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Mabuhay from the Clark International Speedway in Manila, where regional Subaru distributor Motor Image has given the new Subaru WRX and WRX STI sports sedans their South East Asian launch.

UPDATE: The WRX and WRX STI have been launched in Malaysia – launch report here.

The Subaru WRX is powered by a new direct-injected 2.0 litre flat-four that develops 268 PS at 5,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque between 2,400 and 5,200 rpm. The six-speed manual version does the century sprint in six seconds before maxing out at 215 km/h.

The Sport Lineartronic CVT-equipped version manages 6.3 seconds and 240 km/h respectively, while claiming a combined fuel economy of 8.6 litres per 100 km. The CVT comes with shift paddles and six virtual ratios (select Sport Sharp mode on the SI-Drive and you get eight).

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The Subaru WRX STI draws 300 PS at 6,000 rpm and 407 Nm of twist at 4,000 rpm from a multi port-injected 2.5 litre flat-four. This one’s six-speed manual only, and it gets to 100 km/h from rest in 5.2 seconds before topping out at 255 km/h.

Badges aside, the two cars look pretty similar, with even the WRX getting the bonnet scoop, quad tailpipes and rear diffuser. However, the WRX gets 235/45 R17 alloys, while the WRX STI rides on 245/40 R18 alloys (BBS items optional). And of course, who could miss the WRX STI’s giant rear wing?

The WRX STI’s frame is 40% more rigid than before, and its MacPherson strut-front, double wishbone-rear suspension features more rigid pillow ball bushings, increased spring rates, stiffer front and rear stabilisers, and additional rear subframe supports.

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Subaru claims that as a result, body roll is decreased by 16% and lateral acceleration is up 7%. A 25 mm longer wheelbase means more rear legroom, too. The WRX STI gets Brembo brakes with four-piston callipers up front and two out back. The electric power steering ratio has also been lowered, to 14.3 for the WRX and 13.3 for the WRX STI.

The functional cockpit houses a flat-bottomed steering wheel and bolstered sports seats (optionally eight-way adjustable for driver). A dash-mounted multi-function display can be customised to show a wide variety of data, including a digital boost gauge. Additionally, a 3.5-inch LCD sits between the electro-luminescent instrument dials.

Symmetrical AWD and active torque vectoring are standard, and it’s of the centre diff-type with a viscous LSD. It’s enhanced with variable torque distribution on the CVT WRX and Driver’s Control Centre Differential (DCCD) on the WRX STI. SI-Drive offers Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp driving modes. The manual WRX does not get SI-Drive.

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DCCD, a WRX STI exclusive, allows you to adjust front-rear torque distribution with four modes: Auto, Auto+ (more power to the front for more traction), Auto- (more power to the back for tighter cornering) and Manual (six adjustment steps). The system works by adjusting both an electromagnetic multi-plate transfer clutch and mechanical locking of the LSD.

In addition, Vehicle Dynamics Control (standard on all models) offers Normal, Traction (raised intervention threshold) and Off. Front airbags, side and curtain airbags, plus one for the driver’s knee are standard fitment.

Available kit includes self-levelling LED headlamps (standard on WRX STI, optional otherwise), two 12V outlets, auto air-con (dual-zone on WRX STI), auto headlamps and wipers (optional on WRX STI) and a reverse camera (optional on all). The WRX gets fabric seats as standard; leather is optional. The WRX STI gets leather and Alcantara seats with red accents.

The Subaru WRX and WRX STI are scheduled to be available in Malaysia from July onwards.