The STI’s fuel-economy figures are not good at an EPA-estimated 17/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined; the Civic Type R is rated 25 mpg combined, and the Golf R is rated 24 mpg combined with a manual transmission and 25 mpg combined with an automatic. All of these cars require premium gas.
Though 2018 brought updated cabin materials, they’re still not up to snuff for a car with a price tag that pushes $40,000. It felt on par with the interior of the Focus RS I tested in 2017, but it was definitely behind the Civic Type R and Golf R in terms of materials and design. The backseat is especially sparse, with no power ports or vents for those passengers.
The optional Recaro seats are a nice touch: They provide good bolstering and though I sometimes don’t fit well into sport seats (due to my personal wideness), I had no such issue with these. They come as part of a $2,500 option package that includes push-button start and keyless access. The standard 7-inch touchscreen that controls the multimedia system has touch-sensitive controls on either side of the screen, but the panel has small indentations that makes the individual buttons easier to locate. Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not included at this time (though they are included on other 2018 Subaru models).
The Recaro seats are standard if you jump up to the Limited trim level, which does spruce up the cabin a bit with leather upholstery, a navigation system, upgraded speakers and a power moonroof. But the Limited represents a $4,800 jump over what’s already a pretty expensive car. Which brings me to my next point …
It Costs How Much?
This new Subaru WRX starts at $36,955 (all prices include destination charges), but my test vehicle stickered at $39,455 (thanks to the aforementioned seats), which made my eyes pop. The Limited model at $41,755 isn’t much easier to stomach.
That’s a lot of scratch for a car that doesn’t have an upmarket interior and is lacking in safety features. Limited models do add blind sport warning, but you won’t find forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist or adaptive cruise control here. There are various reasons for this — for example, the STI’s hydraulic steering system means no lane keep assist (the feature requires electric power steering). But Subaru does offer its EyeSight safety system on other vehicles with a manual transmission (including the 2018 Subaru WRX), so its absence here is troubling.
Make no mistake about it, the 2018 WRX STI is a well-sorted performance car with some very cool technology both underneath and inside of it that makes it a fun, spirited drive. But I can’t come up with a compelling reason to buy one over its competitors.
If you want to have the most fun, grab a Civic Type R with its brash styling and exceptional grip. If you require all-wheel drive and want the most performance, then the Focus RS is your cup of tea; it also has a weak interior but a more powerful engine and better gearbox than the Subaru. If you want something that has much more everyday livability, cargo room and safety technology while still being fun to drive, go with the Golf R.
And although the Focus RS is priced similarly to the STI I tested, both the Civic Type R ($34,990) and the Golf R ($36,475) offer more for less. The Golf R even comes standard with forward automatic emergency braking, leather upholstery and navigation.
I liked this WRX, but I like the other three a lot more.
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