The Best Subaru WRX & STi Racing Seats. The Subaru WRX first arrived in the United States in 2002, and its STi variant arrived a few years later in 2004. They quickly became two of the most popular tuner cars on the market, and they have sold well in the United States for decades. However, some of these vehicles are either twenty years old or close to it. It may be time to consider replacing and upgrading the worn out stock seats with something new.
The Subaru WRX and STi are both known for their performance, but their standard seats are woefully inadequate. Anyone interested in participating in rallycross, rally-x, or autocross competitions should upgrade their Subaru’s stock seats. Even enthusiasts who want more support while driving aggressively can benefit from better seats.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about converting the stock Subaru WRX and STi seats to racing seats. We’ll go over what to look for in seats, what you’ll need for installation, the proper seat brackets, and our top four recommendations for WRX and STi racing seats.
Since 2005, the WRX and STi have shared the same seats and are interchangeable. All references to WRX or STi Racing Seats in this article will apply to both models.
Considerations for WRX Racing Seats
It’s no secret that one of the most common complaints among WRX/STi owners is the uncomfortable and unsupported stock seats. The stock seats leave a lot to be desired, especially when competing with the WRX/STi. For one, they do a terrible job of holding the driver in place during any sort of aggressive turning. The OEM seats have barely any side support and bolstering, letting the driver sway with the car instead of keeping them planted. Anyone who has driven in a car or rally competition knows how frustrating this can be and how much it affects drivability.
Furthermore, many people complain that the stock seats are simply uncomfortable. They do not offer a lot of support to the head or neck area, and the lumbar support is lacking, too. It is important to note that Subaru did start to offer Recaro racing seats as options for later year WRX and STis. However, that was only for Limited trim models and has not been a popular option due to the high price.
WRX and STi Racing Seats Benefits
Upgrading from the standard WRX and STi seats to actual racing seats will provide numerous advantages. Being jostled around the cabin during turns and over bumps makes maintaining complete control of your vehicle impossible.
Subaru WRX racing seats offer more support and stability than stock seats, keeping you firmly planted in place. This improves and strengthens your grip on the steering wheel while also allowing for consistent foot placement. The more control you have over your vehicle, the faster your lap times and races will be. Furthermore, most WRX and STi racing seats are lighter and more durable than OEM.
Subaru Racing Seat Dimensions
Sizing is one of the most important considerations when purchasing new WRX or STi racing seats. This applies both to yourself and to the cockpit of your vehicle. Fortunately, the Subaru WRX and STi have relatively large cabins, especially when compared to many other high-performance vehicles. This means that a wide range of seats, including some wider seats for larger bodies, will fit in the WRX.
When determining your own sizing, you want a seat that is snug but not too tight. Seats that are too big or too small will only exacerbate instability and completely defeat the purpose of new seats. You want to be able to feel yourself properly fit into the seat without having to constantly adjust yourself.
The general rule of thumb for WRX and STi racing seats is that the shoulder dimensions should not exceed 22.5″ and the leg dimensions should not exceed 20″. Because of the side bolstering, anything larger risks rubbing against the pillars or the center console.
However, before purchasing any seats, make sure you measure both yourself and your vehicle. If you have any questions about how to take self measurements, please refer to this page.
Subaru Racing Seat Support, Comfort, and Design
The bolstering is an important consideration when selecting a racing seat. The amount of padding and support provided by your seat is referred to as bolstering. One of the main advantages of upgrading to racing seats is that the OEM seats have little to no bolstering on the sides. The larger side, shoulder, and head/neck bolstering from racing seats is what keeps you firmly planted. The most important is probably side bolstering, as it has the most impact on keeping your body straight. Adequate side bolstering is essential for proper fit and performance.
One of the drawbacks with WRX racing seats is that they are not always the most comfortable. Especially fixed back seats can feel a bit stiff and jarring until you get used to them. However, this does not always have to be the case. Modern racing seats strive to balance comfort and performance together. For any daily driver, making sure your seats are comfortable for the 99% of the time you are not at the track is imperative.
Style and material are also important things to keep in mind. While leather may look the best, you will probably slide around less with a suede, microfiber, or mesh fabric. Conversely, if you plan on keeping the seat for a long time in your build, you also want something as durable as possible so you don’t have to keep upgrading every few years.
WRX Racing Seat Fixed vs Recline
The biggest decision you are going to have to make when upgrading to WRX racing seats is going to be if they are fixed back or reclinable. Both of them offer advantages and disadvantages, and the selection really comes down to personal choice.
Fixed back seats are generally preferred for race/track builds. Because they do not recline, they usually offer better support in the waist and side area due to more bolstering. They are also known as bucket seats, because you sink into them to a degree. Fixed back seats are definitely less comfortable than reclinable seats, but they are lighter and offer more stability.
Reclinable seats are good options for daily driver and part-time track builds. Obviously, the ability to recline makes them much more comfortable, but it adds weight and usually means less side bolstering. When daily driving around town this isn’t much of an issue, but on the race track the lack of bolstering can be a problem.
Subaru Heated Seats
A key thing to keep in mind when upgrading WRX racing seats is the retention of the seat warmers. Some racing seats have the option to add in seat warmers, but many eschew them completely. Much of this has to do with weight savings because heaters add unnecessary weight. However, they are an option for some seats, so if it’s your daily driver that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
WRX and STi Seat Brackets and Mounts
When installing WRX and STi racing seats into your Subaru, it’s imperative that you have the right equipment to do so. There are typically two different types of racing seats: side mounted and bottom mounted seats. The more race oriented the seat setup the more likely they are to be side mounted, but that is not a hard and fast rule. Plenty of performance racing seats now offer bottom mounting options.
Side mounts are sometimes preferred because they place the seat lower and therefore offer more headroom than bottom mounts. However, that’s not always the case. Some bottom mounts can still offer superior headroom and feel lower than stock due to the seat design. If you’re fixated on being as low as possible, side mounts are probably the way to go. But, for most builds, including daily drivers, bottom mounts are perfectly capable of performing.
- 2002-2007 WRX & STI – Corbeau Bottom Mount Seat Brackets
- 2008-2014 WRX & STi – Corbeau Bottom Mount Seat Brackets
- 2015-2021 WRX & STi – Corbeau Bottom Mount Seat Brackets
Make sure to confirm compatibility between your seats and brackets before making any purchases.
WRX and STi Seat Swapping
Another popular option for WRX and STi owners is to swap out their base seats with the optional Recaro seats from Limited trim models. This is a relatively straightforward process on both the WRX and STi, as either seats will swap into the other without problem. It’s another option for those looking to retain a more stock look to their Subaru while still getting better seats.
4 Best WRX and STi Racing Seats
The Top 4 WRX and STi Racing Seats upgrades are:
- Corbeau DFX
- Corbeau RRX
- Recaro Sportster GT
- Bride Zeta III
Here is our list for the top WRX and STi racing seats for upgrades. We tried to balance price, comfort, style, and performance to give the widest range of options possible. We also included both reclining and fixed back options. Remember, always double check all measurements before any purchase. These seats are meant to be universal fits for all models unless otherwise stated, but always check fitment with the manufacturer before purchasing.
1) Corbeau DFX WRX Racing Seat
Style: Fixed Back
Our top selection for upgrading WRX and STi seats is the Corbeau DFX racing seat. Corbeau have established themselves as leaders in the racing seat industry, and their DFX line is fantastic. It features a tight design with carbon vinyl cloth and either black or white piping.
The DFX is a fixed back seat and is best for more track and competition suited builds. The shoulders are relatively broad, at 21”, while the bottom of the seat is tighter at 18.5”. This makes an excellent fit for both the WRX and STi. Even though it is a bit narrower it can still hold larger bodies quite capably.
The Corbeau DFX can be side mounted or bottom mounted, and fits the Corbeau brackets for the WRX and STi. It is noted as being one of the most comfortable fixed back racing seats on the market, and it certainly looks like it. It only weighs 26 lbs and can fit up to a 38” waist. The DFX is not compatible with seat heaters.
2) Racing Seat Corbeau RRX WRX
The Corbeau RRX Racing Seat is our second recommendation. This is one of the best looking racing seats that Corbeau has to offer, and it is available in a number of styles. The seat has a black vinyl outline, but the interior is available in red, green, black, or gray. They also have a really nice plaid seat design available.
Because the RRX has a reclining seat rather than a fixed back, it is an excellent choice for both part-time competition and daily driver builds. It weighs slightly more than the DFX, at 27.6 lbs, but is still 15-20 lbs lighter than stock. While it lacks the beefy side bolstering support of fixed back seats, the RRX still provides good stability and locks you in place.
The optional inflatable lumbar support and seat heater are also great selling points for the RRX. The lumbar support is an additional $94 option, but it significantly reduces the stiffness associated with sitting in a racing seat for extended periods of time. The shoulders of the DFX are narrower, but the sides and base are wider. The RRX is probably the largest WRX racing seat you can fit in the cabin, with a 20″ base and 21.5″ shoulders and sides.
3) Seat Braum Elite-X Series Sport WRX Racing
Look no further than the Braum Elite-X Series sport racing seats to add some serious style to your WRX. The Braum seats are breathtaking to look at. They’re leatherette and come in a variety of colors, including a very aggressive and sleek diamond version with red stitching. The Elite-X series is a hybrid of the Elite and Venom series of seats from Braum. Braum has built a solid reputation in the industry, and their WRX and STi racing seats are second to none.
The Braum WRX racing seats are 25 lbs, which makes them almost half the weight of the OEM seats, and a few lbs lighter than either of the Corbeau options. The side bolsters are firm but not overbearing, designed to fit snugly around your thighs and waist. The Elite-Xs are reclinable seats, but they still have the firmness and stability of fixed backs.
These seats have the same seat size as the RRXs and are made of tubular steel, making them the largest option for the WRX or STi. The Braums are bottom-mounted seats that have received positive feedback for their durability and comfort.
4) Bride Zeta III JDM WRX Racing Seat
Back Style: Fixed
Because we’re talking about WRX and STi racing seats, we had to include at least one genuine JDM option. Bride Seats is a well-known and well-known JDM seat manufacturer in the tuner community. The Zeta III black carbon aramid fixed back seats are among their highly rated seats, and they are one of the best options for WRX and STi drivers looking to upgrade.
The fixed back design provides a lot of stability, and the side bolstering is excellent and extremely snug. Bride Zetas are used in numerous WRX and STi competition cars and come highly recommended. These are true racing seats with no frills like a heater or extra lumbar support bars.
The Brides’ main disadvantage will be their high cost. You know it’s going to hurt coming all the way from Japan. At just under $1,500 per seat, it’s roughly three times the price of our previous three options. The Zeta III seats are bottom mounted.
WRX Seat Occupancy Sensor Replacement
One of the disadvantages of installing WRX and STi racing is the issue of side airbags. The side airbags are activated by occupancy sensors located under the seats in both the driver and passenger seats. You will always have an airbag light illuminated on your dashboard unless you find a way to plug in the sensor. Some people don’t mind, but it also means the air bag isn’t working properly.
To turn off the light on older Subarus, insert a 3.3 Ohm resistor (or three 10 Ohm resistors in parallel) into the plug. Many people have gone that route and swapped seats without incident, but it is not for everyone. On newer Subarus (2015+), the occupancy sensor can be removed and transplanted into the new seats. This video demonstrates how to do it using the same Braum seats we recommended.
Making sure your airbags work is critical for any car to operate safely, so keep that in mind when swapping out new seats.
Summary of WRX and STi Racing Seats
Upgrading your WRX and STi seats to racing seats is one of the best mods you can do for any track or competition build. It will undoubtedly help you reduce lap times and achieve maximum performance from your vehicle. Racing seats can add style and make your driving experience more engaging even in non-track builds.
We investigated several options for converting the WRX and STi to racing seats. The Corbeau options, the RRX and DFX, are both solid performers from a well-known manufacturer. The DFX is a great fixed back option that still provides comfort, and the RRX looks great while providing comfort and stability in one package.
The Braum Elite-X Series seats are another excellent option that will undoubtedly elevate your style. Finally, the JDM Bride Zeta IIIs are the pinnacle of WRX seat upgrades. They are three times the price of the other options, but they provide that sweet JDM style.
Are you thinking about getting racing seats for your WRX or STi, or have you already done so? Do you have any suggestions or tips for WRX and STi seat upgrades?