5 Reasons You Should Buy the New Subaru WRX, Not the STI: Review
If you’re in the market for a sporty Subaru, you have three really great options: the BRZ, the WRX and the STI. All three bring something a little different to the table and all three are really really fun to drive. But I just got done driving the new STI, and having driven all three, I can say that I wasn't super impressed with Subaru's top-of-the-line model. Actually, the new WRX is the one to buy. Here’s a few reasons why: RELATED: See More of the All-New Subaru WRX STI Styling
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big fan of the STI’s boy racer styling. That giant wing and more aggressive stance just do something in my psyche that channels my inner 16-year-old.
That being said — it’s cool looking for about a week. Then you remember that you have to go to places like the grocery store, and the mall, and that other human people will see you and make fun of you.
RELATED: See More of the All-New Subaru WRX
When you buy a car that screams boy racer, you’d expect all the boy racer bits. But I’m going to explain to you the extremely advanced setting system the best as I can. Get your thinking caps on for this one boys and girls:
• There are three levels of Vehicle Dynamics Control— Default keeps everything fully fractioned and fully stable, Traction mode (TRAC) turns off the traction and stability, but leaves the Active Torque Vectoring system working, and Off turns everything, including the torque vectoring system, off.
• There are three settings for the SI Drive throttle control system— Sport is the default, Intelligent is better for inclement weather, and Sport Sharp (S#) has the best throttle response for the best handling around tight corners.
• There are three settings for the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD)— Auto [+] gives you the best traction for wet and/or dirt roads, and Auto [-] lightens up the steering and gives you better rotation in the corners. But if you really know what you’re doing, you can adjust the diff manually ranging from Low (sharp, tight corners), to High (straight-line stability), and everywhere in between.
Got it all? Good, me neither. This is the most complicated system I've seen in a long time. Unless you’re a pro rally driver, you’re going to have no idea what the hell you’re doing. To be fair, once you sort of figure it out it's not all that hard to use; S# works best with Low DCCD and TRAC, I think. But seriously, no one needs this many settings in a car. One button for road, one button for track, one button for snow/dirt. Done.
Neither of Subarus three sporty cars are comfortable, let’s get that straight. That’s what makes them sporty. But there is something so dreadfully uncomfortable about the new STI that it makes the WRX feel like a driving cloud.
I’m no detective, but I think the 14 percent increase in lateral stiffness, and the 40 percent increase in torsional rigidity plays a pretty big role. Not to mention it sounds like the windows aren’t even properly sealed at highway speeds and the speakers are painfully weak. This car was developed on a track, not a residential road.
RELATED: Can the Subaru WRX STI Outpace a Jaguar F-Type?
I’m not going to complain too much about price, because you are getting a lot of performance for about $35K (price as tested). That’s without navigation, though. But for less than $30K, you can get all the same options and the same gearbox in a slightly slower WRX, with navigation.
RELATED: Subaru Dealers Can Barely Meet WRX and STI Demand
I have to say, I wasn’t completely aware of the problem Subie enthusiasts are having with the new STI’s engine. Where the WRX uses a new and more powerful 2.0-liter pump, Subaru kept the aging 2.5-liter, gave it a turbo, and slapped an STI badge on it. Bros on the forums are calling it the "STY," and I can sort of see what they mean.
The 2.5 is powerful, sure, but shoving an old engine — one that is prone to issues nonetheless — under the hood of a brand spankin' new car isn't ideal. Subaru definitely could have squeezed more power from the 2.0-liter and fed it to the STI. I don't think anyone would have minded that.
But at the end of the day, the STI was still a good, enjoyable car. Can you live with it every day? Probably not. Then again, WRX and STI sales are proving to be some of the best they've ever been, meaning that the Subie enthusiasts still love their boy racer sedans. If it were up to me, though, the WRX is the way to go. Seriously, the WRX is all the boy racer you need in your life.
Engine: 2.5L Turbocharged Boxer
0-60: 5.1 Seconds
Price (as tested): $34,495
AWD sticks like glue
Over-the-top styling (per usual)
Confusing drive settings
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