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I drove the new WRX finally, after waiting years for it to come out. A couple comments:
1. Great driving position - steering wheel, seats, and shifting height and feel are excellent, as good as any car. A little better for me than the IS300.
2. Great power, not as much as an S4, but more than a 330 or IS300. I didn't notice much turbo lag, just a steady increase from 3000 to redline. Sounds good, but it's not an inline 6.
3. Great handling, steering is excellent, a bit light, but so accurate and communicative, very active handling, great fun on back roads. More tossable than S4, 3 series, or even the IS300. More FUN than a new 3 series, definitely.
4. Not at all luxurious, fairly noisy on the highway, and doesn't give you the special feel you get from a BMW or IS300. Purely a driver's car.
Summary: One of the great drives out there, better than an E46 BMW, and equal to what I expect the IS300 manual to be. If I didn't already own the 325i, i'd buy the WRX, BUT, it didn't blow me away like I hoped, so I'm probably not trading my BMW for it. Maybe the IS300 manual will be the ONE.
 

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Good review, ckolsen.

The truth of the matter is automotive technology is so established nowadays that car are rarely exemplary or completely sub-par. Anybody that goes around throwing the hyperbole that their car is the best thing since sliced bread and so-and-so competitor is a POS isn't worth giving the time of day to.

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051/LP/SR/LD/HH
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's a good point. It's so hard to choose between great cars like the IS300, 3 series, Audi A4 or WRX, that I think we try to pre-judge cars on looks or brand, just to make it easier to choose. In fact, the reason the IS300 sticks in my mind as a great driver's car, is cause I did the Lexus Driving Event (and Edmunds Live, which had an IS300), and got to drive the car the way you never could on a test drive.

Originally posted by DtEW:
Good review, ckolsen.

The truth of the matter is automotive technology is so established nowadays that car are rarely exemplary or completely sub-par. Anybody that goes around throwing the hyperbole that their car is the best thing since sliced bread and so-and-so competitor is a POS isn't worth giving the time of day to.
 

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ckolsen,

If I remember correctly, you're doing your first (?) track event soon. I think it may change your assessment of the E46 BMW. The is300 may be more fun on autocross-type courses (like the one at the Lexus driving event I assume) because of its tighter steering, but it is very very tough to beat the all-around performance of the BMW at the track. If I were doing primarily autocrosses and backroads driving I may lean to the IS300, but if you get hooked on track as I have, you're going to have to think BMW or the WRX.

By the way, BMW is restoring the old, tighter steering to the E46 3-series beginning this month.


[This message has been edited by Young (edited March 19, 2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Young,
Yes, that's right, May 2 I'm doing the NHIS event. Actually, I've heard the E46 is a much better chassis for the track than the E36 or IS300, that the handling limits are much higher, so I am anxious to see them running at Loudon. Also, I did BMW's autocross event in '99 328s, and was extremely impressed (got me on my BMW kick). So if they make the steering like the '99 328/323 again, I'll change my opinion. The other thing with the 330, those wide rear tires seem to take some fun out of the handling?
The WRX didn't seem to have that good acceleration on the highway, so I wonder if it's as` good a track car as a backroad/autocross car?
Originally posted by Young:
ckolsen,

If I remember correctly, you're doing your first (?) track event soon. I think it may change your assessment of the E46 BMW. The is300 may be more fun on autocross-type courses (like the one at the Lexus driving event I assume) because of its tighter steering, but it is very very tough to beat the all-around performance of the BMW at the track. If I were doing primarily autocrosses and backroads driving I may lean to the IS300, but if you get hooked on track as I have, you're going to have to think BMW or the WRX.

By the way, BMW is restoring the old, tighter steering to the E46 3-series beginning this month.


[This message has been edited by Young (edited March 19, 2001).]
 

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Originally posted by ckolsen:
Young,
Yes, that's right, May 2 I'm doing the NHIS event. Actually, I've heard the E46 is a much better chassis for the track than the E36 or IS300, that the handling limits are much higher, so I am anxious to see them running at Loudon. Also, I did BMW's autocross event in '99 328s, and was extremely impressed (got me on my BMW kick). So if they make the steering like the '99 328/323 again, I'll change my opinion. The other thing with the 330, those wide rear tires seem to take some fun out of the handling?
For your first track events you'll want some understeer, and those staggered wheels will give you that. Eventually, you'll want to get a separate set of wheels for the track, and you can even the widths out at that time.

Originally posted by ckolsen:

The WRX didn't seem to have that good acceleration on the highway, so I wonder if it's as` good a track car as a backroad/autocross car?
I'm not certain, but I think the torque kicks in at the higher RPMs in the WRX. This makes it a great track car as at the track you're going to have it floored most of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My E36 is gonna make me nervous on the track, it's not bashful at all about oversteering. I think I could drive an understeering car faster maybe, at least until I get used to the oversteer.
My buddy, an S4 driver and vocal proponent, just drove the WRX, after trash talking it relentlessly for months. Now he loves it! Heh.

Originally posted by Young:
I'm not certain, but I think the torque kicks in at the higher RPMs in the WRX. This makes it a great track car as at the track you're going to have it floored most of the time.

 

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E36 vs. E46:

From Oct. 23, 2000 Autoweek:

All E46 unibodies were designed from the outset to take the cornering loads the M version would generate.

"With the new M3, we wanted to sharpen the profile of the BMW M," Friedmann [Siegfied Friedmann is the M3 project manager] explains. "With the old M3, we actually kept very close to the baseline E36. Now we wanted to go toward a more sportive car, which also has the chance with the wider track to have higher cornering speeds and better handling qualities than even we had already with the E36. This is perhaps the main idea base for the new M3."
ckolsen, are you still in Europe? You mentioned Loudon...have you heard about the trial of Urbain Grandier?
 

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Hmm... I test drove the WRX on Saturday, and needless to say, I was seriously disappointed with both the Subaru dealership I was at and the WRX itself.

This is how the visit went down...

Me and my friend arrive at the small Subaru dealership, and fake interest in the silver WRX parked outside (I'm not actually gonna buy it, and I probably know more info about it than the salesperson.) After about five minutes of acting interested in it, trying to lure someone out, I go inside. I walk around an Outback, again looking pensive and interested, and even sit in it for a while... nothing. I sit on their comfy couch for five minutes. Nope. I finally ask someone in the office for someone to help. Five minutes later: no one is helping me. I go to the front desk and very politely ask the lady to get someone to help me. I resume my position at the couch. Five more minutes pass, and I ask again. Within minutes a sales person from the used car department is here to help me, but rather than the pushy, talkative approach, he takes an irritated, silent approach, so throughout the test drive, it is me who is making conversation about the car. What a sucky visit.

Now on to the WRX, I admit that a test drive consisting of a city block can't tell you much about a car, but from the redlining I did in it, I wasn't impressed with it at all. Didn't feel much when I slammed on the gas, wasn't impressed with the sound, and where the hell is blow off valve sound? Maybe I'll visit a different dealership later this week and get a better idea of what the WRX is all about...

P.S. sorry for the long post! had to rant about the poor service though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
JW, I'm back from Europe - Loudon is the race track in New Hampshire. I haven't heard of the trial.
Shadoh6, the best way to get a test drive and good service is to call, then they think you're serious. If you just walk in, they know you're just browsing. Find a dealership around country roads, the WRX will impress you.

Originally posted by JW:
E36 vs. E46:

From Oct. 23, 2000 Autoweek:

ckolsen, are you still in Europe? You mentioned Loudon...have you heard about the trial of Urbain Grandier?
 

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I test drove the WRX and it didn't impressed me at all. Good power and AWD but the car is so basic that I will not pay $26K+. I will spend my $5K-$6K more and get me that IS300 as son as I sell one of my cars.
 

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ckolsen, this may be a little off topic... but the auto-x event you did, was that at the Dog track in NH or at Ft. Devens in MA? You have to come to Ft. Devens with the BMW Club this year... 2 courses and about 6-8 runs.
(The BMW Club is open to people even without BMW's for you IS people.
)

It's an excellent venue with plenty of run-off.

I had a Black Suabru 2.5RS and now own a 2002 WRX Wagon.

It's a fun little car. It's still in break-in so I haven't opened her up yet...I have about 550 more miles to go.

The body may have changed, it's been made a litle more stiff, some materials inside have been upgraded, and sure it's got a little more power (well...62 more to be exact) but it's still an Impreza.


I'm looking forward to this years auto-x events so I can try out some new IS300's and BMW's... I'll let anyone beat on my WRX.
It's only fair afterall. Seeing how I haven't driven them yet, I really can't give any light on the subject of car vs. car. Sorry.
Yes, I've been lurking on this board for a little while.

I'd love to do the Track Days, but it's just too far a haul from rain soaked South Eastern MA to call it a Day Trip.

papo-salsa... "is so basic that I will not pay $26K+" I walked out the door with my WRX Wagon for $23K. That's a $9-$10K difference from an IS, right? For a car with a better HP to weight ratio too. Yes the IS is filled with creature comforts and is also a well sorted piece of machinery, I agree there. But if no-frills is your game (like it is mine) the WRX is a no-brainer.


--kC
 

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Discussion Starter #13
KC, I went to the BMW sponsored "Ultimate Driving Event" or some such, where you had pro instructors teach you to autocross in brand new 323s and 328s - very short, you only got 3 laps plus the team rally at the end, but for someone who'd never done it, it was awesome. Lexus did the same thing the next year, without the instructors - but they were a lot more anal, they got upset and kicked me out when I spun the IS300.
Also, how'd you get a discount on the WRX? I figured they'd go for sticker.
 

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here's my e-mail addy: [email protected] I wouldn't mind taking this off-line as it doesn't speciofically have to do with the IS.

I got a good price because I ordered it the 1st week it was available for purchase and had it in writing with a deposit on the deal.

Up until last month sometime, you would have been able to get one for under MSRP. Once they realized the popularity this car had, all the dealers figured... MSRP.. take it or leave it.

Van Bortel Subaru somewhere in NY will and is still doing $400 over invoice.

--kC
 

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I test drove the WRX yesterday and was impressed by it. Quick acceleration. A lot stronger than my wife's IS. Turbo leg is minimal. Good mid-range power. Gears are well-spaced. Shifting is short, quick, and precise. It's very tossible and light on its feet. Yet, it gives you a lot of confidance in its handling. The chassis is stiff. It feel like that it's a well-built car. I also like how most essential items are included as standard. However (here it comes), there were a few things about the WRX that didn't impress me. The matieral used in this car wasn't on par with what the cars in this price range should be. The sound that it makes when you pull the door handle, shut the doors, and close the trunk reminds you that it's no Germen. The engine isn't as smooth nor sounds as good as the I-6 in the e36 M3's.

All in all, I really like the WRX a lot. All the short falls that I mentioned are not essential to me and I can live with those. I'm not in the market to buy a new car at this moment, but I'd recommend anyone who is to give this little rocket some serious consideration as long as you are looking for performance, and luxuary is not anywhere on your priority list.
 
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