Subaru WRX STI Type RA and BRZ tS are 2018's hot blue hellions

Subaru may have been focused on families recently, with its 2019 Ascent SUV, but the 2018 WRX STI Type RA and 2018 BRZ tS prove it hasn't forgotten about performance. The STI (Subaru Tecnica International) tuned variants of the WRX STI and BRZ will only be made in small numbers, and promise more of the handling and grip the the automaker has become known for.

The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA pumps up the horsepower from its 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine to 310 HP, courtesy of a new cold air intake and high-flow performance exhaust. The automaker also added stronger pistons and retuned the ECU. It's matched to a modified transmission, too, with a revised third gear ratio along with a short-throw shifter.

On the outside, there's a new carbon fiber roof panel, matching pedestal wing, Cherry Blossom Red accents for the front and rear mesh, and lightweight BBS 19-inch forged alloy wheels. They're not the only lightweighting efforts, mind: the spare tire has gone in the name of cutting heft. The STI front under spoiler has been added in, for improved stability at high-speeds, while some trim elements – like the exterior mirror and antenna – are now finished in black.

Under the sheet metal, there's Bilstein STI sport-tuned suspension, with special Bilstein dampers used for the inverted-strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. Subaru has tweaked the Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), too. Shared with all 2018 WRX STI cars will be Active Torque Vectoring and new Brembo brakes with stronger mono block 6-piston calipers at the front, together with monoblock 2-piston calipers at the rear.

There are also larger, cross-drilled rotors that Subaru says will improve cooling efficiency, plus new brake pads with larger surface area. The old Driver Controlled Center Differential All-Wheel Drive system now uses electronic control rather than a combination of mechanical and electronic center limited slip differential control.

Inside, there are Recaro seats as standard, with STI logos and red bolsters and trim. The steering wheel gets wrapped in Ultrasuede, while standard equipment includes Subaru's 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start and keyless entry, and SiriusXM.

As for the 2018 BRZ tS, it also looks to cutting weight to improve performance. No engine upgrades, but there are now STI-tuned front and rear SACHS dampers and coil springs, while the engine compartment gets an STI flexible V-brace. New draw stiffeners should improve steering response, too.

18-inch wheels are standard, with lightweight STI wheels that are shod with 215/40 R 18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires. A new braking system uses Brembo roots, 4-piston front calipers, and 2-piston rear calipers. An STI carbon fiber rear spoiler can be manually adjusted for use on the track, and there are front, rear, and side under-spoilers. As with the WRX STI Type RA there'll be Cherry Blossom Red accents front and rear, along with black-finish trim.

In the cabin, the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is also standard, and here includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. There's black leather and Alcantara upholstery, while the center console has a cast black finish. Lap time, lateral Gs, and other track metrics can be shown on a 4.2-inch multifunction display in the driver binnacle.

Sadly, neither car comes cheap. The 2018 WRX STI Type RA will be priced at $48,995, plus $860 destination. Meanwhile, the 2018 BRZ tS will be $33,494 plus $860 destination. Only 500 of each car will be produced, and they'll go on sale in spring 2018.