How to Choose the Right Aftermarket Performance Seats for a Subaru WRX STI?

When it comes to upgrading your Subaru WRX STI for better track performance or a more thrilling ride, many tend to overlook one crucial component: the seats. These are not just a place to sit; they offer comfort, support, and most importantly, control over the vehicle. A good seat can drastically improve your driving experience and performance. However, choosing the right aftermarket seats for your Subaru WRX STI can be a tricky task. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision.

1. Understanding Your Needs

Before you dive into the vast ocean of aftermarket seats, it’s crucial to understand your needs. Are you seeking better comfort for daily driving, or do you want to enhance your racing performance? Your requirements will steer your decision-making process.

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For instance, if you are heavily into track days or racing, you would benefit from racing seats, which are specifically designed to secure you in high-speed situations. Brands like Sparco or Recaro offer a range of racing seats that provide excellent lateral support, keeping you firmly in place during high-speed cornering. Alternatively, if you’re looking for improved comfort for daily driving, you might want to consider a seat that offers more padding and adjustability.

2. Material and Construction

The material and construction of the seat play a pivotal role in its performance and longevity. Racing seats often use lightweight materials like FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) or carbon fiber for the shell, offering strength without adding much weight to the car.

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The upholstery should be durable and easy to maintain. Common choices include cloth, vinyl, and leather, with each having its pros and cons. Cloth seats, for example, offer excellent grip and are generally more affordable, but they are harder to clean than vinyl or leather.

You should also consider the seat’s construction. For instance, the Prisma series from Sparco uses pre-preg carbon technology for increased rigidity and a significant weight reduction. Braum’s Elite series, on the other hand, uses multi-layer reinforced FRP composite for the shell, offering excellent strength at a lower price point.

3. Seat Size and Fitment

Choosing the right seat size and ensuring proper fitment is crucial for both comfort and safety. Most aftermarket seats come in standard and wide sizes, so you’ll want to choose a size that suits your body type. Keep in mind that racing seats are designed to hug your body tightly to keep you secure, so they might feel a bit tight, especially if you’re not used to them.

Fitment is another critical aspect. You want to ensure that the seat fits correctly in your car without any modifications. Some seats, like Recaro’s Evo series, offer universal fitment, making the installation process straightforward. However, you might need to purchase additional brackets or side mounts for other seats.

4. Design and Aesthetics

Performance aside, you’d want your new seats to look good in your WRX STI. Luckily, aftermarket seats come in a myriad of designs and colors, making it easy to find one that matches your car’s interior.

Black seats are a classic choice, complementing nearly any interior color scheme, but you can also go for a more vibrant color if you want to add a touch of personality to your car. Some seats, like the Braum Elite series, allow you to choose from several different color options for the stitching, adding a unique touch to your seats.

5. Comparing Popular Brands

There are several reputable brands in the aftermarket seat industry, each with its strengths and offerings. Sparco, Recaro, and Braum are among the most popular ones, known for their high-quality products and wide range of options.

Sparco is a well-respected brand in the racing world, offering an extensive lineup of racing seats. Their Prisma series is renowned for its lightweight construction and superior support, making it a favorite among track enthusiasts.

Recaro, on the other hand, is a German brand known for its comfortable and supportive seats. Their Evo series offers excellent ergonomics and a universal fit, making it a popular choice for WRX STI owners.

Finally, Braum offers a good balance between performance and value. Their Elite series seats offer excellent comfort and support, with a variety of aesthetic options to choose from.

Remember, the right aftermarket seat for your Subaru WRX STI is the one that best meets your needs and preferences. Take your time to consider all these factors before making your purchase. Choosing the right seat can greatly enhance your driving experience, whether you’re carving up the track or cruising down the highway.

6. Seat Type: Reclinable Seats Versus Bucket Seats

Both reclinable seats and bucket seats have their unique advantages depending on your specific needs, and it’s important to understand their differences.

Reclinable seats are versatile and adjustable, making them an excellent choice for daily driving. They provide a balance of comfort and performance, allowing you to adjust the seat position according to your preferences. Reclinable seats offer the convenience of using your car for everyday tasks without compromising on comfort, and are especially useful for long drives. Brands like Recaro offer reclinable seats like the Orue series, which are known for their excellent ergonomics and universal fitment.

Bucket seats, on the other hand, mainly focus on providing maximum support during aggressive driving and racing. They are designed to keep you firmly in place during high-speed maneuvers, offering excellent lateral support. However, they are non-adjustable and might not be the most comfortable for long drives. Sparco’s Prisma Ultra series is a well-known bucket seat choice among racing enthusiasts, providing a perfect balance of rigidity and comfort. The Advan series from Braum racing also offers a high-quality bucket seat option with large FRP construction for added strength.

In conclusion, if you’re into racing or track days, a bucket seat might be the right choice for your Subaru WRX STI. But, if you use your car for daily driving and require more comfort and adjustability, reclinable seats could be a better option.

7. Seat Stock and Aftermarket Comparison

When choosing aftermarket performance seats for your Subaru WRX STI, it’s also beneficial to compare them with the stock seats. The stock seats in a Subaru WRX STI are designed for comfort and daily usability. They offer decent support and ergonomics, but they might not be the best for aggressive driving or racing.

Aftermarket seats, like the Braum Racing Elite series or Sparco seat options, offer superior support and performance. They are specifically designed for racing conditions, ensuring you stay firmly in place even during aggressive cornering. Furthermore, they are usually made from lightweight materials like carbon fiber, which reduces the overall weight of the car, enhancing the vehicle’s performance.

While stock seats offer a comfortable ride for everyday use, aftermarket seats significantly improve your handle type and control, especially during high-speed driving. Therefore, if you frequently participate in track days or enjoy spirited drives, upgrading to aftermarket performance seats can drastically enhance your driving experience.

Conclusion

Choosing the right aftermarket performance seats for your Subaru WRX STI is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your driving experience. Whether you’re looking for improved comfort for daily driving or superior support for high-speed cornering, there’s an aftermarket seat that perfectly suits your needs.

Remember to consider factors like your specific needs, the seat’s material and construction, its size and fitment, the design and aesthetics, and the seat type. It’s also beneficial to compare popular brands and the stock seats to make an informed decision. Brands like Sparco, Recaro, and Braum Racing offer a wide range of high-quality aftermarket seats that cater to different needs and preferences.

With the right aftermarket seat, your Subaru WRX STI can offer a more thrilling and enjoyable ride, whether you’re cruising down the highway or carving up the track. So take your time, consider all these factors, and choose a seat that truly enhances your WRX STI experience.