Having Fun With Cars You Don’t Own.

So, this week, the girlfriend is out at her dad’s place: took the dog with her, and, is planning on doing some driving, with her dad. She needs to practice up, because license testing is coming soon. So, I left the 2005 Subaru Forester out there at her request. Now, it’s a forty-five minute drive back to town, so how do I get there?

Her dad gives me the keys to his 2011 Subaru WRX.

This is not a bad deal at all!

Look, I’m a respectful guy with other people’s cars (and there’s no snow to go sliding on), but it is really interesting driving this little pocket rocket. And make no mistake, it is a rocket. Some will swear that you must have the STI, but I’ll be honest: the WRX itself is way more car than the average person needs.

Comparitively, the WRX sits on a 2.5 turbo, 5speed manual transmission, making 265hp and 244lb.ft of torque. The WRX STI runs a same-displacement 2.5L Turbo, a six speed transmission, and 305hp/290lb.ft of torque. Given the car is the same, otherwise? Yeah, the STI is faster.

But I don’t really see the “need” for the extra of the STI, especially the (reputedly: I’ve not driven an STI) over-hardened suspension, which makes long trips painful, and adds, by all reports, about twenty percent more handling ability… at the absolute top of the envelope. The average driver? Gonna be super happy with the WRX.

Which comes to my impressions.

I’m digging it. I’ve always said I’d like one, but this really just confirms it. It’s ridiculously quick: forget about 0-60mph times: if you put your foot in it at 30km/h in second, you’ll be breaking the law moments later. Like, in a ‘lose your license’ kind of way. The biggest issue for me is coming from my Genesis Coupe, the 5MT vs the 6MT: I keep thinking I should be up a gear (because in teh ‘coupe, I would be) but the WRX is happy to lope around town in second gear, at 50km/h, getting 7L/100km on the instant readout, and is IMMEDIATELY ready, and in the boost, if you need to stand on it.

And you will need to stand on it. Because you’ll invent reasons to stand on it.

It’s a lot quicker than my coupe. For the moment. The spec on the coupe, right now, is about 200hp/220lb.ft of torque (at the wheels: on paper it’s 223hp/225lb.ft or so) I give up half-a-litre in displacement, so no real surprise there. The big difference is the extra gear: I find first gear is really difficult to get into hard, where in the Subaru, it’s extremely useful and you can run around on suburb roads in first at 25-30km/h without feeling like you’re stressing the car. The ‘coupe on the other hand is screaming at 30km/h in 1st. The WRX, despite the really nice and taut suspension that inspires confidence, is really compliant around town. My lowered, stiffened (and yes, blown strut-wearing) coupe? Less so at the moment. I assume more like the STI, honestly.

In fact, the gear ratio thing is interesting.

That explains a lot, don’t it?
The WRX is a car I could live with every day. There’s a useable back seat, and a good trunk for the class: the hatchback and folding seats are a bonus at that point.

The turbo whine from the WRX is FANTASTIC. This is a sound I recommend whole heartedly… unless you like fuel economy. Because you won’t get any making that sound happen at wide-open-throttle.

The only downside to the WRX is… no one looks at me. I’ve gotten used to (and enjoy) the looks and comments my ‘coupe gets.

So, in the WRX vs Genesis Coupe sexy battle? The WRX loses. Badly. The coupe is just sexy as hell.

The WRX does feel tight inside, too. Not small tight, but well put together tight. In a way my ‘coupe doesn’t. Now, that has changed from what I’ve seen of the ’12, and especially ’13 coupes. But my ‘first year’ model… yeah, it’s got some creaks and groans. In fact, it’s in the shop getting an oil change, and hopefully, the squeak in the seat diagnosed and fixed (under warranty). With similar mileage (albeit two years younger) the WRX feels better put together.

I’d buy a WRX. In fact, I may buy a WRX. Not now, but if I decide I want a fun daily-driver that I can winter easily? it’s going to be right at the top of my list, without a doubt. The holy grail would be, honestly, a 2008 Forester XT (WRX engine, manual transmission, and most of the suspension, but with more room inside), but an Impreza/WRX would definitely do the job.

Because Winter Racecar.

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