Nuts & Bolts: 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Complaints: Our initial feeling is that the new WRX STI is too soft for hard-core driving enthusiasts, and it's too hard for the mainstream driver.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Small-car acceleration and handling are superior. Ride comfort is wanting, especially on anything that is a less-than-perfect road. Mainstream motorists will not like this. Off-road driving enthusiasts won't care, because their fervent belief is that the WRX STI belongs off-road only.

Head-turning quotient: It's changed considerably. People now turn their heads to look at the WRX STI. In the past, they lifted their noses.

Body style/layout: The 2008 Subaru WRX STI is a front-engine, compact, high-performance, asymmetrical all-wheel-drive car with four side doors and a rear hatch.

Engine/transmission: The U.S. version of the 2008 WRX STI comes with 2.5-liter, 16-valve, horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder engine that (using Society of Automotive Engineers protocols) develops 305 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 290 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is linked to a six-speed manual transmission.

Capacities: There is seating for five. Estimated luggage capacity is 12 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16.9 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline. Note: "Required" in this case is a term for automotive purists who believe a car, such as the WRX STI, that is designed to run best on premium unleaded gasoline should use only premium unleaded.

Mileage: Our mileage was barely 14 miles per gallon in the city, where we wasted lots of gasoline idling in traffic jams. It was 22 mpg on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes an excellent all-wheel-drive system, side and head air bags, electronic brake-force distribution (essentially designed to apply optimum braking force to individual wheels, depending on road surface, driving speed and angle), electronic stability and traction control, and a tire air pressure monitor.

Price: The 2008 WRX STI is going on sale in early 2008. Initial pricing is $35,640 for the base model, which practically is fully loaded. Estimated dealer's invoice price is $33,000. Prices sourced from Subaru and

Purse strings note: Compare to BMW 3-Series, Mazdaspeed Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Volkswagen GTI.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company