile road trip and I felt every bit of it. I love it for local driving, even on the terrible roads in Austin. Long distance trips however is not a fun thing to do. My body was so sore after that I needed a whole day to recover.

  • sutats

    When in doubt, flat out!

  • Randy Gonzalez
    Randy Gonzalez

    Gotta give respect to the trainers… damn way I could be a passenger in a rally race setting with a driver that’s training and doesnt quite know what the he’ll they’re doing. Hahah

  • Matt Schm
    Matt Schm

    Modern STI is Set up for Road use and trackdays. A rallye car will always require some extra work. However you have a quite powerful base car you can use for Rallye. Most Importantly a Rallye car will need a lot of Maintenance compared to a normal road car

  • drpepper03

    Not much ground clearance....have you watched the WRC at all? The cars in the WRC are almost F1 height level.

  • Elliott Beetz
    Elliott Beetz

    This is sick! Makes me want to get out to Oregon. Great video

  • Pol Rango
    Pol Rango

    awesome driving and great montage for the video, really visual i love it.

  • Paul Wilhelmsen
    Paul Wilhelmsen

    I’ve climbed two of the three highest northern routes in my state (and western hard man, which is central utah) and the race still made my palms sweat more then the climbs did.

  • L. Willis
    L. Willis

    'rally inspired'

  • Robert Daniel
    Robert Daniel

    Hope you got the chance to meet Sam Albert 🤘🏻. Awesome driver and person.

  • Moving Forward
    Moving Forward

    Such a waste of time.

  • Rodrigo Torres
    Rodrigo Torres

    12:09 This is the most beautiful piece of footage I've seen in this channel 🤩 (and I've been following for a couple of years) 🚙⛰

  • Jeremy Ng
    Jeremy Ng

    So those air filter actually not helping at all to clear those dust out of the engine combustion . Curious to find out whether they using stock or performance aftermarket type

  • Bumpy Road
    Bumpy Road

    No stock car is apt for professional racing - there's serious work to be done before, regardless the hype.

  • bloodrune329

    Alright, who’s making a 911 rally build?

  • Ross McClure
    Ross McClure

    Rally racing must be so thrilling, but luckily the drivers aren’t crazy enough to take off the COVID masks. That would just be insane. Instant death sentence

  • J P
    J P

    Can a subaru blow head gaskets, and destroy wheel bearings, let's find out!

  • Kukx

    Yes it is, I totaled mine 🤪

  • Y A
    Y A

    Always you have to test a stock car, if that’s the case I can modify a Corolla and make it a rally car.

  • Carlos Martinez
    Carlos Martinez

    Hi, Jason. My students and myself follow you almost religiously. It's part of our learning. My family and myself have been racing rallies for more than 60 years. What you explain here is just how to transform an STI into a gravel spec rally car. I know rallying is not a big sport in the States. In Europe we've been doing it from the very beginning of racing sports, i.e. Monte Carlo, San Remo, 1000 Lakes and so on. For us, who live in this world strongly regulated for almost 100 years, our work is split in three categories: gravel or "forest" rallies, "snow and ice" and tarmac. It would be fascinating to have you doing a series of videos on the differences between those three. The engineering involved in each of them is staggering. An STI, coming out of the factory and very few mods (safety requirements not included), as per FIA regulations, can do all European rallies, as it actually does. Suspension, flow restrictor and undercarriage cladding classify, basically, for most Class "NR4" cars to compete officially for an FIA-sanctioned Rally Championship. The Subaru WRX STI is, possibly, one of the most common cars in that class all over the world, along with the Peugeot 207, the Ford Fiesta, the Citroën C3, the VW Polo and the Sköda Fabia. If you want to drive your car in one of these three different "worlds", you'll need three different suspensions, three different types of rims and, at least, 8 different types of tyres (that's an understatement, but it's close). Most of the times, also, you'll need a different ratio setup for the gearbox. So, one "shell" needs lots of work and tweaks to function throughout an entire rally campaign, even if you compete in one country only. Great videos! and thanks for being an inspiration for my students.

  • Lewis Wood
    Lewis Wood

    Top Gear drove a Bentley Continental GT down a rally track in Wales, a stock one. They got up-to 145 mph.


    Timing BELT on engines??? What are they old engines???

  • AL D
    AL D

    Gr8 video. If you happen to flip over You can start preparing a meal without any trouble. LMAO.

  • Vincent Baelde-Millar
    Vincent Baelde-Millar

    Rally is a race for normal cars on normal roads. People forget that because WRC has strayed so far from it.

  • Hanindito Haidar Satrio
    Hanindito Haidar Satrio

    Ohh DirtFish Rally School They are the first tutorial in Dirt 4 game I will be a great experience if I can visit them in real life

  • Red light
    Red light

    Just build a 4 eye celica

  • Luke Cramer
    Luke Cramer

    What camera do you use?

  • Josh c
    Josh c

    Killed the driving and the car🤣

  • Draken X
    Draken X

    When I clicked on this video I was curious about the differences ... after finishing the video, some how Dirt Rally 5 on XBox Windows app is completing the installation.

  • SkaldLouisCyphre

    Aren't there showroom stock classes in most national-level rally championships?

  • Z-Force Petterssenna
    Z-Force Petterssenna

    WRX stands for "World Rally eXperimental" so yeah, it is.

  • Leggir

    Come to the hills in Canada oil roads. Pickup trucks, Duratrac tires, mud, snow, sand, gravel, hard and soft, wildlife, logging trucks, and other drivers. Speeds 40-80 mph typical. It's as much rally, but with ruts no car dare look at.

  • Keith Chiang
    Keith Chiang

    4:30 I'm ded lols 😂

  • Daniel Aniq
    Daniel Aniq

    *He hits a cone "SAMIR YOU'RE BREAKING THE CAR"

  • Renjo Tolentino
    Renjo Tolentino

    I think if they can modified the crosstrek as a rally car, I would prefer driving it than sti or wrx..

  • Roger Gustafsson
    Roger Gustafsson

    Still don't understand how these rally cars can make those insane jumps and keep going. I mean when you see american race trucks with 2 meters of suspension travel you start to wonder what's going on.

  • Egor Russian
    Egor Russian

    2014 WRX Hachback was my car also

  • Haaris Raja
    Haaris Raja

    Samir your breaking the car

  • ryan sanders
    ryan sanders

    our teams recce car is a stock STI, its fine doing recce at 30 MPH for a majority of the time, but at some events, we break stuff, IE southern loop of 100AW

  • Luca Gattoni-Celli
    Luca Gattoni-Celli

    I love that the instructor at 0:56 has a foot up on the seat, totally relaxed as a semi-experienced driver slides around.

  • Shoedi L
    Shoedi L

    4:14 Was that a vape? LMFAO!

  • Luis Martinez
    Luis Martinez

    HAA the stall had my dead

  • Catfish Billy 3.7
    Catfish Billy 3.7

    3 day rally class? I wonder how many posers have went to that and now think they’re professionally rally drivers 😂😂😂

    • slandshark

      $4k USD for that 3 day course...probably not a lot of posers wanting to invest that much money into not being a poser anymore. :)

  • Bush Pig
    Bush Pig

    Both feet to the floor, don't steer much!

  • Wayzor

    I thought all Subarus came with your choice of a vape, dog, or lesbian.

  • Marvin Eghan
    Marvin Eghan

    There is rally tarmac 🙈

  • Dank Memer
    Dank Memer

    If the rally version of the sti have more comfortable suspensions, why does the street version have to be so stiff?

  • Eclipsed_Phoenix

    So bottom line is 80% of the car has to be revised for rallying... ya don't say. Never woulda guessed that on my own. (Sarcasm)

    • slandshark

      Not at all, there are some great videos out there on how to modify your vehicle for rally car driving. Mostly it's new suspension/brakes, stronger motor mounts, some protection on the underside of the car and of course better wheels and rally tires. That's really the basics of what you need. You can of course do more, but it's not necessary. There are a lot of different 'classes' of rally driving, from small FWD vehicles to the full on expensive AWD vehicles and everything in-between.

  • David Marshall
    David Marshall

    Shoutout from Yakima Washington! You were right down the way from me!!

  • Ivan M
    Ivan M

    G A Y 🌈

  • Derek S
    Derek S

    Very good video. Learned lots of new things! Never taking my stock cars off road again lol

  • Paul Dombrowski
    Paul Dombrowski

    Great explanation video. My son and I work controls for Rally America. We love it.

  • ItsMeZimm.

    Most people just keep them on the street.

  • I_THE_ME

    You didn't touch the shifter too many times on your "hot lap". lol It was entertaining regardless.

  • Jeremiah Shields
    Jeremiah Shields

    Wow you just got me over the hype of this platform. Thanks mafren.

  • NotDazo

    Evo > subaru

  • Jeff Henning
    Jeff Henning

    Considering a "rally car" is limited to 2.0L and a STI has a 2.5L... No. There's more to rallying then just going sideways lmfao

  • sean white
    sean white

    This was awesome bro . Definitely gonna be going to this school next time I'm out west for sure

  • reddeadryan

    Other AWD systems aren't quite the same as subarus

  • Joe Gage
    Joe Gage

    Anything can 'rally' if you don't have to drive it home after.

  • Leo Paron
    Leo Paron

    buy a subaru outback 1998 - 2005 if u want stock rally

  • car scene
    car scene

    You can honestly make your Subaru a Riley car just do the suspension and tires stick with stock rim and slap a off road tire that fits with a thick sidewall

  • Catfish Hero
    Catfish Hero

    WOW! Wearing masks in cars! If there was really a reason to wear the mask, y’all wouldn’t be rallying, you would be trying to survive

  • Jakin Hoffer
    Jakin Hoffer

    “There is certainly a rally aura”. Well, I mean, it does stand for world rally experimental

  • Ross Fraser
    Ross Fraser

    What do the turning numbers mean? Remember hearing those while watching wrc back in the day and never could make it the meaning.

    • Ross Fraser
      Ross Fraser

      @CryptikReap that's kind of what I thought but thanks for making sure.

    • CryptikReap

      Basically just means how sharp the corner is 1-5. 1 being very sharp. Usually hairpin and 5 being wide open throttle usually

  • Paweł

    Double camera in the end make it a perfect experience.

  • PlanetRylosIV

    Awesome video! Love Subaru AND I live in Seattle! Gonna have to check out DirtFish to get my fix!

  • Ink Rollo
    Ink Rollo

    Sounds like you need a lot of money for those upgrades

  • Cole Sisler
    Cole Sisler

    Coming from someone who lives in the Appalachian mountains, and who has a brother who owns an Sti who lives in CO near the Rockies, it’s a great stock rig for sometimes unpredictable twisty mountain roads that can range from very gritty to very smooth pavement. You won’t find a better car that comes stock from the factory for that exact purpose. But I wouldn’t take it in any more harsh conditions than that unless it was outfitted with some or all of the upgrades mentioned in the video.

  • Optical Flow Drones
    Optical Flow Drones

    Didn’t know David Shwimmer narrated this

  • underground legend
    underground legend

    Very very good video,apart from its too lengthy, its full of good information

  • underground legend
    underground legend

    These new wrx s are so ugly

  • newest bear
    newest bear

    Sti or wrx are not. A forester is more rally worthy, sti's bottom out on the lift. A car that bottoms out as much as a Lamborghini is not a rally car. A rally car motor doesn't last long so why would a imposter rally car be any better?

  • american-hairlines

    That camera view was genius

  • scrubby Bard
    scrubby Bard

    Its road legal so 👎

  • Caio Bortoletto
    Caio Bortoletto

    Im honestly shocked with how little they changed the engines. Sure, they used forged internals but thats extremely common among wrx owners. If i had the money, i would do it to mine

  • Orbital Jellyfish
    Orbital Jellyfish

    I can vouch for a stock ‘13 wrx being a ballerina in the snow doing slides and donuts. The brakes act as diff controllers and it’s perfectly satisfying, tho I’ve read that trail braking is ruined by a throttle cut safety feature :/

  • Orbital Jellyfish
    Orbital Jellyfish

    Great video! 👏👏

  • captainzero

    That looks like so much fun.

  • Adam Jones
    Adam Jones

    if, during a rally stage, you happen to flip over, you can start preparing a meal without any trouble 🤣🤣🤣

  • stingray

    That looks so much fun

  • kingpin deblufre
    kingpin deblufre

    Subaru should make rally specs of the wrx and sti for people who want to use their Subarus for where their real home is

  • Sam Haokip
    Sam Haokip

    I'd say this really is a rally car. I mean Subaru marketed it as a rally car and they really know what makes a rally car.

  • Greg Bailey
    Greg Bailey

    So like we all have known... stock subarus are for roads... rally costs moneh... dingus >.>

    • slandshark

      It really doesn't take a lot to get into basic/beginner rallying. New suspension, brakes, motor mounts, wheels/tires and some protection under the car. That's the bare minimum and is more than enough for a lot of beginners. There's quite a few videos about it on youtube. The STI's at Dirt Fish are way WAY more than what you need to start.

  • Serkan Ister
    Serkan Ister

    Don't waste your money

  • alan wyrwa
    alan wyrwa

    Good job, looks fun thanx for then info. May have to visit dirt one day just got to make time. Wonder how much a actual circuit sti has changed on it.

  • Wizardnil

    I got a ride in their STI hatch - it was extremely comfortable surprisingly!