Three Years with the WRX STi

It’s been three years since my wife bought me a car on her birthday. It was a weird and wacky thing to do.

We’re weird and wacky people.

Today is my final maintenance appointment covered under warranty. I’m getting my fluids changed, tires rotated, and a few small items repaired for free for the last time. As the mechanics do their thing, I have a few minutes to reflect and do mine.

The Subaru WRX STi is a fun car to own and drive, there’s no denying that. Some of the big boy V8s will kill the STi top end, but with a sub-5 second 0-60 time and a low 13 second quarter mile, it can hang with most of them around town. Throw a corner or two into that track and the Subaru will leave them all in the dust — or rain, ice, or snow. I’ve found it almost impossible to separate the tires from the road, even when intentionally attempting to do so. To “burn rubber” you’ve got to disable a series of electronic safety systems, but the one time I disabled the all-wheel drive, shifted the power to the rear wheels, disabled the traction control system and popped the clutch, I quickly found my car facing in the wrong direction, wondering what had happened. Those soft rubber racing tires the car comes with don’t help. They may look like tires, but I suspect they are little more than layer upon layers of super glue. My dream of taking off ramp curves in sixth gear is finally a reality.

Based on how I drive the thing (which is “as fast as possible from stoplight to stoplight”), the car has held up amazingly well. I haven’t had a problem with anything under the hood so far. The one part that hasn’t stood the test of time is the dash-mounted “Turbo Boost Gauge” that shows the driver how much air pressure is currently built up within the car’s turbo system. It’s useful if you’re turning the boost levels of the car (which would void your warranty), but provides no useful real-time information to the driver, which is good news as mine has failed three times. The first time, the gauge literally fell apart into two pieces. The dealership obviously reassembled the gauge with glue — the same glue that melted and drooled out all over my dash the following summer. Since then, the gauge has completely stopped working. Again, it’s not like a fuel gauge or speedometer — everytime I look at the gauge I wonder, “What am I supposed to do with that information?” — but seeing the needle point to 0 all the time irks me.

The car also has a few door dings, thanks to Subaru’s attempt to shave every possible pound off the car’s overall weight by wrapping it in metal that compares to that of a soda can. The heft of the car’s doors (or lack thereof) reminds me of the doors that were on my Ford Festiva. I’ve done my best to always park the car away from other cars whenever possible, but almost every time I’ve been forced to park next to another car, I’ve pulled away with a ding on the door. If you’re planning to recreate Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” music video, I cannot recommend the WRX.

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The STi is a car-enthusiast magnet. I can’t count the number of nods and thumbs up I’ve received from “my people” — not guys in Corvettes or business suits, but mostly younger guys, driving Honda Civics with loud mufflers and covered in primer and racing stickers. Not everyone knows what the STi has hiding under the hood (occasionally I show them) and simply see the car as a blue, four door hatchback. But my people… my people know.

So do the police. I haven’t been pulled over in the Subaru yet, but I’ve been followed more than once. My personally theory is that when they see a 42-year-old man driving the car (and not someone twenty years younger) they move along, but I’ll definitely say I’ve seen more “interest” from black and whites in the STi than I have in my Avalanche. And if they happen to catch me at the right place and the right time, my monthly insurance payment could quickly rise to match or even exceed my car payment.

Susan recently asked me if I was ready to sell the car. “Not yet,” was my reply. The STi has been a fun car. I don’t know that it’s a “forever” car to own, but it’s still fun, so for the time being I’m keeping it.

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3 comments to Three Years with the WRX STi

  • Mom

    You’d better sell it before Mason is old enough to drive or I see trouble in your future. LOL

  • Liz

    I think the car looks as good as new ! how many miles do you have on it now, 50? :)

  • Paul in AZ

    Maybe someday. The WRX STi is on my “get” list. It’s probably the most realistic entry thereon. Enjoy it while you can.