Last post on Apr 18, 2008 at 4:24 PM
You are in the Subaru Impreza
What is this discussion about?
Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Ford Shelby GT500, Car Comparisons, Sedan
Comparison Test: Ford Mustang Shelby GT vs. 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI - So why compare two cars whose target customers are so different? Well, first of all, they cost the same. The STI is slightly pricier at $39,440, only marginally more than the $39,180 Shelby. With as-tested prices within $300 of each other, the reality of cross-shopping these two on price alone isn't an arguable point. (more)
#45 of 96 STi Review
Dec 23, 2007 (10:58 am)
Ok, so I finally am able to sit back, relax, and give you guys my impressions of the 08 STi, first hand, non journalist view, non professional view of it....
Let me preface my write-up in that I've been a Subaru fan for years, starting in the late 80s when my cousin bought a 1988 XT6. I bought my first Subaru in 1997, a 1988 XT6. It wasn't perfect, the air-suspension needed replacement after some time, and this started my work on Subarus. Since then I've been working on them in my spare time and even grew a small side business out of it. My Subaru resume includes the 1988 XT6 Automatic, a 1991 XT6 Manual, a 1992 SVX AWD, 1996 Impreza L AT, 1994 Legacy Turbo Sedan 5MT, and now daily drive a 2005 Legacy Turbo Wagon 5MT. I also have been road racing and track instructing since 2002 and auto crossing since 2000.
Enough of my Subaru background, as I could write for hours about my Subarus and the good fun I've had working on and driving them. You are reading this for the '08 STi info! So it was a fairly cool evening here in the Northeast, a few friends got together for dinner in NJ. Chatted about Subarus and reminisced about the past, past Auto-Xing and the future of where Subaru will be heading too. After dinner, we headed out to the parking lot, very similar to the old days in the late 90s when we would meet in parking lots and look at our cars and talk for hours about Subarus. The 2008 STi was parked right next to my 2005 LGT Wagon, interesting how similar in stance these cars both have.
I sit down and begin to explore the car, the legend, the car that has grasped us since time began! This was my first time getting a close up look at a car long before the general public would even be able to order it! Could this be? I guess after being a loyal fan for so many years I finally got a peek at the future
Ok, so I sit down and immediately I feel that the seats are a tad wider than my Legacy GT seats. The elbow room in the driver's seat is also a bit more, allowing my ample 300lb frame a comfortable seating position. Forward visibility was superior to that of the previous STi due to a more elegant and slender intercooler scoop, slightly larger than the scoop on my LGT but subtle. The dash was well laid out with the GPS/stereo unit placed high on the dash, something that I have missed since my 1997 Isuzu rodeo which placed the stereo at the top of the dash, above the HVAC controls, and above the air vents. Being a driver, this is very important to me because when I drive, I like to drive, and controlling the stereo atop the dash like that makes it much easier while keeping your eyes and senses on the road. Footwell lighting matching the dash lights gave a great accent as well. Closing the door was with a nice thud, and without the frameless windows closed better than all the other Subarus with the exception of my SVX.
The feel was that of my Legacy in terms of the fit and finish, light years ahead of the previous generation. Not quite up to SVX levels, but the SVX cost almost the same amount, in 1992 as the STi costs in 2007. Other similarities to the SVX include struts under the hood to hold it up and a subtle rear spoiler. S-drive is included on the STi, which allows for 60% max throttle and boost levels to provide a more economical drive, which the Sport Sharp mode allows increased throttle response and boost levels above the standard levels. This is a very nice feature because most of us will be driving this car on a daily basis and could use the fuel-savings mode often. Other interesting interior items include VDC that has 3 modes. Mode 1 is standard VDC, Mode 2 allows the brakes to interact, but doesn't allow the fuel cutting of the standard VDC mode. Mode 3 is completely off mode with no fuel or brake interaction. The center differential also is interactive with the usual STi setup where you can vary the initial torque split F/R and lock it at 50/50. Interestingly there is another setting which allows for "tarmac" or "dirt" mode. In Tarmac mode, the diffy will be a bit looser varying the power F/R more so, in Dirt mode, the diffy will be tighter to a 50/50 split. Pretty nifty and useful for those folks who will and should be tracking this car.
Visually, the car is very aggressive with wide fenders in both the front and rear. This is very reminiscent of the 22b where the rear fenders/quarter panels incorporate a wider stance. This makes a very strong statement, since in the past to go from a WRX to an STi one could theoretically bolt everything onto a WRX and get an STi. With this new/old setup, you can't simply bolt on parts to get to an STi. These wider fenders allow for 245 tires as stock, and one can fit up to a 275 width tires in stock format with no other modifications.
So we started to roll out of the parking lot and bam the car takes off. Significantly smoother throttle and turbo engagement than the previous STi with the turbo kicking in at lower RPMs as well. The next thing you feel is the ride, firm, yet smooth. I would say it's 95% as good a ride as my 05 LGT but the performance is about 30% better than that of my LGT. Handling through the twisties was outstanding you could feel the diffys moving the power around but it was all done in a smooth and un-abrupt manner. Stopping was outstanding with the 4-pots F and 2 Pots rear, no wheel locking or chattering or uncontrollable stopping power.
Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to track it or take it for too much of a wild ride. Weaving through traffic was settling and nothing un-expected came out of it. Ride was quiet and just amazing for the performance levels. I think they have really taken this to a new level in terms of performance and comfort. This is the grown-up version of the STi with all the trackable items you could want.
Missing in this version is the IC sprayer which was pretty useless, because when you needed it sprayed you'd most likely be in the middle of a turn or shifting!
Quick Positive Points:
o Great dash layout with the stereo/GPS up high.
o Interior is quiet and up to Legacy Levels
o Struts under the hood
o Wide fenders and quarter panels
o Cabin room is larger than that of the LGT, especially the front passenger.
o With seats down the storage is very close to that of the LGT Wagon, slightly smaller
o S-drive very strong point
o Center diffy control will no doubt make this very popular with the track/rally crowd
o Quad exhaust outlets and exhaust note very nice and classy
o Linear power coupled with a ride quality far beyond that of the previous gen.
o Black Brakes, no more glitzy Gold
o Buttery soft shifter and clutch mechanism
o Tilt/Telescopic wheel
The low points:
o Rear roof antenna is a bit old and could be incorporated in the quarter windows
o Rear window switches are un-lit
o Bluetooth is an option, even with Navi
o No boost gauge incorporated in the cluster
o Manual seats and no heate
#46 of 96 Re: STi Review [paisan]
Dec 23, 2007 (10:59 am)
The low points:
o Rear roof antenna is a bit old and could be incorporated in the quarter windows
o Rear window switches are un-lit
o Bluetooth is an option, even with Navi
o No boost gauge incorporated in the cluster
o Manual seats and no heated seats
o No moonroof option
o No memory Tilt/Telescopic wheel
I expect that once the Legacy Spec B and the whole Legacy line grows in size in 2 model years that we will see a lot of the features in the Spec B get incorporated in the STi as the premium Impreza trim level, the next legacy will have a 3.6L H6 w/6speed and around 300hp. I also expect that in the 2nd or 3rd year the STi will gain power levels as well, since the power levels in this model are on par with the outgoing STi model. On the gauges I prefer the white lettering luminous ones with red needles on my LGT over the red lettered w/white needles on this new model. Look for SPT Boost gauge to have matched font unlike previous gauges, it also has PSi instead of Bars so you can actually understand it.
In conclusion, after having been a Subaru fan for over 10 years this has become one of my all time favorite Subies. I would say that the only one I like more would have to be my 92 SVX, which a lot of the items have been brought over to this latest iteration of the Impreza Supercar. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 08 Impreza STi and look forward to tracking this car this summer. In 2 years when the new Legacy comes out I will be taking a hard look at the 2010 STi, the 2010 Legacy and decide which one I will upgrade my 2005 Legacy GT Wagon in for.
#47 of 96 Re: STi Review [paisan]
Dec 23, 2007 (1:11 pm)
Thanks so much for taking tome to write up such a detailed description. You must really rate with Subaru to pull off an early drive. I noted that the seats apparently fit you okay. This was one of the reasons that I ended up with my third Audi. I weigh in at 150 and have a 30 inch waist. When I test drove the last gen STi, I felt as if I was getting lost in the seat... it was just too big for my skinny white butt.
My local Subie dealer claims that they will be getting one STi in January and they "promised" to give me a call. But I bet that they won't be allowing test drives (hope I'm wrong). At this point, I'm nearly ready to just go ahead and order an Audi A5 with the S Line crap which improves on the already very nice seats.
But back to the STi... I'm looking forward to reading some head to head track and road comparos to the Evo. I believe the last comparo was in what... ? Car and Driver and the Evo had some engine issues. But even with a healthy engine I suspect that this STi will nudge the Evo to second place.
Anyhow, glad you are getting back up to speed and thanks again!
#48 of 96 Re: STi Review [byronwalter]
Dec 23, 2007 (1:36 pm)
Yup, thanks for the kind words, much better was like a 24hr bug.
As for the seats, yeah, they fit me well and are very similar to the ones in the previous gen STi.
Whats the S5 coming in price-wise at? I've been looking for a coupe, w/AWD and MT and that was on my radar but didn't follow up much on it.
#49 of 96 Re: STi Review [paisan]
Dec 23, 2007 (2:16 pm)
The S5 is pretty much going for sticker. The ticket would be to order one with no options... if you look at the standard features, it really does come well equipped with the options being non-critical to the car's handling & performance. But you gotta add in a $1300 gas guzzler tax (if I recall correctly). This, along with delivery, should keep you below $53k.
Audi has provided S5's for test drives at their premier dealerships. You should check around and see if you can locate one. And if you actually like it, be prepared to wait. Audi seems to be ramping up production slowly while they work out the kinks. This means that an order placed now might not show up for at least a few months.
...Just looked up the EPA numbers for the S5 and it's 14 city, 21 highway and 16 combined.... Wow!... that's crummy, and hence, the gas guzzler tax. That makes even the Subie seem almost frugal.
The A5 manages 16/27, which is better. We really need an STi with a high performance diesel. Ditto Audi. During the next few year we are headed for interesting times with respect to petroleum. But that's another story.
#50 of 96 Re: STi Review [byronwalter]
Dec 23, 2007 (2:21 pm)
Wow just looked at the numbers. A bit out of my price range
Thanks for the info though.
Dec 24, 2007 (6:19 pm)
Although everyone seems to be talking about the Audi's now, I wanted to give my 2 cents on this matter.
This matter is really apples to oranges. Before I bought my STI I did have the new Mustang in my list of cars that I wanted to get. The Subaru won, but with good reason. I needed something that was practical, but wanted something that was fast! If you are a muscle car guy, I challange you to test both cars at the track and when its wet out side and tell me which car you perfer! And if that is not enough for you, take them both to a track and race. Circle tracks aside (as to me that is not racing, and dont be mad Nascar people) The subaru will always win hands down!
Muscle car people always bash the rice burners and vice versa. The truth is that they are both great cars! I love the sound of any muscle car as it drives by and drifting or doing doughnuts in a parking lot. Yeah its not practical, but its fun. Plus the Muscle car has huge potential as there is no replacement for displacement (dont be mad Import people).
Imports although not always having the same power as a muscle car, have shown great potential as cars due to the way they have been manufactured lately. The STI is no exception. The Editor of the article said that you can't do a doughnut in a parking lot (as pointless as it is). This is VERY far from the truth with the STI and actually can be more fun! With the subarus DCCD you can control the power of the drive train and push it to the rear! Now do doughnuts or drift to your hearts content! Please dont tell me this is not possible as I do own one and do this all the time. The subaru also has the ability to do doughnuts in place due to its all wheel drive, or am i mistaken and the mustang can and has awd? The answer is no. If you dont believe me please look it up on YouTube.
As far as looks are concerned, I love the look of a stang. It took me a while, but I have also come to love my subaru. It is honestly a face only a parent could love. Some muscle cars are plain ugly but people still love them, not because of there looks, but because of there potential. This is no exception for the subaru. My only drawback to the subaru is the damn huge wing in the back that is a cop magnet. Muscle car people will never understand an import drivers frustration with what is called "Import Profiling". If a muscle car guy is egging an import car on and a cop sees it, the import will be pulled over. I have seen this first hand many times while driving. As for the Stang, is the hoodscoop actually used?
Both the muscle car and import people have stupid people that drive so dont call one or the other stupid for one persons stupidity. We as humans, and mostly males, have a need to compete. A muscle car person listens to the exhaust note of his big V8 and thinks that an import is slow and eggs him on, or an import is proud of his fart can sound and thinks that because he has done alot of work that he should prove his car is fast buy egging on a muscle car person. These are just examples of people that are being stupid. Why cant we all just get along? As a side note, I have many muscle car friends that had never seen an STI and thought that my subaru was a v6 or v8 with its exhaust note and was surprised to find out it was a 4 cylinder! Please dont knock the subarus flat 4 with or without a properly tuned exhaust. It is a very great sound even to a true muscle car person.
My entire point to this rant, is that comparitivly they really are apples to oranges. If you truly love cars, you will love both of these for what they are really ment for. If you want to go fast in a straight line, the mustang is your car. If you want to enjoy those curves or that wet road, buy the subaru!
Thank you for reading this!
#52 of 96 Re: Muscle Vs. Rice? [earthdragon]
Dec 28, 2007 (7:35 pm)
Well written article by the reviewer, but honestly I feel that the automotive press as a whole is biased against American cars in general. I think that American cars have to be practically super cars in order to be liked when Japanese cars are given the nod almost automatically. Don't get me wrong, I have owned both American and Japanese cars, and car quality in American cars was very poor for a very long time, but they are now back and they are the equal of almost any in the world, if comparing apples-to-apples in the same price range. Originally, (in the 80's) Japanese cars were primarily econoboxes, tinny, and small, and bought primarily for fuel economy while American cars were a carry-over of 1970's land yatchs and floaty and heavy barges.
As a whole, Japanese cars have gotten bigger, with V6 engines, luxury brands like Acura, Infinity and Lexus are now dominant marques. However, take the Buick LaCrosse and compare it to the Toyota Camry. In almost any review, you'll see negative comments of one to the other. In fact, they are very equal family type cars, but from reading the reviews, you would think one was FAR superior to the other. The automotive press seems biased toward Japanese cars in general and Toyota is now as large a manufacturer in terms of overall market share as General Motors. This overall bias against American cars seems to work when comparing cars in ANY category, sports cars included. I could easily argue that the Chevy Corvette, and $50k is a world class car equal to many Ferraris costing $150k.
Can a big pushrod engine, such as the 5.7 Liter (350 Cubic inch) motor compare to a smaller engine that has more volumetric efficiency with variable valve timing and sophisticated engine management to produce 400 HP from less displacement? The same argument can be made in comparing the Shelby to the Suburu. The Shelby engine, at least, is a SOHC engine, not an Overhead Valve pushrod engine than the old 5.0 Liter motor (302 cubic inch) So at 4.6 Liters, it makes more power because of more efficient breathing. So it makes power with displacement, compared to a 2.5 Liter motor (half the size essentially), does with a turbo. The turbo evens the game. And I agree, for the price increase over a standard Mustang GT, the Shelby falls short in terms of extra price to performance ratio.
However, let's compare the more base car of each model, where more customers budgets allow them to shop. The Japanese car, without very expensive engine management tuning and upgraded fuel system and retarding the spark timing has no place to go for more power except getting more boost. More boost means more fuel, and upgraded injectors, fuel pump and engine map timing. The 4.6Liter motor can get more power VERY easily with FAR less expensive modifications, such as better exhaust and breathing. So the Mustang is the easier car to modify when starting off from the baseline product.
In the end, a sports car is not about racing the car on the street, but the enjoyment of getting behind the wheel, getting your teenage thrills out of your system and feeling the power under your right foot. Very few drivers have the skill level to maximize performance of these cars, except on a race track and bench racing with words is not how real racing is done. So since cars are bought primarily as male machismo testorone symbols anyway, and to look BAD-ASS, which car looks more intimidating and simply AWESOME? Which car captures a Wow factor looking at it? Which car has a 40 year plus history behind it? Which car says: I'm American IRON and I'm proud of it and display it with honor! Which car is not the flavor of the month but can be looked at 20 years from now, and look as fresh and handsome and intimidating 20 years from now as it does today? Which car can you pass along to your son and say to him: That was dad's toy when he was younger.
I think the answer is clear. The Mustang is the clear winner. It has looks, attitude, easy to upgrade power potential and a legacy. I'll pick that any day over a car that can outperform it on a race with a professioal driver behind the wheel, but 20 years from now, it has no history, no emotion, not love that bad ass ride as you look at it. Sports cars are all about recapturing your youth. They are all about emotion and feeling they evoke. They make you feel young when you're behind the wheel. They get the adrenaline going and they remind us of what it feels like to be alive and enjoying a truly unique experience: the rush of acceleration,the feeling of exhiliration, remembering your youth and that big, deep, truly American sound. It's all about emotion, not pure numbers. It's how cars are bought in the first place! You either fall in love with it, or you don't. You are not buying a Camry or Honda Accord practical car. You are buying a car with a small trunk, bad gas mileage, high insurance cost premiums.....but you are buying for one reason and one reason only: to put a smile on your face now, and in the future.
What car does it for me? American iron wins the day hands down!
#53 of 96 Re: Muscle Vs. Rice? [alexnds]
Dec 29, 2007 (4:50 am)
Funny thing is that a lot of STi drivers are buying them because they grew up watching WRC and the STi from the 90s or had an RS as their first car. The "Legacy" you speak of is being moved across all cars now, not just American Iron. Also with the increase of HPDEs across the country (they generally sell out spots at all race tracks now) these better handling cars are becoming more popular.
I do think the comparo is kinda out of line because these 2 cars just cater to totally different people. It's like having an argument between someone who is a baseball fan and a hockey fan. They are both sports fans but have almost nothing in common.
#54 of 96 Re: Muscle Vs. Rice? [alexnds]
Dec 29, 2007 (2:59 pm)
It's like a sledge hammer versus a scalpel. Personally I'd take the latter. Likewise whatever vehicle I buy next, it's gotta be able to handle winter driving and carry a kayak. In that respect the Subie is multitalented. And at least I do have some track experience.
Twenty years from now all these cars will be dinosaurs as we shift to modes of transportation that are not so fossil fuel intensive.