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T.J. SuperDork
2/13/11 8:43 p.m.

So, for the past couple weeks my non-car enthusiast wife has been telling me that she really wants me to buy a Subaru WRX STI. She thinks they are "cute" after seeing one on a commercial.

I explained that they are in the mid thirties. She said that's fine. In her plan I would trade in or sell my Mazdaspeed Miata and pay a good portion of the price of the balance with a down payment so we would finance about $15k or so. I am starting to have evil thoughts of selling my Mini and BMW 2002 and keeping the Miata, but not sure I would really want to do that.

I enjoy not have a car payment and left up to my own devices I would not go out and buy any new car at this point. She likes the 5 door, but not the sedan.

What are some pros and cons here? I already get crappy gas mileage and have to use premium fuel in the miata and I would gain a lot of interior space, more bells and whistles, and have a faster car that is in most daily driver duties better suited than the miata.

Learn me life with an STI as a daily driver. (couldn't bring myself to put that in the subject line.)

I'm not sure what's gotten into her, but maybe I should stop trying to figure it out and go down to the dealer.

aussiesmg SuperDork
2/13/11 8:44 p.m.

Paying back the principal with interest for years to come.......pass


T.J. SuperDork
2/13/11 8:49 p.m.

I would have it paid off in 2 years or so. Understand the monetary aspect and depreciation issues with financing a new car. That's why I'd be paying more than half in cash, but that's not my question. My question is that I've never driven nor ridden in a Subaru other than a early 90's Legacy wagon and would like to hear thought/opinions on the car itself.

DaveEstey HalfDork
2/13/11 8:52 p.m.

Stay on top of maintenance and they can have a long healthy life.

Subaru hasn't changed the engine much in the past 10 years so it's a pretty well known quantity.

irish44j Dork
2/13/11 9:17 p.m.

If she just cares about the looks, just get a regular WRX. For the '11 models both the sedan and hatch look 95% like the STi from the outside. Plus they're pretty much just as fast in a straight line, and 90% as fast on the track/autocross (more or less)...DCCD and the other extra STi features are great, but not of much use in a DD, only if it's a track toy. WRX you can find for $25-27k new.

Drive an '11 STi and then drive an '11 WRX. See if the performance difference is worth the $7-10k price difference.

btw, I have a 260whp/280wtq stage 1 '09 WRX. So it's roughly even to the STi in power. I now have 45k miles on it as a daily driver (25-mile commute each way in highway and heavy traffic and suburban) and 20+ autocrosses. I find the seats comfortable (if not very adjustable), the features very nice, the car always fun to drive. Only downsides are cheap-feeling door panels and dash, a few rattles (all of which are easy to fix), and so-so fuel economy (I get 22-24mpg in daily driving and 27-28 on long highway trips - same stage 1 or stock).

If you live where it's cold, get the winter package - heated seats, mirros, and wiper de-icers all work great.

Like I said though, if it's just for a DD, think about going with the WRX. Virtually as quick and alot cheaper. And starting in the '11 models the WRX has the STi widebody look, etc. If you're going to do trackdays and autocross, the STi may be worth the extra cash.

What you lose: 5speed vs. 6 speed, DCCD (adjustable center diff) and limited slip diffs (which I only miss at the autocross course, honestly), and the Brembo brakes (the WRX brakes are pretty good though and give you more wheel choices due to clearance, especially for winter wheels). THe 6-speed and hubs on the STi are stronger, but really only an issue if you're going to track it.

Let me know if you have any other questions. The '11 models are the same mechanically as the '09-10 models (the "smooth-body") aside from a couple suspension tweaks.

All in all, my '09 wrx is a great car (IMO) and I look forward to commuting in it every day, even if it is a little "raw" compared to my loaded Maxima that I had previously. And even in stock form, it can run a 13.2 second 1/4 mile (same as the STi), so it can put you in your seat even coming out of an MSM.

LIke I said though, drive the wrx and sti back to back. Your wife won't know the difference, you may or may not, and your wallet will.

mw HalfDork
2/13/11 9:17 p.m.

Autoxing one takes some getting used to, but once you figure it out, it's really fun. I was used to driving a miata that turns in so easily and getting the sti to do the same takes a lot more work. Once you do, you can get on the gas so early.

irish44j Dork
2/13/11 9:18 p.m.

other option is to get an 08-10 STi. They're essentially the same car as the 11 if you're looking at the hatch (sedan only in '11).

EvanB GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/13/11 9:26 p.m.

I think the 09-10s look better. as far as having a car payment i would vote against it.

irish44j Dork
2/13/11 9:34 p.m.
EvanB wrote: I think the 09-10s look better. as far as having a car payment i would vote against it.

I tend to agree, but then again I'm a bit biased

Feedyurhed HalfDork
2/13/11 10:02 p.m.

I had an STi and loved it. I would have it still if a lady in a giant SUV hadn't hit me and destroyed it. I didn't care for the 08 restyle (when it happened) so I bought a Miata instead. Still miss it. It was actually my fourth Subaru including a couple of WRXs and they were all completely reliable and fun. All the things everybody else hates about them ( weird looking, sounds funny etc.) I like about them. The only down side was the insurance costs. I do agree with a previous poster though, the standard WRX would be a better choice for your wife.

T.J. SuperDork
2/13/11 11:02 p.m.

This would really be my car. She would drive it maybe once a week or so. I asked her about the WRX vs. the STI and she (surprisingly) had already spent tome time on the Subaru website and proclaimed the STI is the one. Who am I to complain....other than the cost. Agree that the differences are pretty much meaningless for driving on the street and the looks are very similar.

Nothing local in either a WRX or an STI, but there is a silver STI in Nashville. 2 hours away, but it is a 4 door. I'm interested in the 5 door.

Where do the extra HP in the STI come from? Looking at the Subaru website it looks like the STI has a different intercooler.

digdug18 HalfDork
2/14/11 2:34 a.m.

Funny, my wife just told me that I really looked good in a audi rs4 i test drove and that I needed one in the future, she is now looking at used ones for me...

digdug18 HalfDork
2/14/11 2:36 a.m.

The STI over the standard wrx has a different turbo as well as lots of other upgraded parts, brakes, transmission, shorter gearing, etc. STI is a better car, though if you do look around you can find the one you want used for an excellent price, look out for off lease cars. You can usually find them after a year or so. So end on 2011 I'd say.

sachilles Dork
2/14/11 8:32 a.m.

If you are going to do any motorsports with the car, go with the sti. Most of the critical parts will handle the abuse better(Transmission, wheel bearings and brakes). The regular wrx is a fabulous car, just that the STi handles abuse a bitter better long term. I love my subies, but they are the antithesis of a miata. Driving them fast is counter intuitive, but they can be driven damn fast in a variety of motorsports disciplines.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath Web Manager
2/14/11 9:21 a.m.

I had an 04 STi and LOVED it. I sold it after we moved to Florida since I didn't need AWD here, but miss that car badly. I was taking care of the 07 WRX and really liked the usable 5-door shape, but missed the punch of the STI mill. Now I've got an 03 WRX and it's not even close, but hopefully we'll start doing more project car stuff with it soon so I can catch up.

Also, the 6-speed transmission from the STI gave me enough peace of mind that I could concentrate on driving instead of being extra super careful with 2nd gear. (It hasn't been a problem yet in 5 Subarus, but I've heard too many stories to pretend it couldn't happen to me.)

The new STI seems like the perfect solution. If I could swallow the payments, there would be one in my driveway tonight.

sachilles Dork
2/14/11 10:10 a.m.

Yeah, I've seen the 5 speed thing happen to people I run with that I know are gentle on stuff. It seems completely random, rather than based on abuse.

SilverFleet HalfDork
2/14/11 11:19 a.m.

If you have the money, and are planning to do HPDE's on a regular basis, go for the STI. I have a 2009 WRX 5-door, and I like it, but the STI's brakes and transmission are a nice upgrade. The stock WRX brakes are terrible. I can't wait to change mine out. Pedal feel is garbage, and there's a lot of fade. I'm sure they would be fine with better pads and perhaps some stainless lines.

The transmission is another point of contention with me. I have a Kartboy short shifter and bushing setup, and it makes it a lot more precise, but it rattles a lot and is really annoying. Also, it's definitely not the slickest shifting transmission. The gears are right where they are supposed to be, and the height of the shifter is damn near perfect, but it's hard to shift the thing sometimes. From what I hear, the STI's 6-speed is much better in that regard. The WRX could also really use an extra gear, especially on the highway, and the STI has it.

Overall, you really can't go wrong. I've had pretty good luck with my 09 so far, aside from the endless annoying rattles that I have yet to hunt down. It's pretty basic (in a good way), and the STI is similar. It's surprisingly easy to wrench on and you will LOVE it in any type of bad weather situation.

T.J. SuperDork
11/9/11 6:45 p.m.

Back from the dead thread....

Bought a 2012 WRX Limited 5 door. Keeping the Mazdaspeed Miata and Mini for fun cars....this one is my drive back and forth to work even in the snow car. I bought it prior to delivery at the dealer....didn't even test drive a WRX only the STI, but figured I got the idea. We'll see how the car grows on me as to whether it will be transportation or become loved. The best news is that it fits in the same garage stall as the Mini eventhough it's about a foot and a half longer then the Miata.

If I fall in love with this car I might sell the MSM in the spring. If I don't, I will keep it until it is time to move away from Minnesota then sell it. We'll see. I really like it so far, but the car only has about 65 miles on it.

In the end, I really didn't want to pay for a STI over the WRX and I have no plans on taking this one on a track (right now). I think it would be my 3rd choice, only ahead of my E-150 van, for track duty. The Limited option package puts the price almost up to the base trim STI, but SWMBO liked the idea of leather heated seats and a sunroof, etc. more than a few more Hp and a stiffer suspension.

T.J. SuperDork
11/9/11 6:50 p.m.

I paid a good chunk down on the car and weaseled my way into a 1% loan for 48 months for the rest of it....happy with that deal. Was planning on paying this off early, but with that interest rate, over the full term the total finance charges add up to about one payment.

aussiesmg SuperDork
11/9/11 7:01 p.m.

Pics or ban. Congrats, and the financing deal changes my prior comment.

T.J. SuperDork
11/9/11 8:16 p.m.

I'll still suffer the depreciation, but to me that is a fair trade for having a new car.

Here are some crappy phone pics just taken in the garage.

Here is the WRX pinning the Mini up against the back wall. Mini is tucked in for the winter unless the weather is nice this weekend and I may take her out on another spin.

I plugged my iphone into the usb port and pretty much figured out the stereo/ipod interface on the way home. Have no idea how to setup the bluetooth deal to use the phone....guess I need to read the book on that one.

irish44j Dork
11/9/11 8:47 p.m.
T.J. wrote: This would really be my car. She would drive it maybe once a week or so. I asked her about the WRX vs. the STI and she (surprisingly) had already spent tome time on the Subaru website and proclaimed the STI is the one. Who am I to complain....other than the cost. Agree that the differences are pretty much meaningless for driving on the street and the looks are very similar. Nothing local in either a WRX or an STI, but there is a silver STI in Nashville. 2 hours away, but it is a 4 door. I'm interested in the 5 door. Where do the extra HP in the STI come from? Looking at the Subaru website it looks like the STI has a different intercooler.

must be tough having a wife that wants you to get the better/faster/more expensive car....lol

as to the different power, a few things:

  1. based on most dynos, the power difference is considerably less than Subaru advertises. Mine bone-stock was dyno'd right after a bone stock STi and only made 10whp and 14whp less, and the owner of the subaru shop said pretty much allthe 09+ wrx's are dynoing much higher than advertised. I figure Subaru left the rating at 265 so as not to compete too much with the 300hp in the STi. In reality, though, the WRX is more like 280-285hp at the crank stock.

  2. the power is mosly from a different intercooler and a different turbo compressor (the turbo itself is the same size on both), and a different tune. There are some other differences, but those are the main ones.

Would be interesting to see a dyno of your car, to see if Subaru tweaked the tuning to eliminate the serious lean-out in midrange (which a stage 1 tune fixes). And also to see what stock power you're putting down.

irish44j Dork
11/9/11 8:53 p.m.


The one major thing I would say if you are planning any modding for this car is that the stock shocks are garbage. Unlike older wrx's, we actually got Bilsteins made for the 09+ cars (via RaceComp Engineering) and when paired with RCE's springs (which don't lower it much at all) it really wakes up the handing of the car and improves the ride as well.

That, or Konis of course.

One other thing I strongly suggest which is cheap and easy: some poly steering rack bushings. They made a HUGE difference in responsiveness. Far more than I was expecting. Eliminates tons of slop.

Anyhow, if you want any thoughts on a street suspension setup, feel free to hit me up. I specifically set up my car for commuting on crappy roads and occasional autocross, so I didn't spend a fortune on high-end coilovers or anything, just did things "right" (in my opinion) with selective suspension (and other) mods.

Xceler8x SuperDork
11/9/11 8:55 p.m.

Great looking car man. I looked hard at those before buying a 335i after my Mazdaspeed3. I would've bought one if I could've found one in my area for a decent price.

Enjoy that long travel suspension and great motor.

irish44j Dork
11/9/11 8:56 p.m.

also btw, there is a 08+ specific forum for wrx's.....www.3gwrx.com....so you don't have to dig through a decade of bugeye/blobeye/hawkeye information to find the answer to questions....

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