Car Shopping with t0ast, Finale: Something Wing-ed This Way Comes

Guess I gotta go purchase some vape pens now.

In other words, I’m now the owner of a 2019 WRX STI. Stepping back to where I last left off, one of the most significant deciding factors was that my mind just kept going back to the STI day after day after my test drives. It was a similar sort of gut feeling that drove me towards my NC Miata previously, so I was inclined to listen to it again.

Even the sun can’t avoid stepping on those large side skirts.

Another thought that popped up while mulling things over involved the GC8 STi I drove in Japan a few years ago. I adored that car to the point where I was considering some longer-term plans to import a late model year example once they became legal. Before I embarked on my test drives, I was doubtful that the latest generation of STI could come anywhere close to that experience. In some regards, it was downright impossible (because ~600 lb weight difference), but I still found a surprising amount of that DNA left intact.

The handling was still intuitive. The differentials at each end were still mechanical. The steering was still hydraulic (with an even faster ratio here!). The transmission was still unforgiving, yet fun. The gears were still short. The engine still liked to wind all the way up. The exhaust still made unequal-length noises. So on and so forth. Factoring in the chassis improvements, modern niceties, safety, and parts availability, it felt like there was a very real chance that this new STI might adequately cover for that want of the original in the long run.

Same as it ever was, though Subaru was at least kind enough to add some engine upgrades from last year’s Type RA to all 2019 STIs.

I’ve been well aware of the STI’s flaws throughout this process, but I’ve already dealt with worse when it comes to most of them. I also realized that even though it may not have the same level of refinement as its contemporary competitors, it would still be a pretty big step up from the 12+ year old vehicles I was coming from. Not exactly high praise, but when the delta between my previous cars and the STI is considerably larger the one between the STI and Golf R, the STI didn’t really feel like a sacrifice in that regard.

I’d agree with most reviewers that some interior materials could be better, but it still looks decent and I appreciate the simplicity of all the controls.

Pricing wound up playing a small but noteworthy role in my decision as well. I was eligible for VW Partnership Program pricing ($500 below invoice) thanks to my SCCA membership, but sadly, the Golf R wasn’t. With no other incentives applicable to me, most VW dealers I spoke to were stubbornly holding on near MSRP. On the other hand, Subaru required little provocation to dip towards invoice or below and also had special 1.9% financing available. That difference worked out to be over $2k in the STI’s favor (including desired options) without even factoring in the additional interest likely to be paid.

In the end, I wound up using a quote from Heuberger Subaru (shout out to MUSASHI66 for the tip) as a bargaining chip at my local dealer and we quickly agreed to ~$200 below invoice OTD to have them transport in a car that was configured exactly like I wanted. That configuration, to be specific, was a base trim STI in World Rally Blue As-You-Do Pearl with the Recaro package (includes keyless entry and push-button start), short shifter, and a few other interior options like an auto-dimming mirror and extendable center arm rest. Better deals are probably out there, but travel costs for me to see one through would likely have negated most of the potential savings. This region just doesn’t see a whole lot of STI stock show up.

Obnoxious green calipers to complement the obnoxious wing. I hear Brownbos are still a thing, so... challenge accepted.

Now back to the present. I’ve only driven the STI a few times so far (~175 miles total), but each trip has reaffirmed my feelings from the initial test drive.  The Recaros proved to be comfortable on a 45+ minute drive as well, so no buyer’s remorse here. There won’t be much else to report for a while since I’m stuck playing nice during the initial 1000 mile break-in period. My plans in the meantime are to get some mild window tint and maybe PPF applied in a select few areas (side skirts for sure...) and then patiently await the day I’m allowed to drive it like it was meant to be driven. It’ll also definitely be subbing in for some autocross duty in the future if/when the Exocet gets rained out.

Bonus photo-op with a friend’s ‘02 WRX Wagon. It’s got over 200k miles, but is easily one of the best-kept bugeyes that I’ve ever encountered.

Finally, with this now done, the Outback XT is officially up for sale. However, there’s there’s a chance that one of my friends might snatch it up. I’ll be giving them a few days to make up their mind then make another post about it for some added visibility if that doesn’t pan out by next week.

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