1. This one goes to 11
Subaru’s STI takes the WRX sports car and cranks everything up: there’s more power, more grip and more tech, including an adjustable centre differential. If you want a taste of what it feels like to drive a rally car, this is the one to try.
2. (Not-so-) little wing
If someone you know buys an STI, here are some questions to ask them: Is the wing FAA-approved? How quickly does your laundry air-dry when hung from it? Does it improve your cell reception? (It’s standard on the pricier two of three STI models, and not included on the base model.) (Credit for the wing jokes goes to my friend Steph Willems. When you’re done here, go read his excellent blog.)
3. What’s this button do? Oh shi—
The STI gets limited-slip differentials front and rear, and a driver-controlled centre diff: you can fiddle with the latter’s various adjustments to change how the car handles when flung around corners. It all makes it easy to forget you’re driving a real car, and not in your basement playing Forza Motorsports; I prefer the relative simplicity of the standard WRX.
4. Gripping story, bro
Between those differentials and a set of grippy tires, the STI drives much differently than the WRX. It was impossible to break the rear end loose on public roads, whereas the WRX seemed more willing to drift through fast corners.
5. Power play
Despite its bigger engine and extra power, the STI doesn’t feel much quicker than the WRX, and you have to beat the crap out of the car to feel what difference there is in a straight line.
The last STI that I drove was a 2008 model. Where I remember that car having a surprisingly comfortable ride, this one does not. It’s punishing, actually, and as a result, the car isn’t much fun to use for everyday driving. The new WRX is much easier to live with as a daily driver.
7. Big gulp
My average fuel consumption was higher than 12 L/100 km in city driving, and barely better than 9.0 on the highway, making it a solid 20 to 30 per cent thirstier than the WRX I drove a few weeks ago.
8. No hatchbacks allowed
Subaru disappointed countless fans of the old WRX and STI (including me) by building this new one exclusively as a sedan. It’s still a perfectly practical car—just not as practical as it used to be.
January 8, 2015 at 10:59 PM
Interesting take on the STI, with which I almost entirely disagree. I didn’t find the ride too punishing at all, and I’m a senior citizen living in Halifax where roads are just deplorable.
What I did find was a much better gearbox/shifter than the WRX – it’s an entirely different transmission. No rev hang to spoil the 1/2 shift. No wobbly gearlever even when it’s in gear.
In addition the SI Drive (which I have in my Legacy GT but which only gives 40% throttle in I) is mapped so that you get full throttle at full prod in I mode – it just has a much more linear accelerator response, rather like, gasp, an old mechanical butterfly control rather than the artificial feeling S and S#.
Instead of sproinging around like a startled rabbit in low gear like the WRX, which acts as if it were halfway between S and S# all the time, and makes stop-go traffic driving annoying, I found the STI much easier and calmer.
Not everyone needs hair trigger throttle response, you have to learn to push farther on the gas pedal for more powah, gasp, just like 15 years ago. I was not impressed with S and S#. Like the wing, made for people who like to be smacked in the face by the obvious.
The brakes are also better, you get three LSDs, better steering. Perhaps if you drove the two cars one after the other as I did, the differences would become more clear. I rejected the WRX compared to my LGT, with its automatic and all, so they hurriedly brought out a base STI. I really, really liked it, I must say.
I’m a mechanical engineer.