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http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.htmlSubaru’s Hotted Up WRX Sti: Smoking Attention SeekerFor about $32,000 you can own one of the fastest cars in the world and still take the family to the local supermarket, or just revel in the fact that the Subaru WRX STi, even with its 300 horsepower, gets 22 mpg on premium.In fact, your only worry is how you are going to pay the insurance premium. Mom’s view: The car is much better looking than the regular WRX and it is a much racier vehicle in all ways. I disliked the rear spoiler, but when you are packing this much horsepower in a 3200-pound vehicle it is probably needed by those hell bent on losing their driver’s license. The problem with the large and expensive rear spoiler is that it interferes with rear visibility. Driving the car is easy, but you must be very tender with your right foot because the STi was born to run. In fact, it is so smooth that you don’t even have to downshift on the freeway to pass. You can just leave the STi in sixth gear, which is overdrive, and it pulls from 50 mph to faster than I care to drive.I did notice that this Subaru had an abundance of comfy features despite its rich racing heritage. Besides the aluminium hood and functional hood scoop, you get great headlights, intermittent wipers, air conditioning, rear window defogger, and a nimble 34.5-foot turning radius. The interior is basic, the seats very supportive, and the radio is an option. This is a street version of Subaru’s successful rally car and it is not meant for a sissy. The seats are good, the steering wheel adjustable, and the gear selector easy to use.In fact, all the gauges and switches are exceptionally easy to use. That is, except for the shifter. It is easy to shift, but finding the gears properly, especially the third and fifth gear notches, takes a lot of practice. But we doubt anyone is going to mind this kind of practicing. Safety wise, Subaru has front airbags; front seat front and side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, and the best brakes you are ever going to find on a streetcar. You also get, and this is what I love about this Subbie, child rear safety locks, tether anchors for a baby seat, child safe rear door locks, and five mile per hour safety bumpers. Even in a car that could easily be used for rallying, Subaru makes sure that a family can feel secure. Dad’s view: This is a wow-mobile. I didn’t waste any time notifying the 2.5-liter, turbocharged and intercooled “boxer” engine that it’s was time to play because that is what this Subaru is all about.With up to 14.5 psi of maximum boost this four-cylinder engine gives a power to weight and displacement ratios that are remarkable even for some racecars. The result is 0 to 60 times in the low, very low, five-second range. Yes, folks, this is an all wheel drive sedan with a nice sized trunk that is as fast as the much more expensive Corvette. But, I doubt you are going to lose much resale on this model because there is always someone who is going to want to know the feeling of owning a car that can claim to be king of the hill, especially if that hill is
Pike’s Peak.The acceleration is extreme, but what is better is the driving because the steering ratio is fast, the independent suspension is firm, and the 12.7-inch front and 12.3-inch rear Brembo brakes with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution are awesome. Cornering has to be experienced. Not since we drove a BMW Z3 did we have as much confidence in a car and the Subaru is clearly superior even in dry conditions. The tires are 225/45R17 and we believe most buyers are going to change those quickly for whatever use they have in mind for this mighty might of a car. There is a vague understeer when you first enter a corner, but just a touch of the throttle tucks the front in nicely. Beware, that the very large front scoop blocks your view of the apex, which is risky with the very expensive rims the Sti carries. We recommend you don’t practice on the streets with this car because despite its cute looks, it is a true performance vehicle. We took the Subaru over to Autolinks in
Temple City, 626-279-7122, where they specialize in high performance imported cars. The high level of civility the STi showed impressed owner/manager Clay York, who drives an imported Evo. He commutes to
Japan on a regular basis and was familiar with the Sti name, Subaru Technica International.York even made some suggestions on how owners bent on violating their three year, 36,000 mile warranty could get more power from the Subaru for just a couple of grand more. You get a lot to love with this Subaru. The sophisticated all wheel drive system has a centre differential with both automatic and manual modes that allow the driver to vary the torque split for specific driving conditions via a thumb wheel near the console. That gives you six options for your locking differential to handle the 300 pounds of torque before they reach the 17 inch BBS rims.High intensity headlights, a button that enables you to inject water into the intercooler when you feel the need for additional speed and plenty of creature comforts such as climate control with air filtration, power windows, power door locks and mirrors, and cruise control are also standard.Young working woman’s view: How did they do that? Subaru took a racecar and made it gentle without losing any character. Amazing, and that price is unbelievable. What’ s even more fun is the wide birth slammed Civics, Mustangs, and BMWs give you when they see the small STi on the car. But what I enjoyed most was how civilized this Car is around town. It never makes a fuss.For example, when I missed a gear, its easier than you think, the Sti does not stall. The air conditioner cools well, the seats are easy to get in and out of, the cup holders work, there is ample storage space, the leather wrapped steering wheel feels good even in hot weather, and the tachometer gives you a warning light and a beep if you go over the 7000 rpm redline.Trust me, in low gear it does not take long to reach this level, because until you get to about 3000 rpm nothing much is happening. After that, start shifting and stay shifting until your angst proves too great. College-going male’s view: The first question that comes to mind is whether the STi is better than the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The answer is maybe. The Evo has quicker steering, is quicker accelerating, and has a tighter suspension. The brakes are even better.Unfortunately, this Mitsubishi is truly a performance car and it can easily wear on you as it literally pounds the pavement. Even the acceleration grows tiresome when you find yourself constantly searching for the right gear. So, if you want to race, get the Evo, if you want to have the rare combination of a racy car and a great ride, get the STi. By the way, a check with dealers revealed that the Mitsubishi dealers were asking for a bigger mark-up than the Subaru dealers.Technically, the Evo costs a few grand less. Personally, I’ll wait for the STi station wagon and have a truly everything in one car.
Family Conference: First of all, we need to tell you that we own a Subaru Legacy and have thought highly of this brand for years. As such, you should consider that fact that we are biased. That said, the Subaru WRX STi is a bargain. However, it is only a bargain if you need what if offers, world-class handling and acceleration.
We liked it, but beware of dealer mark-ups over ten percent of MSRP. Also beware of the fact that many of the parts on the STi can be used on the regular WRX Subaru making theft possibilities real. The bottom line is obvious, if you want your cake, better get over to the bakery fast before someone else cobbles them all up.