I need to address the issue of the large rear wing and its potential to attract attention from the law. Last night I was getting ready to blow past one of the typical left-lane dawdlers on my commute, and I noticed a State Police car in the median just as my speedometer moved from a two- to four-point infraction. I quickly lifted, applied a little brake, and stuck with legal speeds after I saw the car. I was positive I'd be meeting another brave member of the law-enforcement community on the side of the freeway, but he never left the median. I can't call this wing a ticket magnet anymore.
Of course the real fun started when I left the freeway and had the opportunity to blast away from stop signs on two-lane roads. Even the cold, wet roads didn't pose a problem for Subaru's hottest hatch. I haven't had this much fun behind the wheel in inclement weather since our Four Seasons Mitsubishi Evolution MR left us. Pick as many nits with the styling or interior accoutrements in these civilian-class rally rockets, but you can't deny the powertrain's potency.
I totally understand why people are willing to pay $10,000 more for an STI than a WRX, and not one of them cares about the interior. These buyers want the maximum performance per dollar and willingly trade interior refinement in the name of speed. In a perfect performance-car world, everyone who enjoyed fast cars would be driving something like a Porsche 911, which has an interior as well executed as its powertrain. But in the real world, most people have to make compromises. Not a lot of people are willing to make the sacrifices to drive a car like an STI or an Evo, but the folks who decide to trade comfort for performance have no reason to be ashamed. If you also happen to be into outdoor sports like mountain biking or kayaking, the STI's more utilitarian interior could even be a bonus. It should be easy to clean and wear well over time.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor