I think there are two kinds of people in this world. There are "numbers" people, the kind that speak only in the language of data and there are "experiential" people, those that believe that there's so much more than what's written on paper.
I definitely do not belong to the former, except when it comes to cars. Performance figures, specifically. You see, 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds will always be faster than 5.3 seconds. It's a matter of fact. In the same light, 250 km/h is always going to be faster than 220 km/h. That's clear as day. Right. Now here lies the problem. We often associate speed with the sensation of it all. Allow me to explain.
For a Boeing 747-300 to successfully take-off on the runway, it needs to run at 290 km/h before it can even think of leaving the ground. This means that for all of us who have done long haul international flights, we have all broken the 290 km/h barrier - but did it make your stomach turn and send your heart to your throat? The answer is no. Otherwise, my mother would never fly again.
"The WRX has a new engine from this century, whereas the STI has something from World War II."
The sensation of speed is based on many factors such as environment, acceleration, and circumstance. I've gone 300 km/h in a Porsche Panamera Turbo and I've felt more of a thrill hitting 200 clicks in a Ford Focus. Take for instance the Subaru WRX STI. Let's just call it the STI to avoid confusion. On paper, it will completely annihilate a WRX. As a matter of fact, it will humiliate it on a race track. It corners harder and faster than the WRX can and it will smoke it in a drag race. So why then do I feel like the WRX is a far more exciting experience than the STI?
I'll be honest. The WRX is a car I didn't want to like. It looks so average that if I spent that much money on a car that looked like that, I'd rather choke on my own vomit. Inside, it is flimsy and downscaled. It is the complete opposite of opulence and I wouldn't blame you for mistaking it for an Uber of sorts. I was so uninterested that I almost didn't drive it anymore, and as I've realized today - that would've been a mistake of epic proportions.
"The smaller turbos are smarter and they offer torque down low, which means that I don't have to ring its neck all the time just to get it moving."
In my head, I was thinking that if their most bonkers STI's powertrain failed to excite, there's not much that a watered down version of that car could do - and boy was I wrong. For starters, the WRX has a new engine from this century, whereas the STI has something from World War II. The WRX has a smaller 2-liter displacement but with a completely new engine build from the ground up.
The STI's 2.5-liter is completely old school in the way that it has a gigantic turbo bolted to it. It leans so much on the turbo like it's got diabetes and those fans have got insulin in it. Without hitting boost, the engine feels no more powerful than a Toyota Altis, which means that you are in the mercy of mommy cars. The WRX's engine on the other hand, is modern and intelligent. It is the iPhone to the STI's Nokia.
God of boost.
The WRX I drove didn't even come equipped with Subaru's Intelligent Drive system, which meant that I couldn't pick what kind of temperament I would like the powertrain to have. And you know what, I rather like it that way. When I go out for steak, I want the chef to serve me what he thinks goes best with it. I don't want to be burdened with choosing between a thousand variations of sauces. You're the chef, you know your curation better than anyone else.
I want a WRX because I want to drive, so don't bother giving me a half-baked soccer mom mode. If I wanted that, I would've gotten an Impreza or a Levorg. Thankfully, this doesn't have it. Also, the WRX has miles better fuel economy than the STI, especially in the city. The smaller turbos are smarter and they offer torque down low, which means that I don't have to ring its neck all the time just to get it moving. It is a fantastic powertrain, I tell you. Don't listen to Stefano.
So you might ask which one I'd rather have. Well, there are many things that bug me about the STI. I don't particularly enjoy the engine and I think that it has horrible fuel economy. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the WRX, but I'm afraid I will never buy one. I cannot deal with the fact that it is so watered down. The powertrain is definitely a gem and it handles so well in corners, but part of buying cars like these are the fizz it's supposed to give you and the WRX doesn't do it for me even if it feels like the faster car.
I would assume that the WRX is more for the person who wants something a little bit more from their daily driver. If that's the case, then it makes perfect sense. However, if you want to be thrilled from the moment you see the car until after you've stepped out, the STI is the one to have. It is slow until you hit boost... and then you're gone. I cannot justify why I would pick the STI over the WRX, because I do believe that the latter is the better car, but I guess emotional buys don't always need to make sense. At all.
I'll take one with the wing, please.