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Best Subaru WRX & STi Racing Seats

Chandler Stark

Meet Chandler

Chandler is an automotive expert with over a decade of experience working on and modifying cars. A couple of his favorites were his heavily modded 2016 Subaru WRX and his current 2020 VW Golf GTI. He’s also a big fan of American Muscle and automotive history. Chandler’s passion and knowledge of the automotive industry help him deliver high-quality, insightful content to TuningPro readers.

The Subaru WRX and STi are both known as performance machines, but their stock seats are woefully inadequate. For anyone looking at participating in rallycross, rally-x, or autocross competitions, upgrading your stock seats in your Subaru is an absolute must. Even enthusiasts wanting to get more support while going on spirited drives can benefit from better seats.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about upgrading the stock seats in the Subaru WRX and STi to racing seats. We’ll cover things to consider when picking out seats, what you need for installation, the correct seat brackets, and our top 4 recommendations for WRX and STi racing seats.

*The WRX and STi both share the same seats from 2005 on and are interchangeable with each other. All references in this article to either WRX or STi Racing Seats will apply to both models. 

Subaru WRX Racing Seats - Best WRX & STI Seat Upgrades

Racing Seat Considerations

It’s no secret that one of the biggest complaints among WRX/STi enthusiasts is about the uncomfortable and unsupported stock seats. Especially when it comes to using the WRX/STi in competition, the stock seats leave a lot to be desired. 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. Anybody who has driven in any sort of auto or rally competition knows how frustrating this can be and how much it hurts drivability.

In addition, many people complain that the stock seats are just plain 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 highly sought out option due to price.

Racing Seats Benefits

Upgrading to actual racing seats from the base WRX and STi seats will provide a ton of benefits. Being jostled around the cabin during turns and over bumps makes it impossible to keep complete control of your car.

Subaru WRX racing seats will provide more support and stability than stock to keep you firmly planted in place. This allows for your hands to grip the steering wheel better and stronger, while also providing for consistent foot placement. Obviously, the more control you have of your car the faster your lap times and races will be. In addition, most WRX and STi racing seats are lighter than OEM and more durable.

Racing Seat Sizing

One of the most important things to keep in mind when purchasing new WRX or STi racing seats is sizing. This means both in terms of for yourself and for your car’s cockpit. Luckily, the Subaru WRX and STi have relatively good-sized cabins, especially when compared with a lot of performance cars. This means that a wide variety of seats will fit in the WRX, including some wider seats for larger bodies.

When figuring out sizing for yourself, you want a seat that will fit you snug but not too tight. Too big or too small seats will only enhance instability and completely defeat the purpose of new seats. You want to make sure you can feel yourself fit into the seat properly, without having to constantly adjust yourself.

The general rule of thumb for racing seats is the shoulder dimensions should be less than 22.5” and the leg dimensions should be 20” at the absolute most. Anything bigger and you risk rubbing against either the pillars or center console due to the side bolstering.

Still, always make sure you are measuring both yourself and your car before purchasing any seats. We have a guide for how to take self measurements here, so make sure to check that out for any questions.

Racing Seat Bolstering, Comfort, and Style

One of the most important aspects of picking out a racing seat is the bolstering. Bolstering refers to the amount of padding and support your seat gives you. The OEM seats have little to no bolstering on the sides, which is one of the main benefits of upgrading to racing seats. The larger side, shoulder, and head/neck bolstering from racing seats is what keeps you firmly planted. Side bolstering is probably the most important, as that has the biggest impact on keeping your body straight. Adequate side bolstering is crucial for good fitment 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.

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.

4 Best WRX and STi Racing Seats

  • 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.

Our Top Pick – Corbeau DFX WRX Racing Seat

Price: $399.00 (per seat)

Style: Fixed Back

Purchase Link: Corbeau DFX Racing Seat

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.

WRX Seat Occupancy Sensor Swap

It’s important to note one of the drawbacks to installing WRX and STi racing, the issue of the side airbags. Both the driver and passenger seats have occupancy sensors located under the seat which are responsible for the side airbags. Without finding a way to plug in the sensor you will always have an airbag light illuminated on your dash. Some people do not mind this, but it also means the air bag isn’t properly working.

On older Subarus one solution is to put a 3.3 Ohm resistor (or 3 10 Ohm resistors run parallel) in the plug to get the light shut off. Many people have taken that route and swapped seats without issue, but not everyone likes that idea. On newer Subarus from 2015+, there is a way to remove the occupancy sensor and actually transplant it into the new seats. This video shows how to do it featuring the same Braum seats we have recommended.

Making sure your airbags work is number one important for any car to be operated safely, so keep that in mind when swapping new seats in.

WRX and STi Racing Seats Summary

Upgrading the seats on your WRX and STi to racing seats is one of the best mods you can make for any track or competition based builds. It will definitely help you cut down on lap times and allow you to truly reach the maximum performance for your car. Even for non-track builds, racing seats can bring added style and make your driving experience more engaging.

We looked at a few different possibilities for upgrading the WRX and STi to racing seats. Both the Corbeau options, the RRX and DFX, are solid performers from a very reputable company. The DFX is a great fixed back option that still delivers on comfort, and the RRX looks impeccable and offers comfort and stability in one great package.

The Braum Elite-X Series seats are another great option, and they will definitely take your style to another level. Finally, we have the JDM Bride Zeta IIIs, the cream of the crop for WRX seat upgrades. They are 3x more expensive than any of the other options, but they give that sweet JDM style.

Are you considering upgrading your WRX or STi to racing seats or have you already done so? Do you have tips and tricks or suggestions for WRX and STi seat upgrades?

Let us know with your comments and questions below!

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One Comment

  1. Great article Chandler

    As was looking for seats for my STI SPEC C RAR 07 and I am 6’2 and 36 waist, and as going to track needed a low seat for helmet clearance and one with decent bolsters, and one a tall guy with broad shoulders can fit into as my Bride Eurosters are a tad short and tight on shoulders. This article sealed the deal on getting a pair of RRX in black sent to Perth Australia.

    I just wanted to add to your article the the Corbeau RRX seats not only do they sort out the issues above they now come included with an anti submarine slot included! this is a very new addition as the sales rep at head office in the UK didn’t even know that the US was making them as I needed a bucket recliner so I can still use my car on the street and do short course track events that require a 5/6 point harness.

    Ordered with the lumbar support another rare item in race seats, and the weight of them is great and compares well to a standard race bucket seat and the fact they have their own Subaru WRX seat brackets that are manufactured to be a direct bolt in to the 2001-2007 Subaru WRX & the seat brackets are powder coated in a black matte finish and include Double Locking Sliders for extra safety was a big bonus!

    Trying to find what I needed above was proving impossible as all the JDM seats are for 5’10 and below with a 34″ waist and below. Recaro and Sparco recliner buckets won’t allow for a 5/6 point harness and don’t have seat brackets to direct bolt in.

    Thanks again

    Justin

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