SUBARU WRX STI
Japan takes on Europe in the battle of the red-hot hatches. James Stanford calls the winner.
The last WRX STI cost $60,000, but Subaru has cut the price to $49,990. It has more power and torque than the Renault and a complex all-wheel drive system. But it gets smaller wheels and misses the Renault’s rear parking sensors. Other gear includes dual zone aircon, Brembo brakes, alcantara/leather seats, satnav and a 6.1-inch touchscreen. Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres. Capped priced servicing is expensive at $2218 for three years.
Buy an STI and you have to be prepared for attention thanks to the big bonnet scoop and massive rear wing. It’s roomy inside, with the added practicality of four doors. The dashboard has mismatched screens and dials. The front seats and leather steering wheel are
nice enough, but don’t feel as sporty as the Renault.
The STI has a turbo 2.5-litre boxer four-cylinder making a hefty 221kW and 407Nm of torque. It is sent to all four wheels with a complex AWD system (with front and rear limited slip differentials), which can be partly controlled by the driver. This is enough for a 4.9 second 0-100km/h time, a lot faster than the Renault. The only gearbox is a six-speed manual.
Seven airbags earn a five-star ANCAP crash rating. It has a reversing camera but as with the Renault, misses out on more advanced driver aids.
The STI is the faster car, with ferocious performance when pushed hard and remarkable traction, even in slippery conditions. This engine is super strong and the AWD system is impressive. The STI is great when you can push it, but it is so fast that you can’t really do that on the road. It’s not as fun as the Renault at lesser speeds. The steering lacks feel, while the gearbox feels clunky in comparison to the Renault’s. You can also feel the 1525 kilograms.