What's in a name? Pedigree, reputation, past achievements, something important that gives a name value. So when you consider the gap in cost between a WRX to a WRX STI to a WRX STI Type RA, those names printed on fancy badges need to make sense. A name can't stand on fluff alone, so I decided to give these three tenants of Subaru performance a hard look to see if these cars put their money where the mile marker is or if it's just a case of "The Badge Tax".
2018 Subaru WRX: $26,995 USDStraight away, there's some very noticable gaps in price for a car that basically looks the same across all three lines with different things attached to the trunk serving as the only obvious aesthetic differentiation points. The jump from a WRX to the WRX STI will tack an additional $9,100 to the price tag while step from the STI to the Type RA sits at $12,900. Another step back from those staggering figures shows that a base model WRX is $22,000 less than the top tier Type RA. That's enough difference to allow the WRX owner to purchase another car! Surely, there's got to be some sense to these gaps.
2018 Subaru WRX STI: $36,095 USD
2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA: $48,995 USD
You could argue that it would take less than $9,100 to upgrade a base model WRX to perform like a STI, but there's still all the "value added" creature comforts that add around $2,500 to that alone. So even if we figure about $5,500 for the performance upgrades, there's $1,100 unaccounted for. There's our "Badge Tax". I was expecting that.
Outside of the Carbon Fiber bits, the rest feel like tweaks to the existing STI parts instead of entirely different components (like you get between the WRX and the STI). The improvements to performance are the key to making the STI Type RA a special car, but to figure in $10,000 or so (+ those interior bits we figured in) in the price gap goes to a roof, a wing, and some altered STI parts seems like a stretch. I'm not entirely certain how much it would actually cost to upgrade all those things in a stock STI, but I'd hazard a guess that there's a hefty bit of "Badge Tax" worked into that price. I would also hazard a guess that putting $10k into a WRX STI would gain you more than 5 extra horsepower and tighter handling... but that's just a guess.
At it's core, all three are still a WRX. STI owners can complain about seeing their wings worn on "undeserving WRXs", and Type RAs are certainly going to be a fitting sendoff for the EJ257, so it'll really come down to what the owner wants to get out of the experience. If you want something enough, you'll find a way to justify whatever cost it takes to attain it.