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Detroit – Time and time, Subaru has plagued US buyers with a number of super-high performance models, only to limit their sales to the Japanese domestic market. But "Subie" fans have reason to celebrate the news coming out of this year's Detroit car show.

For the first time, one of the automaker's "S" models comes to the States and the limited edition STI S209 will be the most powerful model the Japanese automaker has ever offered to US buyers.

"It was always out of reach and drivers could only dream of it," said Thomas Doll, CEO of Subaru of America Inc. "The Pure S models have never been available in North America until now."

Developed by Subaru Tecnica International, the automaker's wholly-owned series, the S209 picks up a big notch over the already formidable Subaru WRX STI model that is become a favorite for young "hot luge" fans.

"The S209 is the best vehicle STI has ever designed," said Yoshio Hirakawa, President of Subaru Tecnica International, at NAIAS.

And people don't have to guess what's under the hood when they see S209 coming up in the rearview mirror, not with the big fender flares that serve as car equivalent of six-pack abs.

The "S" designation has both fascinated and frustrated Subaru fans for some years. It first appeared on a special edition Impreza model – S201 – back in 2000, with a S208 model debuting last year. All were limited to Japanese distribution.

"The S209 is designed with high performance driving and draws inspiration and technology transfer from STI's most formidable tracker – the WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge, which won the SP3T class in 2018 24 hours in the Nürburgring, marking the fifth time the STI dominated SP3T – the class in the incredible endurance race, "says Subaru.

This year's North American International Auto Show debuts a number of performance cars, including the new Hyundai Elantra GT N Line. But the Subaru STI S209 will prove to be a tough competitor to beat – partly because the STI Division touches all aspects of the vehicle, including aerodynamics, handling, power and what the automaker refers to as "driving engagement".

The new model gets a broad body treatment and adds 1.7 inches in width to 72.4 inches to cope with the cool new 19-to-9-inch forged BBS Alloy wheels with Dunlop GT600A summer-only tires developed exclusively for S209. Look carefully enough and you can see that they hardly hide new Brembo brakes with cross-drilled steel rotors and 6-piston monoblock front calipers and 2-piston monobloc rear calipers that add extra stopping power to the car.

New valves up in front of the aid cool these brakes, while the tail valves reduce turbulence around the rear tires.

To keep the S209 firmly planted on the road, it gets Bilstein dampers, a thick new rear stabilizer bar and a number of other improvements drawn from the Nürburgring racing car including rear and side spoilers and a rear wing. Other upgrades, such as The carbon fiber panels help keep weight down and lower the car's center of gravity.

Of course, the S209's heartbeat is its powertrain and the 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine found in stock model gets major upgrades starting with a new, high-voltage turbocharger and reinforced pistons and connecting rods that help it beat a giant 341 horsepower and much more off-the-line torque.

It's all fed in a six-speed, near-ratio manual gearbox for all four wheels through the Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system. New front and rear differences, along with a steered center differential, ensure everything that the power comes to the pavement, while a new torque system helps the S209 claw through tight corners.

To complete the package, the new Subaru gets Recaro sports seats and unique badges – including a license plate to remind you that it is one of only 200 coming to the US, starting late this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the date of sale.

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