It’s no secret that I’m a fan of what Subaru has to offer, having purchased a 2014 WRX STI of my own. However, after making a video providing seven reasons why you might not want to buy a Subaru STI, a lot of folks had their feelings hurt. Without a doubt my most disliked video, fanboys across the globe felt I was attacking their identity. While I’ll still defend the video as every car has its drawbacks and all of my points were factual and objective, I do feel there is a lot of positive light which deserves to be shined on the Impreza family. Here are seven reasons why you should buy a Subaru Impreza:
- Full Time All-Wheel Drive
- Fuel Economy
- The FA20
- Manual Transmissions
- 3+ Limited-Slip Differentials
- Driver Controlled Torque Split
None of that part time FWD nonsense. Though I think the tech is cool for highway driving (disconnecting the rear axle can lead to better fuel economy), often these systems can be hit or miss when it comes to off-road capability. Delays in sending power to the rear axle and non-ideal torque splits can lead to discouraging situations off the beaten path. Subaru has a clever AWD system, with short and wide boxer engines running the AWD system longitudinally, with the weight evenly balanced left to right. The system is always active, so even if the front and rear differentials are open (as is often the case with entry-level AWD systems), you’ll know that both axles will be receiving power.
I drive a different press car every week, and I’ve been in every major Subaru model. One thing that stands out is how consistently practical the vehicles are. Every model has above average visibility; it’s hard to think of a company which does this better. Large glass and pillars that don’t block your view - I’m always perplexed at how willing some companies are to sacrifice visibility. Cargo space is always exceptional, and rear legroom is sufficient for adults (though don’t try it in a BRZ). Its vehicles generally have higher than average ground clearance, and with standard AWD this makes getting to any trailhead (or ski slope) a breeze.
Often, AWD comes at a heavy price. Not only does the vehicle cost more, but it costs more to run as a result of the drain on fuel economy AWD systems have. Though FWD cars like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic can crest over 40mpg on the highway, the base Impreza returns a respectable 37mpg. And when Subaru models are compared against AWD counterparts, they often have the highest highway rating. That said, none of this applies to the STI, as it’s just as thirsty as a V6 4WD Ford F150.
Granted, Subaru has discontinued the Impreza name on the WRX and STI, but it has a history of being a family hence I’ll include the top dogs. The new engine planted in the Subaru WRX is exceptional. The boxer four cylinder square engine produces 268hp and 258lb ft at just 2000rpm. Compared to the engine in the STI, it has less turbo lag, hits peak torque sooner, and pulls harder through the lower rev range. In a straight line it can hold its own against the STI (thanks in part due to less weight), and yet in my fuel economy testing the computer read out 35.1 mpg. Even if the system read a touch high, as they often do, that’s very impressive from a potent AWD car.
Subaru is keeping the manual alive across nearly its entire lineup. You can choose to row your own gears in the Impreza, WRX, STI, BRZ, Crosstrek, and even the Forester. In a world where driving joy is often put on the back burner for everyday cars, Subaru at least lets the customer choose between an efficient CVT or a less mind-numbing stick shift.
I get it, you think the hatchback STI is an abomination and your hands are too greasy from modding cars to be concerned about fuel economy. And although thirty seconds later you’ll probably share a meme about how you don’t have any money for car parts, or your fuel tank is always empty, you’ll maintain your belief that fuel economy (and thus money) doesn’t matter. Fine. But know we’re in the same boat if you genuinely enjoy the Subaru STI.
One of the special things about it is the AWD system. The centre differential is really two differentials, with a mechanical limited slip style diff matched with an electronically controlled differential to aid with torque transfer. At the front, a helical LSD splits power left to right, and at the back a Torsen diff keeps the rear tyres in check. The car isn’t designed to slide, it’s designed to grip, allowing you to put as much power as possible to the ground at any moment. It’s shocking how well this car can accelerate in adverse conditions, especially with the right tyres.
One of the coolest things about the STI is that it gives the driver so much control. Traction control can be on or off, as well as stability control and with it, torque vectoring. The throttle mapping can be changed to be linear or more aggressive, for those who want the most control, or those who just want full throttle as fast as possible. And that’s before even touching the centre differential. With the diff completely open, the gearing splits the torque 41/59. Press a couple of buttons, and you can divert more torque to the front wheels for slippery situations. Alternatively, you can leave it in auto, and let the diff figure out the logic needed depending on the situation.