By on February 15, 2008

sti4.jpgWhen I bought my second Rex, I nearly bit the bullet and went STI. But I like to haul more than ass. So I sacrificed balls-out speed for cargo capacity and bought the five-door WRX (again). The good news: starting now, Subaru's hottest rally-bred machine is available only as a hatch. The bad news: the new STI costs $14k more than the WRX. Is it worth it?

Not from the look of it. I wonder how far the STI's development had progressed when GM sold its shares to Toyota; the front of this sucker resembles a partial-birth Saabortion. Subie designers must have had a running bet to see who can fashion the world's most grotesque cars nose. The STI's rump is also ugly against all odds. Clear Lexus RX style taillights? Yuck. Quad tailpipes? The STI only has four cylinders for Malcolm Bricklin's sake!

sti1.jpgThe STI's side view is the only decent angle. From that perspective, it looks Roger Clemens's trainer shot up a Saab 900.

The STI's interior is a travesty at the price. Someone (Subaru? GM? Toyota?) replaced the previous car's nice-for-an-econo-box plastics with crap. Crap whose crappiness is increased exponentially in full consideration of the STI's $40k price tag. The STI's cabin "boasts" a cartoonishly oversized (or is that MINIshly?) tachometer, festooned with green and pink neon lights, which glows a deep orange-red. Now that's cooking with class! Radio buttons on the steering wheel of an STI? In a word, nyet!

sti12.jpgA big however, however, occurs when you start moving your hands and feet around. The STI's tiller is the right kind of chunky. While it could be an inch or two taller, the metal and leather shift knob feels like the business end of an aluminum bat. And a special shout out to the ideally placed pedals. To me, no car is set up better for the old heel-and-toe routine. While I'd still prefer the JDM STI's racing buckets, the USD leather/Alcantara seats look fly and provide enough bolstering to defend the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Almost.   

Light the fuse and the STI's carryover (but remapped) 305 horsepower boxer mill will rocket you to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The STI doesn't feel nearly that slow. If not for the fussy gearing that forces an up-shift to third, you could hit 60 mph a lot faster.

sti10.jpgStill, like all turbocharged Subarus, the 2.5-liter four-banga is useless below 4000 rpm. And because the new heads feature variable valve tech, the STI's redline has been lowered by 400, down to 6600 RPM. That's a lawn mower-grade useable power band, which explains the constant gear rowing. (I happen to love it, but many won't.) The STI's big, bad Brembos are absurdly fantastic. More importantly, they feel burly, which is exactly what drivers want when decelerating from triple digit speeds.   

The STI's supposed killer app: DCCD. That's Driver Controlled Center Differential to you and me. We're talking an open center diff that sports clutch-type locking. In default Auto mode, the traction control computer monitors wheel slippage and routes torque accordingly between the front and rear wheels. But with 18" x 8.5" Potenzas on 18-spoke forged aluminum BBS wheels mad-doggedly grasping the pavement, what's the point?

sti9.jpgIn Manual mode, you can vary the lock-up from a 50-50 split to a maximum of 35/65 front to rear. There are three Automatic modes to choose from: "Auto," "Auto +" (for snow and gravel) and "Auto -" to route more torque to the rear wheels. After screwing around with the DCCD settings for 400 miles, I'm sad to report that the entire system's a total waste of time. I didn't notice any difference in handling save for lighter, less accurate steering in, uh, one of the modes.

The STI's "SI-Drive" knob lets drivers select from three throttle response programs. "Sport" is the default setting. If you're interested in saving gas, there's an "Intelligent" mode that neuters the engine's power output by 20 percent. While I question the smarts of anyone who buys an STI and worries about fuel economy, I'm thinking of having "Sport Sharp" tattooed on my forearm.

Needless to say that's because the fully enabled 2008 WRX STI outhandles an X-acto knife. Yes, the steering's a bit lumpen, and the chassis understeers at the limit, and the mammoth tires produce unwanted bump steer rolling over the nastiest bits. But this sucker's is a four-wheeled middle finger to Newtonian physics. Einstein, too.

sti14.jpgTrue to its rally roots, the worse the road, the better the STI behaved. In fact, I didn't really dig the STI until I fed it some busted-up asphalt. Then my love blossomed with an unnatural (and sideways) passion. 

So, is the STI worth a 14k premium? The depends entirely on your driving license's current status and your access to crumbling roads.

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93 Comments on “2008 Subaru Impreza STI Review...”


  • avatar
    POLAЯ

    Nobody knows the trouble you feel
    Nobody cares the feeling is real.
    Jonny
    we’re sorry
    won’t you come on home?
    We worry
    won’t you come on?
    What is wrong in my life that I must get drunk every night ?
    Jonny
    we’re sorry.
    Use the phone
    call Murilee – she’s missing you badly
    missing you so
    Who do you know
    why will you stay?
    TTAC is not what they say.
    Jonny
    we’re sorry
    won’t you come on home? . . .
    You’d better come home
    everything’s closed
    Can’t find a COTD
    money’s all blown.
    Nowhere to sleep out in the cold
    nothing to eat
    nowhere to go.
    Jonny
    we’re sorry
    won’t you come on home? . . .

    Won’t you come on home ? We worry
    won’t you come on home ?
    Jonny
    won’t you come on home? We worry -.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the serenade. Jonny is home, so stick around. You might like what you see.

  • avatar
    POLAЯ

    Thanks for the invite, how very cordial of you.
    I’m guessing you didn’t talk to Jonny before extending it!!

  • avatar
    Chaser

    Pure performance just doesn’t hold the appeal for me that it once did–maybe that’s a sure sign I’m getting old–so I can’t get over $40k for such a terribly ugly car. For that much paper, I could have something really sexy in the driveway.

  • avatar
    1981.911.SC

    I think Subaru has lost the “”IDEA”\". I want a fun engine, great handling, no BS, driver’s car, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Get rid of the bling and the electronic nannies. If the interior can be nice but simple, all the better. All I could muster for this car is 2 stars for the potential that has lost it’s way.

  • avatar
    speedbrakes

    Welcome back Johnny. Hopefully that ol’ bag Brock did’nt claim your office while you were away.

    If I was forced to join the “Fast and Furious” crowd the new Impreza would not be my steed of choice. The Mazdaspeed3 offers just as much kit for a lot less money minus the Junior High School boy racer looks. In eastern North Carolina there is no need for the all wheel drive and the roads are straight and in decent enough shape so the 4X4 on road fun can’t be exploited.

  • avatar
    POLAЯ

    $40Gs is a lotta scratch!
    I’ll wait until Hyundai mimics it,
    but they’ll make it look better for $20Gs less.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Hi Jonny, glad that you are back.

    As for the STi, a friend of mine had a previous gen one. I thought it was a seriously ugly sedan, but it was fast – geeze – it scared me to drive it. But ugly – my god. I could not have one.

    As for the current one, it’s even uglier. Fast, no doubt. But i can’t stand to look at it. It’s amazing that Bertone in Italy is going out of business for lack of work, and the idiots at Subaru do not employ them to put some decent sheet metal on this rocket ship. Especially at this price. I really don’t get it. I prefer hatchback cars also, they are so handy – but this one – never. Its a shame too.

    I cant beleive I am so shallow, but there it is.

  • avatar
    speedbrakes

    I want a fun engine, great handling, no BS, driver’s car, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    Sounds like my Boxster S purchased at Carmax for 24k…..

  • avatar
    danms6

    Sheesh, I didn’t realize it’s 14k over the WRX. However batshit crazy the performance is, I’ll never get over the looks. Plus, 40k can buy you a lot of car(s) these days: a decent used Boxster, Vette, RX-8 + Impreza, etc.

    Since the STI will still probably sell well, one has to wonder what Subaru has in store for the next generation down the road. It looks like they are no longer the standard in cheap performance and they are creeping up into pricier territory.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    That song — was that from the Fine Young Cannibals or from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals?

    Furthermore, let me ask this: who would need, who would want an ugly car?

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Interesting review.

    I have an 05 that I really like. No problems except a valve spring which they had to yank the engine for. At the time I bought it, I wasn’t undecided between it, the WRX, the 350z, the s2000 and a couple of others.

    I’m glad I got something fun in the snow (I’m in Chi where it is snowing every other day), as I ended up getting into motorcycles.

    For a car, in the snow with decent tires, it’s just so much fun. This is where testing should be done:)

  • avatar
    cyclopticgaze

    The looks don’t grate on me as much as they do Leiberman, but alas I haven’t seen this thing in person yet. I love the hatchback STI option (well, requirement) because I also chose to buy the WRX wagon rather than sedan STI. That said, there’s no way I’d drop 40 large on a hopped up version of my Rex. Pull out the TV in the dash, lose some of the fancy finger twiddlers like DCCD, no leather, tone down the rice factor, and then most importantly drop the price 10 grand. Then I’ll sit in a show room and chat about a trade-in.

  • avatar
    timoted

    40K for a Subaru? Are they joking? When did they start passing out vials of crack at the Subaru plant? There are too many other cars on the market that AREN’T a Subaru in that price range. Talk about a car manufacturer that is out of touch with reality.

  • avatar
    John R

    Although I would buy the new Evo over the this, I actually like this STI, but not the WRX. Maybe its the fender flares.

    Its nice, at least to me, to see an Evo or an STI on the road. The wing is like a shark’s fin admist a sea of SUVs, Camrys, Accords, G35s and 3-series. The rally whips look like nothing else on the road.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    thanks Polar, I always liked Fine young Cannibals

    At 40K, they are up against some serious competition with the STI and that’s the truth. Maybe DCCD is for drifters who want to play fast and furious

  • avatar
    brownie

    Why does everyone think this car is ugly? IMHO, this is first palatable STI Subaru has produced. It’s certainly the first I’ve ever thought of owning.

  • avatar
    John R

    timoted, If you want to talk about manufacturers charging too much.

    How much did Chrysler charge for the Crossfire? And the SRT-6?

    I also seem to recall GM dealers putting $10-15k premiums on the Soltice/Sky when they first came out, effectively placing it above $35k.

    People paid over $35k for a Pontiac/Saturn with no trunk space and a shoddy interior that couldn’t out corner a S2000 much less an MX-5.

  • avatar
    timoted

    STI looks fine if you like the Mazda speed3, Volkswagon GTI, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix. Other than the powertrain and the emblems there isn’t any difference.

  • avatar
    timoted

    John R,

    I’ll take vegas odds Soltice/Sky or Crossfire/SRT-6 sales numbers over this model.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    Great review, even if I don’t agree with all of it. I’ve also got the WRX wagon. Thus, I’m thrilled about the hatchback being a body style. I love hatches, and my Wagon is really more hatch-like than family truckster. Frankly, Subaru is about ugly. It’s what they do. Ugly on the outside but wonderful on the inside. If you don’t want that, go get something pretty without all the bumps and flairs. In the end it’s the rally car heritage that makes these so fun. I’ve driven my WRX on some roads and in some weather that almost made me need to change my underwear, but it never has let me down.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Sorry, but $40K is too damn much for a Subie.

    I’d live without the AWD and get a MazdaSpeed 3, or two.

    No Sale.

  • avatar

    Welcome back Jonny… the review is excellent.

    As to the ugly face issue, I’m wondering if this hasn’t become the object of desire for most manufacturers these days. In no particular order:

    Audi – the classic oval-with-interlocked circles was beautiful; what the hell is with the gasping fish look?

    Cadillac – Imagine a CTS which isn’t trying to out-grin Jaws? And at least two acres of chrome…

    BMW – special mention for the bangled nose of the 3, 5 and Z-4 (the 3 coupe was thankfully toned down to near E46 levels)

    Camry – Hello?

    Acura – MDX “grille” as a new feature? shame…

    Ford – special mention to the Gillette-inspired three-blade grille.

    Lincoln – Cadillac’s got a great chrome shnozz, so I guess we’d better jump on the wagon.

    Sebring, 300, Magnum – all trying to shout “I’m different!”

    It’s sad when the body-color mouth on the new Malibu, or the original Q45 look tasteful by comparison.

    They all seem to be drinking the same kool-aid.

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz

    This is an ugly car.

    I stopped reading the review when I saw the picture.

  • avatar
    AKM

    the STI’s carryover (but remapped) 305 horsepower boxer mill will rocket you to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The STI doesn’t feel nearly that slow.

    Since when is 4.8s slow??

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    $40k?

    At that point, why not get an Elise?

  • avatar

    its just . . . . so . . . ugly . . . .

    oh, and DanMS6 – $40,000 can buy you can RX-8. But so can $21,500 (after rebates/incentives @ invoice). So, you have to ask yourself – is this car worth two RX-8s?

    (especially when you can turbocharge an RX-8 for $3000 and smoke this car and most anything else on the road, as I did with my old one).

  • avatar
    danms6

    cretinx:

    Yeah my comment had ‘RX-8 and Impreza’ which implied you could have both for 40k. Impreza for daily driver and RX-8 for the track which makes much more sense in my opinion.

  • avatar
    crc

    A coworker just traded in his old STI for this new one. To me it looks better in person than in the pictures I had seen previously.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Another downside to this car: even if it was affordable as a 2-year old, would you buy one used?

    (if you didn’t know the responsible elderly previous owner)?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Is the Mitsu EVO available as a wagon? That’s a great looking car IMHO, but this is close to Pontiac Aztek ugly.

    I echo so many other’s reaction to 40k. Isn’t that more than a G37?

  • avatar
    brownie

    I repeat: it’s not ugly. When was it decided that every car enthusiast is supposed to hate a nice simple high-performance hatchback, and why didn’t I get the memo?

    As for why not just buy (car X) for the price, why not just by 6 Lincoln Town Cars for 1 Bentley? This is a 4 door hatchback that goes like stink. If you’re cross-shopping it against an Elise, fine, but I’m not.

  • avatar
    danms6

    brownie:

    Looks aside, every car enthusiast doesn’t hate nice simple high-performance hatchbacks. A not-really-nice-or-simple hatchback based on a $16k car that costs $40k is a lot to ask for though.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Great review, in the 800 word limit Johnny has given us a very good concise overview of what an STi is like to live with. Right to the point with both the good and bad with no bias.

    Now I cant understand how a group of higher-performacne car-nuts could find the STi ugly!

    I sorry but this thing looks rather badass in the same way as such rides like the Audi Quattro, Cosworth Sierra, 1988 M3, and Renult R2. Its looks are part and parcel of its appeal. This is what an econo-box is supposed to look like if it is really set up for high performance. If you do not get it you do not understand it so move on. THE STi is a RALLY CAR!
    Hugh wheels, Fender flares, Real scoops and vents, a REAL wing/spoiler, enlarged exhaust pipes, yeah it may be a bit over the top for some but so is a 911 GT2 or GT3.

    There is no comparison between the STi and a Mazdaspeed3. All you need to do is drive both back to back and you will quickly find that the Mazdaspeed3 is seriously lacking in comparison. The STi behaves like a true high performance car while the MAzdaspeed3 behaves like a hot-rodded econo-box. Just like with the Evo and the Eclipse/ Celica All-tracs before it IS the AWD that makes these cars what they are. Remove the AWD and all you have is an over-powered funny-handling FWD car.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Nice car, I get it. Fast and ugly enough to attract a certain buyer. What a great car to have.
    But its a small hatch back that gets under 20 mpg and costs 40k. Yesterday a lot of people beat up the Acadia for being a vehicle that shouldn’t exist in todays world. WELL??

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    FYI, the EVO does have a hatch version which looks quite nice from the pics, just not sure if this version will grace our shores.

    The STI is a great performace package for $40k, but if they want a broader audience, it has to be the whole package, which means a respectable interior for a $40k car and half way decent looks. Nothing worse than riding in a $40 car that looks like a $25k hot hatch. Not happening

  • avatar
    blautens

    Once upon a time, I was *this* close to buying a WRX. I didn’t fit in it. Nevertheless, I still looked at them longingly. Then they got uglier. And uglier. This one is seriously fugly. But that’s entirely subjective.

    Performance isn’t, though – so I do wonder, however, how a WRX and a few grand of your typical tuner mods would stack up against this $40k STI. Would that be a smarter buy?

    Perhaps someone well versed in the Subie tuner community could comment?

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The price of the STi makes sense the same way the proposed price of the up and coming challanger SRT-8 makes sense. Think about it like this, it would cost more than $14,000 to make a stock WRX perform at the same level as an STi. Remember we are talk ing about the very limited additon STi here. If Subaru had upgraded the regular Impreza to a $30,000+ car, that would not make any sense because no one wants a $30,000 impreza but there are a enough interested parties for a $40,000 STi to make sense.

    Now lets name all of the cars that cost $40,000 that can out-perform an STi?
    1. EVO
    2. 135i
    I have just named two cars that can EQUAL the performance!

  • avatar
    wsn

    Juniper said:
    But its a small hatch back that gets under 20 mpg and costs 40k. Yesterday a lot of people beat up the Acadia for being a vehicle that shouldn’t exist in todays world.

    Tell me, which 4.8s 0-60 car is cheaper and has significantly better fuel economy?

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    whatdoiknow1;

    when you say ford sierra cosworth, I think you mean the RS500 the best group A racecar (until the R32 skyline)but not being 4wd not that good for rallying for that you would need the Group B RS200

    the STi looks much better in the metal and as for crumbling roads, would Chicago roads in winter count?

    $40k. it might hard to convince the mrs about the need.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Call it another victim of the falling dollar but $40K for a hot hatch is a little too much (not even mentioning the insurance premiums). There are a lot of very tasty after market parts for the WRX that that will get it close to the STi performance without a second mortgage.

    If I was going to spend $40K I would be more inclined towards a BMW 135 or 335. Better resale value, great tuning ability and less police attention.

  • avatar
    wsn

    whatdoiknow1, BWM 135i is not a good comparison. I am quite certain that people buying a 4dr hatchback won’t consider a couple.

  • avatar
    AKM

    I repeat: it’s not ugly. When was it decided that every car enthusiast is supposed to hate a nice simple high-performance hatchback, and why didn’t I get the memo?

    Just like Jonny, I love the hatchback variant of most cars. More practical, slightly better handling. I drool over the rally focus, C30, GTI, and so on. But the subaru is ugly. It’s even uglier in sedan variant.
    If it was cheaper, I’m sure people would get over its looks, like they did for previous versions, but unfortunately, the price tag is quite steep.

    I’d still consider a WRX, though.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    Great review Jonny and so good to have you back!
    I just hopped over to Subi’s site and the base price of the STI is listed at $34995. Was the 40K listed in the review for a fully loaded STI or is does it incorperate a dealer markup?

    At 40K an STI would compete directly with a 335 WITH all-wheel drive. Go for the rear wheel drive 335 and you save about 2K over the STI.

  • avatar
    peakay

    Nice review. I almost bought a Rex after digesting and learning to “like” the original bug-eyed styling. Then it changed. Then it changed again. Then they came out with the world’s first FUV (flying utility vagina). Now they go a completely different direction again on the Rex.

    Subaru is now completely out of my consideration set…

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    - the Ford Focus called and its wants it front bumper back.

    - on a serious note…whats the point of this car? in real world driving can you really use it? about a year ago i was in the market for a hot-hatch. When it came down to having to sign my life away for the next few years all those 0-60 times i had memorized didnt seem as important. i feel the novelty would wear off quickly.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Shame about the plastics. Everytime I look at a subaru, they always give me something to justify walking away. Last time it was no car with traction control under 32k. At the low end the plastics can be forgiven, but at the STI price?

    I would like a subaru. I would really like to try and perhaps buy a diesel subaru.

    The outback could work in diesel because the gas mileage would be decent enough. Otherwise, it’s not tall enough for our floods.

    We really do not need AWD on the Gulf coast. I wonder how they sell enough here to keep a dealer in business. If they made a RWD version of the Impreza, I might buy one as a second or third car. Perhaps a sport version like the WRX with less obvious steroid use.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The article mentions needing 3rd gear to reach 60, but also that the power band is very narrow. So, if the gearing were just tall enough to reach 60 in 2nd, would the 0-60 figure be any better? You would be gaining time by not having the additional shift but you would potentially spend time in the engines RPM dead spot.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    $40k car w/a $14k car interior? Why not dump another grand or two into the interior and make it a class leader? It’s not like the buyer for this thing is gonna care about the price difference…just put in a few more hours a week at that second job delivering pizzas. I’m pretty sure Subaru requires that on the credit app…along w/the boxes “No girlfriend,” “Apartment lease” and “Age 25-29″ all checked yes.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    - on a serious note…whats the point of this car? in real world driving can you really use it? about a year ago i was in the market for a hot-hatch. When it came down to having to sign my life away for the next few years all those 0-60 times i had memorized didnt seem as important. i feel the novelty would wear off quickly.

    As STi or an EVO are so NOT about 0 to 60 times that if you dont understand it would be hard to explain. In the real world these are the FUN high-performance cars of today. A Mustang or the new Challanger will be all about 0 to 60 and 1/4 mile times. An Sti is all about handling with a serious punch of power thrown into the mix. These babies are just as fun doing tricks at 30 to 40mph as they are blasting down the highway at over 100+ mph. Try an Auto-Cross in a Corvette and than do it in an STi and you will begin to understand the appeal of a high-powered, light-weight, AWD compact car.

    Unlike a 911 or Boxster, an STi does not look silly with a ski or bike rack installed on the roof. You can also transport just about anything short of a full sized household appliance with the hatchback and foldable rear seats. Oh, it seat 4 adults in comfort.

    While many will find it ugly and most chicks wont understand it, the dudes and chicks that do get it (I know of two fine women that drive WRXs) will know that you do have a very special ride.
    An STi will get you the thumbs up from any real enthusaist.
    Unfortunately the STi is NOT a car you can sell your Mrs. on unless she GETS it!

  • avatar
    RGS920

    Try an Auto-Cross in a Corvette and than do it in an STi and you will begin to understand the appeal of a high-powered, light-weight, AWD compact car.

    This car is far from light-weight. It tips the scale at 3400 Lbs which is 100 LBS more than the previous gen. A new Vette weighs in at 200 LBS less than the new STI.
    You run into problems with weight quickly when you incorperate AWD systems, meet safety and crash test standards, and start compromising performance for luxery which subi has started to do. I’d take a 1st gen Miata over an STI in an Autocross.

    An STi will get you the thumbs up from any real enthusaist.
    Meh, i’d give the thumbs up to a previous gen STI over this fatty.
    Subi should take a page from Mazda’s development of the new MX5 and start doing what they can to reduce the weight.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Can’t I get a used Elise + a beater Audi A4 for $40k??? I know that for $20k I can build any number of cars that are a lot more agressive than an STI. If we put safety on pause one could have a miata based westfield and something new & sensible to daily drive or something a bit nicer and CPO in addition to said westfield. The STI is likely to pose no threat to a car like a westfield on a road course.

    I just don’t see the point in a $40k hot hatch which begs to me modded. Modification is a red brick road headed directly into voided warranty territory which voids the argument for buying the car because it has a warranty. Also I’d prefer my toy car to be paid for before I track it (what one ought to do with a toy car like a modded STI). That whole paid for status makes it easier to get over the car if and when it gets stuffed.

  • avatar
    Wheely

    Unlike a 911 or Boxster, an STi does not look silly with a ski or bike rack installed on the roof.

    Not sure what the definition of looking silly is, but I think a couple of mountain bikes on a convertible 911 or Boxter roofrack look just fine. A kayak may be pushing the limits though.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    @ whatdoiknow1:

    You have identified the natural enemy of the subie, any subie, the mrs.

    Cheers to the driver, who finds another driver and makes her the Mrs. May their children ride in hatchbacks and always look out the side window to see the road ahead.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    if a porsche owner uses the car that much then two thumbs up to them in my book. i dont see the point in buying a 40k car that is at its element on the track but during daily driving will make you suffer with a harsh ride and shitty MPG. I ended up buying a MKV GTI and its very well rounded machine. its not the fastest, but i get 33mpg on the highway and i have 15k in my pocket over an STI which on real roads probably isnt much faster.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    i wonder what would happen if they took a WRX. stuck in a better suspension, an aluminum hood and fenders. and maybe a light weight flywheel and sport exhaust. some recaro seats and sold that as the STI. if they could keep it at $30k it would surly do good.

  • avatar
    bleach

    With a $14K separation between STI and regular WRX, they definitely have room for something in between.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    and always look out the side window to see the road ahead.

    BEAUTIFUL!

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Unfortunately the sales picture is not that good
    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2008/02/01/076504.html

  • avatar
    mrcrispy

    Clarkson’s review -
    http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article3209571.ece

    Pure comedy gold (as usual) but every word is true.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    I think for that kind of dough I’d rather buy a Saab 9-3 XWD, or whatever they are calling their new performance model.

    Also, is it still STI, or did they revert back to STi?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    SunnyvaleCA
    The article mentions needing 3rd gear to reach 60, but also that the power band is very narrow. So, if the gearing were just tall enough to reach 60 in 2nd, would the 0-60 figure be any better? You would be gaining time by not having the additional shift but you would potentially spend time in the engines RPM dead spot.

    I’m not sure how much the gearing on the STI compares to the LGT, but on the LGT Subaru went from a five speed to a six speed in the last year or so. In order to do that, Subaru just narrowed the gearing, meaning that you’re basically shifting more on your way up. So the older LGTs are a hair faster than their counterparts with six speeds because of that extra shift required to make it to 60 — the five speed ones will *just* hit 60 in 2nd gear. But there’s no real advantage… not like you get better gas mileage or anything like that, you just get to say you’re driving a six speed. Hope that sheds some light on your question… like I said, that’s the case with the LGT and it’s probably very similar to the case with the STI.

    (speaking of which, Subaru officially switched to STI, not STi, in 2006)

  • avatar
    DoctorNine

    I have to agree with the other posters. The price seems a bit steep, especially when you consider a base BMW 135i costs less. No doubt this Subie is the schnizzle, but the price, my oh my.

  • avatar
    akirachan

    Hey Johnny, Jalop ain’t da same no mo.

    I think I’m gonna wait on the whole WRX vs. STI thang: Either does not look right to me. I will wait till they do some redesigning of the nose and the tail at least. Maybe then it will grow on me. 14k premium doesn’t seem worth it to me now. Either way, time will tell. Till then I’ll just be happy in my 06 wrx wagon.

  • avatar

    Nice one, Jonny. I’m especially happy to see I’m not the only one who finds the new interior inferior to the old one. The magazines keep tripping over each other praising the supposed major upgrade. And I can’t believe we’re looking at the same wall of cheap blobby polymers.

    I am a bit confused by the alleged goodness on nasty pavement. Are you saying the STI actually rides well now? Or that it rides as badly as ever, but doesn’t get thrown off its line?

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Maybe I’m just use to seeing japnese tuner cars with ostentatious styling, but I don’t think it looks bad. I certainly like it more than the EVO X at the moment. I thought every new ferrari that came out since 1999 was ugly, but the looks always grew on me. the fact I actually like half of the Bangleized BMWs should give you an idea on what I find aesthetically pleasing.

    My qualms with the STI are the throttle control gimmicks, the useless user-selected DCCD settings (DCCD seems to work the best on auto) and the relatively low redline. And the price, because it means I can’t afford one.

  • avatar
    nino

    You can argue the price, but rally bred cars are SUPPOSED to look ugly.

    Go take a look at the old “Killer Bs”, especially the Lancia Integrale. Talk about a homely beast that will take a bite out your ass quicker than you can blink. That car killed two people in one year of competition.

    Leave the pretty for the exotics.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Good news Subaru fans! The mother ship has helped you make up your mind between the WRX and STI by making the new WRX suck so bad, it’s STI or Mazdaspeed 3 you have to think about.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Great review.

    Johnny, you’re the only reviewer I’ve seen that mentions the atrocious interior quality of the new WRX/STI and Impreza. Everyone else repeats the Subaru press release which goes on about the upgraded interior. Are people blind? Do they have no knuckles for the “rap” test? And the interior styling… Whose nightmare is this?

    I happened to be at my Subaru dealer last August when the first 08 WRXs and regular Imprezas were unloaded from the semi.

    My own Impreza was aged 10, no problems. I had saved (being an oldster) and could afford a WRX on the spot. Sat in it. Seat too low to the floor. Back seat way too close to the floor. Back seat fold down hinge right where your upper butt wants to be. Yes I often ride in the back on long trips with extra drivers. Interior a great plastic swath of hard crap. Everywhere. Door panels a testament to the one piece plastic moulder’s art, and I haven’t seen any of them nominated for sainthood yet. Makes a Chrysler product look acceptable.

    I wanted an auto, because I’m old, hate the Subaru gearshift, (I have a ’90 AWD Talon turbo for hooning with just 45K miles on it) and because the old auto WRX had the VTD planetary center differential, and an LSD rear diff, plus VDC. The new one? $20 worth of electronics for VDC/traction control, no center diff (just the old 4 speed auto fitted to the cheapest Impreza but with a new name) and no LSD at the rear. Basically, craptastic. Mark my words, the new 09 Forester XT will be similarly decontented, I’ll bet. They seem to think nobody will notice.

    Exterior. Barely acceptable. The new doors with frames just about removed my left eye when I opened the driver’s door. That’s a sharp point, so watch out for that. Overall, never been so disappointed in my entire life. This vehicle was removed from my possible purchase list on the spot.

    Here in Canada, they had a few 08 Legacy GT Limiteds going for $700 LESS than the WRX last month, if you managed to see the fine print on the Subaru website. Almost down to the US price.

    Guess what I’m driving now… I love it, and after 6 months of training may remember where all the controls are! The paddle shifters are great, the manumatic on the console less so (the up and down positions are backwards to me – only Mazda and BMW get it right). Rumors are that the LGT is kaput for ’09 so I’m very glad I got this one. She be smooth, quick and comfy, with amazing traction on pure ice. Plus it’s actually handsome in an understated way. The interior is just fine.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy your STI, though. At least it has killer performance. Meanwhile, has Subaru lost the plot? Apparently so. I hope they stay in business long enough to honor my warranty.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Johnny, Really glad you’re back. And re-entry via writing a review of what will be my next birthday present to …myself.

    I was at my dealer’s a couple of weeks ago, the day after their first one came in. Red: ticket magnet, no thanks. But it looks better in person than on film.

    What’s interesting to me is that the weight distribution is a wrinkle free LL Bean button down-esque 60/40. Wow! That makes me think that this thing may not be so great when it gets wet – or snowy. Unless I can toss the rear around like my name is Petter. It isn’t. I can’t. A tree and my first LGT in the Rhode Island woods several years ago proved that…even with the Pirelli snows.

    So what are your thoughts about that nose-heavy-ness?

    One car is all I have room for. THe hatch makes sense and it won’t look too bad with a bike rack on top. But what about that weight distribution?

  • avatar
    ZCline

    Do my eyes deceive me? Is this the first TTAC review with pictures of the actual vehicle tested, instead of press photos? Nice!

  • avatar
    huy

    the STI 6-speed is a variant of the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) version. In Japan, they get a 2.0L Turbo engine that rev’s up to 8000rpms stock. if you do the math you will see that 2nd gear does reach 60mph and the whole package works better together. despite Subaru NA’s efforts to tweak the gear ratio’s slightly, its still not a perfect match for the 2.5L Turbo in the STI, which has a lower redline. Subaru NA is worthless… if the EVO can come here unmolested, so should the STI.

  • avatar
    tsgtsfitz

    Finally someone speaks the truth about the new and improved Subaru interiors. I have a 06 Legacy and it has the worse interior of all the Japanese cars (and at least one American one) I have ever owned. There have been multiple trips to the dealerships to refit panels and troubleshoot various rattles to name a couple of things. Thank goodness for the warranty (that unfortunately expires soon at 36k). While on one of my many trips to the dealer for service I stuck my head inside the new STI. My God! It looked even cheaper than the Legacy.

    I will probably use it as a beater car when the warranty expires if the interior continues to fall apart or get rid of it and go back to Acura.

  • avatar

    Is it better than the VW R32?

    I drove that a few weeks ago and it was amazing.
    And $33 000.

  • avatar
    MPLS

    40k? What is Subaru smoking?

  • avatar
    andy777

    Ugly? Are you joking?

    This thing reminds me of the 1981 Audi Quattro– you know the one, Michelle Mouton, Group B, Walter Rohl, Pike’s Peak, crowds scattering, two wheels over the edge, flames from the back. Dog-ugly interior.

    Look, styling has gotten seriously wussified lately. If I see another useless crease or shiny sill plate or “statement” front grille on a car I’ll puke. Form follows function, anyone?

    I think I want one.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    @andy777

    +1

    ;)

  • avatar
    Lesley

    Handsome is as handsome does…

    Loverman!
    You’re back!

  • avatar
    rtz

    Side and rear views look like a Ford Focus. Overpriced for what it is. A Jeep Rubicon situation. It’s price and all time ugly looks are really going to crimp sales.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    http://www.autoblog.com/photos/2008-proton-r3-satria/647739/

    Look at this pic. Are they similar?

  • avatar
    Threader

    The repeatedly quoted price of $40,000 for the STI is slightly skewed and an unfair comparison when inserting base price for comparison cars. Try a little fair play by eg. quoting a fully optioned BMW 135i which BTW can only be had in RWD, if your going to be insisting on a $40,000 Subaru STI asking price.

    News Flash – $40,000 is not the STI base price and $40,000 is also the wrong price for a fully factory optioned STI.

    Subaru Impreza WRX STI Base MSRP: $34,995.00

    Factory Fully optioned: BBS Wheels, Navigation & Fog lights, MSRP: $38,795.00

    Needless to say but Destination & Delivery is an additional $645

    The Base STI can easily be had for invoice $33,010 and worth every damn penny.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Subaru has adjusted it’s prices it appears. Now the gap between the USA and Canadian price is even more rediculous. $45,000 for the base in Canada, navi and DVD are standard though, there is no stripper package.

  • avatar
    Threader

    Careful there. There are Duties of 6.1% on Impreza STI because it is built in Japan. Also Canadian 2008 STI comes standard with Cold Weather package. Heated Wipers, heated side Mirrors and heated Front seats. What is absolutely lamentable though at Canadian Subaru Dealers is the huge markup on Destination & Delivery $1595.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The USA doesn’t have duty on Japanese imports anymore? Seems you can’t get an STI at any price in Canada, at least around here, the three dealers in this area are only slated to get one each, and they are fully loaded of course.

  • avatar
    DrBiggly

    blautens :
    Once upon a time, I was *this* close to buying a WRX. I didn’t fit in it. Nevertheless, I still looked at them longingly. Then they got uglier. And uglier. This one is seriously fugly. But that’s entirely subjective.

    Performance isn’t, though – so I do wonder, however, how a WRX and a few grand of your typical tuner mods would stack up against this $40k STI. Would that be a smarter buy?

    Perhaps someone well versed in the Subie tuner community could comment?

    Blautens,
    The prior generation STi vs. WRX was a very stark contrast in actual hardware. 2.5L vs. 2.0L and different turbos to boot. But the single largest difference was easily the transmission and differentials.
    WRX: 5-speed with 1.1:1 funkyness making it artificially taller, LSD rear, viscous center, and open front. Also known as the glass trannies; they really do break easily.
    STi: 6-speed close ratio that is absolutely indestructible, LSDs front and rear with the DCCD in the center that actually worked. (’08 model notwithstanding, ’04-’07 saw minor changes almost every year to the diffs and the center controller, that I won’t go into here…but unlike the review, those settings did make a good bit of difference. No AYC or stability control; that’s what the driver was for!)
    The $5-7k premium (depending on options, rebates, etc) for the STi was a steal considering just the transmission cost difference (retail from Subaru is either $6k or $7k, I forget now.) Plenty of folks have done the tough work of stuffing a 6-speed into a WRX, which transforms it quite nicely for the better. Throw in the engine and turbo differences, plus the differentials, and the much better brake package and it wasn’t just icing on the cake: It was actually a lot more cake.
    Nowadays Subaru have figured that they can swing the upmarket (I saw this trend starting with the ’05 Legacy GT…sort of works) by adding a Nav system, a ridiculous failure of an SUV, and some leather interior. The reality is that it does not work, and a $14k price premium is just not justifiable especially considering that some of the major ‘weak points’ of the WRX have been addressed: The WRX now has upgraded brakes (just not the big Brembos) and the 2.5L engine from the Legacy GT (with a smaller turbo and some internal differences.) The transmissions break far less than their previous ’02/’03 variants though they aren’t exactly able to deal with high-revving clutch dropping action either.

    Feel free to email me if you like and I can be more specific: Just add hotmail.com to my alias here. I haven’t had the chance to get into the new ’08s yet; it is just one of those things that I haven’t done down at the local dealership, though I have a fair amount of seat time both on a course and off in the other variants dating back to the ’99 model 2.5RSs. Definitely on my to-do list, though I’m just not as excited about this radical departure from Subaru as I have been about the previous evolutionary steps that they had been making.

    -Biggly

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “BEAT :
    February 18th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    http://www.autoblog.com/photos/2008-proton-r3-satria/647739/

    Look at this pic. Are they similar?”

    Yer right, Beat… they ARE similar. But I think the Proton looks better. Kinda like a WRX or STI filtered through VW’s styling studio. Wish they sold them here in the States.

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    We should all thank Subaru. This model will bring down the price of clean 99 Eclipse GS-x models down even more. All the better to go have some fun with.

    Have fun with your wagon i’ll keep the 2 door coupe DSM.

    /bring a good set of tools, air tools preferably.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Just saw my first one of these in person. My eyes! Oh, the humanity.

  • avatar
    moto

    I find it hypocritical that all the people who swoon over the Alfa Romeo Brera turn around and call the Subie the ugliest thing they’ve seen in a long time.

    The problem with the Subaru is NOT the exterior profile.

    All Imprezas need:

    1) a price reduction, or an interior worthy of the price tag.
    2) a 6-speed manual transmission
    3) flatter torque across the rev range
    4) a 3-door hatchback version ’cause no large adult is going in the back anyway.
    5) if the WRX wants to ever surpass the EVO in performance, it’s gotta shift some of the vehicle mass aft. WAAAAY too much understeer in this puppy, i don’t care how advanced the differential is.

  • avatar
    creator8

    Bit heavy on the looks, Jonny! Actually think it resembles some Group B inspired replicas like urQuattro and Lancia Delta Integrale. Front could do with some aftermarket help though, and yes, can the clear taillights–so HIN 1999.

    Having sat in one for some time, interior is crap especially for the price and unlike what one commenter did say, if you want one with Nav and the nice BBS rims then it will be $40k so Subaru has missed the original plot of their rally reps here–killer performance at a killer price.

    Still performs better than 90% of whats on the road at 10/10ths but for a lot less money I’d rather commute in an R32 with DSG–which I bet would stick with an STI on a canyon road anyway.

  • avatar
    zhng my car

    Why doesn’t Subaru stop using interns to style their cars and just hire someone with a few years experience? And I’d been hoping for an AWD hatch with a scoop to hit the US market. Bleccch. Uglier than the Baja. Like seeing your mom and dad trying for a little brother or sister. Ecccchhh. It’s so bad, its as if you got paid to design it and came in hungover and said ’round lights in the front, round lights in the back, one glass box on top of a bigger metal box’ and then gone home early it would have been better looking.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Honestly if the new hatch had the previous gen front end I would be in love with it. Too bad it looks like a Mazda with an aftermarket grill.

  • avatar
    Ronnie

    The discussion on weather a car is “ugly” or not is pointless. It’s like arguing what is the best color or song. One person thinks is ugly, another thinks it’s beautiful.
    What’s the best car? The one you think is the best. Who cares what anyone else thinks.


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