Is Subaru still our hero in blue?
Do you have forty grand and a clean driving record? Not for much longer.
With the exit of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the market is flooding with all-wheel-drive sedans to be the next STi killer. Europeans and Americans alike are sticking their hands in this traditionally Japanese pot, and in true competitor fashion, they are raising the bar.
For 2016, North America will be seeing the Focus RS in local showrooms. And the germans gifted us the Golf R.
Can we complain? Of course not! But alas, we can critique. To start, the kinda new 2015 WRX STi.
What better known AWD sedan is there? With 47 World rally wins under its belt, the Subaru STi is a proven race platform with an AWD system as pure as they come. The EJ257 (Subaru's 2.5L horizontally opposed four cylinder turbo motor) has been around for quite a while, but is a reliable source of power. Making 305bhp and 290ft-lbs, this engine is no slouch. It gets better when placed ahead of a smooth six speed manual transmission driving front and rear limited slip differentials. And the wing? Who wouldn't feel like a racecar driver with that in the rearview?
On the road the STi is a rough ride, but not so rough that you're uncomfortable. The back seats have room for three more people and will easily fit your recently acquired twins in car seats. The trunk is...still a trunk, large enough to put a few full grown men in. No factory roof rack attachment points means we will be back to buying those metal attachments if we want to go skiing. All in all a great car, but what about the others?
From wonderful Wolfsburg, Germany we have the Golf R, who also wears blue better than you. With a transverse engine layout and a Haldex AWD system from the great lands of Sweden, this Golf cart gets power to all four wheels effectively. With 292 horsepower, it is the underdog against the STi, but it has something the Subaru will never have; a quality interior. Every stitch in this car screams quality. The trim pieces feel solid, the dash is soft to the touch, and the seats are incredibly comfortable. For a few grand more than the STi, you get an interior worth at least the difference, keeping in mind that you’ll pay the price with a Haldex AWD system and a smidge less power. Seating? Don't beg for a quadriplegic child because the back seats are roomy enough for your kid and father-in-law, begrudgingly so.
More blue? But who? The Focus RS will go on sale Spring of 2016 with a starting MSRP of $35,730. This sporty looking Focus will be packing 345 horsepower and 347 foot pounds of twist inside it’s EcoBoost® 2.3L I4 turbo power plant. And this car isn't some one trick pony(sorry Mustang). With a transverse engine and AWD system similar to the Golf’s, this hatch shouldn’t have any trouble putting the power down. The advanced AWD system can channel up to 70% of it’s power to the rear wheels! Ford has also designed a torque vectoring system like something from NASA! The rear differential can send up to 100% of the power to one side; helping the car rotate through turns and eliminating torque steer almost entirely.
From a quality standpoint we have seen better things on the market, expect some rattles inside but nothing to complain about. I haven't spent much time in the back seat of this hot hatch, but expect it to be fairly roomy; make sure you test the rear facing car seats first.
I was going to add the Mazda Speed3, but it's front wheel drive. Hang on, is it still? Mazda said once upon a time that maybe we would see an AWD model, and maybe we would see one around the refresh for the current third generation. That was all dependent on regular 3 sales. Well hello Mazda, where is my car?
Mazda should be refreshing the Mazda3 very soon, and look around, current gens are everywhere! Rumor has it that the car will pack a 2.5L turbo Skyactiv making "more than 300 horsepower". I guess we will have to wait.
So, if you're waiting for a Mazdaspeed3 or an FA series engine in the STi, don't get your panties in a bunch when I tell you that other options are out there. Every one of these cars will be a noble steed during your midnight munchie run as well as a fantastic way for twenty year olds to kill themselves in ten years.