This car is outright addicting -- I have never had more fun just going to get my dry cleaning. Then again, how often does a trip to the dry cleaners lead to a Mitsubishi Evo X driver following you to the parking lot with a barrage of questions? The low-frequency growl out of the quad exhaust is just as intoxicating as the boost of power that the turbo flat four delivers above 3000 rpm; although I do feel a little sorry for my neighbors who had the endure the growl every time I came or went.
I found that in the adjustable center differential's dry setting, which sends two-thirds of the power to the rear, gave just the right amount of balance between front-end bite and all-out power. However, once it started raining, leaving the diff in auto mode will make a WRC champ out of any driver. The engine had plenty of down-low power for around town, although I found the clutch to be a little too vague (a problem I've had before with Subarus), making low-speed driving in traffic a chore. Speaking of vague, while the brakes were firm, the pedal supplied little feedback, making stop-and-go modulation a little on the jerky side at first. Another lesson learned from around-town driving is the magnetism that rear wing has to police. At a surprising number of stoplights I found a cop in the lane behind me; and as an STI-owner friend pointed out to me, that wing is also perfectly situated to cover the police light bar.
As someone to whom Subaru is trying to appeal with this car, I am not sure that the blistering powertrain and exhaust note fully make up for the low-rent interior. Are the uprated components and large wing really worth ten grand over a non-STI WRX? I don't think so. That said, the all-weather, all-terrain, all-fun, and general all-rounder capabilities of the car really outshines anything it could be put up against.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor