SUBARU WRX STI
Slightly cheaper but gets smaller 18-inch wheels, smaller centre screen but no parking sensors. Other than that, it matches the Peugeot with Alcantara bucket seats with leather accents, dualzone climate control and satnav, adding premium Harman Kardon audio. Warranty is average at 3 years/unlimited km. Subaru doesn’t charge extra for paint. Three years’ capped servicing costs slightly less at $2222 and includes six services to the Peugeot’s three.
If the Peugeot is understated the Rex is in your face, with bonnet scoop, big rear wing and pumped out wheelarches. Strip away the bling and the intrinsic design isn’t as sleek and stylish as the Peugeot. Inside it’s the same story: boy racer versus Euro chic. The centre screen looks a little aftermarket compared with the 308.
Even with the extra weight, there’s no substitute for cubic capacity, power and torque. The 2.5-litre outmuscles the Peugeot’s 1.6-litre with 10 per cent more power and almost 25 per cent more torque. Add all-wheel traction off the mark and you can believe the claim that the Subaru is more than a second quicker in the 0-100km/ h sprint (4.9sec to 6.0sec). It sounds meaner but lacks the “p-tish” sound the 308 makes on gear changes.
The WRX gets seven airbags (driver’s knee bag) and a five-star crash rating, scoring 35.85/37 in ANCAP testing. It has tyre pressure monitoring and auto hazard lights but only the more expensive Premium is fitted with blind spot monitor, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
You feel the extra mass through the corners but the tenacious allwheel grip and torque vectoring make it feel more composed, if not as nimble, as the GTi through the corners. Handling bias can be adjusted on the run. The ride can be uncomfortably firm at low speeds, though. Feels as if the performance threshold is higher than the 308 and it delivers more thrills.