Last month I wrote about the sad decision to get rid of my JK Wrangler in favor of a new STI. It was a tough decision, but Jeeps come and go (I’ve had 4 wranglers over the years) and I know I’ll get another at some point in the future. While I haven’t been jumping or doing any rock crawling in the STI, I have been dailying the heck out it. Here are my initial impressions after about 900 miles:

The interior:

The seats are great. The Alcantara and leather combination looks nice, especially with the red inserts. They are comfortable and they hold you in pretty well (and keep my butt warm - seat heaters!). The carbon fiber bits are a nice touch and add a bit of a premium feel to the car. The steering wheel is aggressive and feels good in my hands. The dash layout, instrument cluster, Starlink, and clock/info display look pretty good. The dash and door panel plastic don’t have the same premium feel as the rest of the interior, but I suppose at the price point of the STI it is fine. My only real gripe with the interior is that the shift boot and e-brake boot look and feel like they are made from the same vinyl as MC Hammer’s favorite pants. Come on, Subaru… What the hell?!

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The exterior:

The STI (non-limited) is a nice looking car. I didn’t love it when they first came out, but over the year the look has grown on me. The graphite colored mesh wheels and aggressive wing really set it apart from the standard WRX. I like the red better than the other colors (except maybe the Launch Blue), but it does scream, “Hey look at me!” The roof of the car is kind of tall, but the overall ground clearance is actually pretty low. I usually like to lower my cars a bit to get a better stance, but the front bumper hangs out pretty far, so I fear the chin would get messed up from steep driveways if I do end up lowering it.

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The gizmos:

The STI covers most of the basics. It has blue-tooth, a touch screen with backup camera, an information display on the instrument cluster and another that displays a few other bits of information above radio.

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The Starlink is okay. It syncs up to Pandora just fine if I have the app on my phone. The Bluetooth connects flawlessly. The downside is that it only has a couple available apps. I’d like it to pull open the Google Maps from my phone, but I don’t think that is possible.

The backup camera is a nice touch. For whatever reason, though, the guidance lines don’t show up right away when you start the car. I’ve gone my whole life without a backup cam so I don’t care too much, but have driven other cars with the feature and the Subaru one is okay, but not the best.

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There are bunch of gas mileage stats available on the information display above the radio. They mostly seem pretty pointless on a performance car that gets terrible gas mileage. I think range and average MPG would be fine. There is also something that tells you what the drivetrain is doing. It mostly just looks neat, not sure how useful it is. I feel the same way about the boost gauge. I usually just keep the clock as the default display.

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Driving experience:

I wanted AWD because I have an E36 M3 already (RWD fun) and wanted something that’s good to take up to the snow/mountains while still being a blast to drive on a daily basis. The car is stiff and likes to be driven aggressively. It really does handle like it’s on rails and the grip seems almost limitless. The car is pretty easy to drive and didn’t take long to get comfortable with. It gets up and goes when you want it to. It does have some turbo lag, though, and at times feels like it needs more power/torque.

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Off the line the car has too much grip, so it’s tough to get a smooth launch. You have to take off the traction control and put the driving mode in Sport-sharp to really get a clean launch. I feel like that is one of the major benefits of a sporty RWD car over the AWD Subaru (the ability to get a little aggressive off the line without messing with the computer nannies and working the car over like you are beating it for being naughty). The other thing that I find slightly annoying is that the car won’t revert to Sport-sharp after you turn it off. The setting gives it noticeably better throttle response and makes it more fun to drive. The difference between ECO (whatever it’s called) and Sport is not as noticeable.

Conclusion?

The MPGs are pretty bad for a modern car with only 305 hp. I’ve been averaging 16.8 mostly city MPGs driving pretty conservatively (for an STI owner). That’s roughly .8 MPGs better than I was getting in my 285hp JK (4500lb brick shaped vehicle on 37” tires) and 5-10 less than I get in the M3.

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The car is fast, but you really have to work the car over to get at its potential. I think if it had 350-400 hp it would offer a better driving experience. My e36 has a very similar practical powerband despite having quite a few less HP than the STI.

But, overall I am happy with my purchase. The car is fun to drive, looks great, is pretty practical, and didn’t cost too much. It has decent convenience gizmos. The sound is nice with the stock exhaust (although the boxer motor doesn’t always produce the best sound, especially when the exhaust is replaced). It will hold its value well because Subaru. Even though I am sad about letting go of the JK its consoling that the jeep wave has been replaced by the Subaru deuces.

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Now I just need to fight the urge to modify the car with Stage 3 power upgrades.