C&D Comparo - New Wave Slingshots - Evo Vs. STi

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 5, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Welcome, America, to the new world of performance cars.

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    BY DANIEL PUND
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID DEWHURST
    June 2003

    To most folks, the Evo and the STi look absurd. That's because these small economy sedans have been tarted up with improbable—some dare say juvenile—bits and pieces of racy-looking gear. In this fashion, they will be familiar to much of America as variations on the slammed Honda Civic theme.

    And indeed, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution are performance cars that lack the voluptuous curves and tight muscularity most people associate with sporting cars in the $30,000 range. If the level of juvenile appeal can be measured by the height of an economy sedan's rear wing, then these two sedans are positively infantile.

    But Subaru and Mitsubishi insist that the add-ons are fully functional and integral to the performance of these cars. The Evo's big carbon-fiber wing is claimed to reduce rear-end lift at high speed. And Subaru says the STi's absurdly tall and conspicuous hood scoop is necessary to feed the intercooler that sits atop the flat-four engine. We believe it. The height and shape of the scoop is effective as an industrial-strength bug killer, with hapless insects sucked in by the swarm and severed on the intercooler's fins. Also, the shape makes it perfect for use as a skateboard ramp. It could be used as temporary shelter for a diminutive immigrant family. (Every morning we'd awake to find several people pacing impatiently under the scoop's cover, waiting for a bus.)

    This is all part of the appeal. These rally-inspired road cars—with which Europe and Japan are already thoroughly familiar after more than a decade of availability—are, in a sense, the newest and most-exciting class of performance cars to enter the U.S. market in years. Face it: To the latest generation of hot rodders, Mustangs and Camaros just ain't cuttin' it.

    These are the new status symbols of performance. In fact, for those who do not aspire to own Corvettes, they are the anti-status-symbol status symbols. These are cars for the initiated—for those of you who stay up to watch the sideways glory of World Rally Championship coverage on the Speed Channel, and for those who choose to race the rally stages on Sony PlayStation's Gran Turismo. If the graybeards feel silly driving them, that's all the better.

    A brief history lesson. It was Subaru that popularized this whole idea of selling economy sedans with punchy turbocharged motors and all-wheel drive to Americans. The car was the standard WRX, which we've anointed as a 10Best winner in each of its two years on the U.S. market. Mitsubishi's initial response was the decidedly lame Lancer O-Z Racing Rally Edition. With its punk 120 horsepower and front-wheel drive, it could no more be a genuine performance car than a drag queen could be your mother—the equipment was all wrong. Mitsubishi bridged the gap to some degree with the 160-hp Ralliart Lancer. Finally, Mitsubishi introduced the Evolution to this country at the Los Angeles auto show last January. The company basked in the adoring glow of the Evo's 44-hp advantage over the WRX—for all of one week. Then Subaru dropped its surprise 300-hp bomb on the awestruck at the Detroit show—days later in January—in the form of the STi model (for the company's in-house tuner, Subaru Tecnica International). One Mitsubishi official was seen seizing his crotch in mock pain over the blow dealt by Subaru.

    It is for now, and for the foreseeable future, a class of two. The cars pictured here are both hot off the car-show stage and on sale as you read this. Certainly, we anticipate that some shoppers in this class would also consider the purchase of a Nissan 350Z, Mazda RX-8, or possibly the upcoming all-wheel-drive, V-6-powered Volkswagen Golf R32—particularly since they're in roughly the same price ballpark.

    But the ante to play in this test consists of all-wheel drive, meaty near-slick tires mounted on lightweight aluminum wheels, highly turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and beefed-up econosedan brawn.

    Still not convinced of the legitimacy of these Asian hot rods? Consider that one of our testers quite rightly concluded after a hard point-and-squirt run on a tight country road in Southern California that he couldn't have gone through the section any faster if he'd been in a Ferrari 360 Modena. How's that for absurd, old man?

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    Second Place - Subaru Impreza WRX STi

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    Highs: Strong, torquey engine; high-quality interior; grippy tires.

    Lows: Steering's too slow, some understeer, seats need more bolstering, floppy hood and wing, tires generate as much noise as they do grip.

    The Verdict: If you know who Petter Solberg is, this is the one for you.


    It wasn't supposed to go down like this. The 300-hp car loses to a similarly priced, less-powerful vehicle!? Well, yes. But we prefer to think of the WRX STi not as the loser but as the close second-place finisher.

    Still, before we took to the mountain roads, California highways, and racetrack, it seemed the Subaru had already won. Did we mention its 300 horsepower?

    The STi has, without question, the better of the two turbo-fed mills here. It's not just the 300 horses that would put it over the top. It's not the identical number in the torque column, either. Heavily boosted motors—and the Subaru's is, with 14.5 pounds of turbo boost—tend to be a little, well, unpleasant in daily use. You'll remember turbo motors of old: You stepped on the gas, then you waited and waited, and then you suddenly got more than you'd bargained for. Thanks in part to the Subaru's relatively large displacement (at 2.5 liters, it's half a liter up on the Mitsu or the standard WRX) and the first application in the U.S. of variable valve timing by the company, this flat-four is pleasant and drivable in all circumstances.

    Only the absolute bottom of the engine's rev range feels weak-kneed. To launch it briskly requires a greater-than-usual number of revs. That's due to the tenacious grip of the all-wheel-drive system and the low compression ratio (8.2:1) necessitated by the application of the IHI turbo. Still, the STi was smoother than the Evo off the line. On slow uphill starts, the Mitsubishi habitually filled its cabin with acrid and expensive-smelling clutch stench.

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    With a curb weight identical to the Mitsubishi's (3260 pounds), an axle ratio only slightly less aggressive, and a positive-shifting six-speed manual transmission, the Subaru's extra juice makes it the drag-strip king. One word of warning to those who might try to duplicate our acceleration numbers: Don't. These are not drag racers, and what a stopwatch considers a good start a dealership service department considers a lucrative one. But there it is: a sprint of 4.6 to 60 mph, 0.4-second faster than the Mitsubishi and a figure that's going to be hard to achieve in any car near the STi's $31,520 base price. Our 5-to-60-mph street-start sprint of 5.8 is a more realistic, less-abusive gauge of real-world acceleration. It's all accompanied by a tough-sounding midrange trill of an exhaust note.

    Also, the WRX STi bested the Evolution in our emergency-lane-change test—a measure of a car's transient handling response. This is due to a number of factors, most of them good. First, the STi runs a stiff suspension, limiting body roll; it uses a torque-sensing, limited-slip front differential that helps pull it securely through the second gate under power; and it's fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE070 performance tires that appear to have fewer, and shallower, grooves on their outside shoulders than I have on my face.

    The other less positive reason for its success in the lane change is that the STi is more stable than the Mitsubishi. Nothing wrong with stability. When it comes to minivans, economy cars, and most sedans, stability is the suspension tuner's Holy Grail. It's just that in these cars—cars created solely for the enjoyment of spirited driving—the controlled loss of grip and the ability to rotate the hindquarters is part of the fun. On pavement, the Subaru's bum is resolutely planted. Push the STi reasonably hard into a turn, and the front tires squawk.

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    Now, we're not talking Buick-style understeer here. But despite its power advantage, the STi trailed the livelier-handling Evolution on twisting roads up and down Palomar Mountain in Southern California and on the Streets of Willow road course. And it didn't matter whether we let the car's computer control the center differential, deciding which axle should get power, or we manually adjusted the power split through a console-mounted thumb wheel. The lap times remained essentially the same. Understeer is a major, nearly unforgivable, faux pas for this type of car. Some of this, we suspect, is due to the torque-sensing limited-slip differential. It allows you to fire the car out of corners, but when the power is off, the front end wants to drift to the outside.

    And the steering gear of the STi, which at 15.2:1 is quicker than the standard WRX's, is slow compared with the go-kart-like Evo helm. It makes the STi feel somewhat heavier and larger than it is. In fact, it's smaller in all dimensions than the Evolution.

    The steering wheel is the only part of the upgraded interior that seems the least bit cheesy. The piece of plastic that covers the wheel center and spokes is molded and painted to look like cast metal. Instead, it looks like a piece of plastic trying to look like cast metal. Otherwise, the interior materials have a quality look, and the design is pleasant. The STi-specific gauge package is easy to read, and thanks to a height-adjustable seat, the driving position can be made ideal for all drivers.

    The sport seats are covered in an attractive royal-blue synthetic suede with big side bolsters covered in a black neoprenelike material. Problem is that the hefty-looking side bolsters yield immediately to your weight in hard cornering, forcing you to brace yourself against the door panel.

    Other nits: Those aggressive tires that provide 0.90 g of grip on the skidpad and help the massive four-piston Brembo brakes stop the car in 166 feet from 70 mph also absolutely howl on grainy pavement, often at a frequency that excites every panel in the interior into vibratory ecstasy. And we couldn't even drown out the noise with the stereo because our test car didn't have one. It's an option. Also, the aluminum hood and plastic rear spoiler bounce and bow at speed.

    Still, the STi is an awfully nice piece, with bulldog-tough looks, greyhound speed, and pit-bull grip. And did we mention 300 horsepower? Also, you can house your family of pet squirrels in the hood scoop.

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    First Place - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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    Highs: Quick, communicative steering; telepathic handling; stellar seats; a huge wing that is actually kind of cool.

    Lows: Low-budget interior, harsh ride, weak low-end power.

    The Verdict: In a class of two outstandingly fun cars, this one is more so.


    The highest praise we can bestow on a performance car is this: We feel immediately comfortable driving it quickly. To a man, all three of our testers independently wrote exactly that, literally, in the Evo's logbook.

    Comfort at the limit of a car's performance envelope is a difficult thing to define, being made up of a number of control responses, including steering feel and accuracy, properly spaced gear ratios, a short, firm shifter action, quick transmission synchros, immediate and linear throttle response, a stiff brake pedal mounted for easy heel-and-toe downshifting, sharp turn-in response . . . well, we could go on and on and on.

    It's a combination of these elements that allowed the Evo to narrowly beat the STi.

    On paper, the Evolution doesn't look like such a great proposition. Down 29 horsepower to the STi, it's nominally slower than the Subaru from a standing start. Its transverse-mounted 2.0-liter DOHC in-line four is turbocharged to within an inch of its life with a maximum of 19.5 pounds of boost. Consequently, its power delivery is, at best, uneven. At low speed, there's a two-second gap between throttle application and full turbo boost. Then the engine virtually explodes with power, the turbo hissing in sinister fashion.

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    For example, because we waited forever for turbo boost to come on during our 30-to-50-mph top-gear acceleration test, the Evo's time was a bog-slow 11.7 seconds; compare that with the similarly powerful Nissan 350Z's 9.1 sprint in the same test. With the revs up and the Evo's turbo spinning in earnest, as in the 50-to-70-mph top-gear test, the Evo posts a more reasonable 8.5 seconds, edging out the Z's 8.6. It may not deliver its power in a linear fashion or be a match for the Subaru's engine, but you have to admit it's exhilarating.

    Neither is the Evo's ride quality quite as good as the STi's. Realistically, both these cars will beat you—and themselves—silly on Snowbelt roads. This is because, in addition to severely stiff suspensions and low-profile tires, both cars have had their suspension bushings replaced by material with the compression characteristics of granite. These cars will pick up and announce loudly every gritty bit of pavement, every swaying grain, every pimple and wrinkle. We suspect serious shoppers in this class will know what they're getting into.

    What makes the Evo feel nervous and harsh on poor roads (the noncompliant suspension and the go-kart-quick steering) makes it ideally suited to a fine, smooth run. Its turn-in is immediate and certain. Its small-diameter steering wheel transmits more useful feedback than does the Subaru's larger wheel. Its handling balance is nearly perfect, able to drift, rotate, and hang with you through all but the most ham-fisted moves. The overall tire grip of the Evo is no greater than the STi's, and so it was the balance of the Evo that allowed it to go faster enough around the turns of the Streets of Willow to make up for its power deficit on the straight. The quick-shifting five-speed manual's stubby shifter (trust us, you don't need six gears) is exactly where your right hand expects it to be. The brake pedal is firm, and the Brembo stoppers (a nearly identical system to that of the STi) halt the Evo from 70 to 0 mph in an impressive 157 feet.

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    The Evo is not without its shortcomings—it's just that none of them diminishes the ability to have fun in the car. The interior, for the most part, is cheap, with a greasy sheen to the black plastics and an instrument-panel design that looks, well, like what you'd expect in a cheap little sedan. And at a base price of $29,582 (without the $480 carbon-fiber rear wing), the Evo isn't cheap. But it's slightly less expensive than the STi. The dark-red-on-black gauge package is difficult to read. Its back seat has better leg and shoulder room than the Subaru's, but the rear seat bottoms are low and flat and provide no support. The front seats, though, are exceptionally supportive Recaros. As with virtually every other aspect of the car, Mitsubishi spent its money where it counts most, on the driving experience.

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    The 'King of the Hill' Compares Our Cars on the Big Dirty

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    You are not Rod Millen. We are not Rod Millen. Heck, on this day, even Rod Millen wasn't sure if he was Rod Millen.

    How's that? Well, here's what our congenial professional driver had to say after piloting these two cars on a 0.9-mile-long dirt course we'd set up: "After driving that Subaru, I thought, 'Oh, gosh. I've forgotten how to drive.'"

    Okay, he didn't say gosh. Still, this from a man whose credentials on dirt are as expert as any man's in America. The New Zealand native, now 52, and essentially retired from racing, has been the fastest man to the top of the 14,110-foot Pikes Peak six times in a radical Unlimited Class Toyota racer powered by an evolution of Toyota's old and dominant IMSA GTP turbo engine that gushes stratospheric amounts of power. Millen power-slid that four-wheel-drive beast up the snaking 12.42-mile gravel course in a record time of 10 minutes and four seconds in 1994.

    Through the '70s and '80s, Millen dominated rally racing in New Zealand and then in the U.S. He's also earned success in off-road truck racing and endurance road racing. He now focuses on his growing businesses of aftermarket parts for Toyota cars and contract engineering for carmakers and the U.S. military.

    Despite his modest self-deprecation, we felt unnaturally comfortable sitting in the passenger seat as Millen somehow managed to get to 122 mph on the short straight and then dive sideways through the rest of our dusty little course. It was remarkable since neither of our test cars, equipped with aggressive pavement tires and undefeatable anti-lock brakes, comes from the factory prepared for such off-road flogging.

    It's wonderfully humbling to watch a professional at work. It's especially wonderful when his assessment jibes with our own. Millen's did. And these cars do have legitimate roots in rallying. Also, well, it's a bitchin' thing to do.

    The course, a two-lane-wide road made up of fine sand, starts with three well-graded tight turns, opens up to a washboard downhill straight a quarter-mile or so in length, continues over two rises, through a chicane of trees, and to a fast left-hand corner made of a patchwork of old asphalt and dust, and finally ends on an uphill chunk of road.

    With Millen at the wheel, the Mitsubishi Evo was faster, posting a 48.62-second run, during which Millen beat a top speed of 115 mph out of it. The best run in the Subaru STi was 48.89 seconds, with a top speed of 122 mph.

    That the Subaru was faster on the straight and still posted a slower overall time mirrors our experience with lap times around the Streets of Willow road course. Those 29 extra ponies under the Subaru's flapping hood are for real. But the Mitsubishi was significantly faster than the STi through the corners. The understeer we noted on the track and road wasn't the problem on the dirt. Said Millen: "The Subaru just feels a lot more nervous than the Mitsubishi. I'm not as comfortable in it. Its responses are less predictable." And viewed from the passenger seat, Millen was obviously working harder—shuffling the steering wheel madly to correct and recorrect his driving line—to get a decent time from the STi. This was especially true over the patchy asphalt-and-dirt portion near the finish line. Of the STi, he noted, "Power off, this car's nose drifts. When I get back on the power, it feels great. It grips and pulls strongly." Millen pinned much of these shenanigans on the unpredictable torque-sensing, limited-slip front differential and a relatively slow steering ratio, requiring bigger, slower inputs.

    "Don't you sometimes want a slower ratio on the dirt?" we asked. Too kind a man to say, "No, you moron!" he instead replied, "No, for racing, quicker is always better.

    "The Evo is surprisingly different from the Subaru. It's clearly not as powerful, but it's not as nervous, either," Millen continued. "The Mitsubishi is more comfortable to drive at the limit." We believe him because he told us this calmly as we slid smoothly through a sweeping turn at 80 mph. The Evo's lack of a limited-slip front differential might have handicapped it launching out of corners, but it negotiated them faster anyway.

    What did we learn? ABS and dirt don't mix. And, already ravaged by our pavement silliness, the tires on both cars were rounded off smooth after the dirt runs, as if they had been carefully reshaped. The solid stripe of tread that runs down the center of the Subaru's Bridgestones looked, by the end of the dirt portion, like a piece of quarter-round molding. This, and the whole day, were sources of grand amusement to Millen and everyone else—except perhaps Subaru and Mitsubishi. —DP

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  2. smell my finger

    smell my finger strive nonetheless towards beauty and truth,

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    STi or DIE !
     
  3. kellyclan

    kellyclan She only loves you when she's drunk.

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    i haven't seen any STi's yet, but i've seen a few Evos getting down around town. :yum:

    They sound so :yum: :wackit:



    Never thought i'd say that about a Japanese car. :hs: i want one. Do you suppose they sell aftermarket red tail lights? :dunno:
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'll remember that next time someone takes a shot at the C5 because of the interior.
     
  5. 7

    7 First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire.

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    Local dealer has an STi in the showroom, I was suprised.
     
  6. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Both are incredible cars.
     
  7. Dirty Mormon

    Dirty Mormon Guest

    http://www.vwvortex.com/ Has a comparison between the EVO 8, STI, and the R32 (VW's forray into the highperfomance sector.
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Well if that isn't a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is. :eek3:
     
  9. BMW ///M3

    BMW ///M3 Guest

    god damn both those are ugly as hell :eek3:
     
  10. kaldurak

    kaldurak Gimme some sugar baby.

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    I still want the STi over the evo.
     
  11. Jim311

    Jim311 New Member

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    Yeah.. I'm not a fan of either of their stylings. I don't like the wing, but I can deal with the hood scoop. The WRX looks semi-sporty to me, but the Mitsu just looks generic as fuck. Either way, both are completely out of my price range so it really isn't a decision I'd have to make anyway. But if I did have to make it, I think I'd choose the WRX.
     
  12. ChosenGSR

    ChosenGSR Mama always said you'd be the chosen one

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    subi quality > mitsu quality
     
  13. glide

    glide primer

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    aahahahahahhaha
     
  14. dmora

    dmora Guest

    Damn, i like both of them. I prefer VWvortex's comparo with the R32 as well :cool:
     
  15. Red97GST

    Red97GST Guest

    :rolleyes:

    oooh their engines are gonna eXpLodE!!!! 14.5psi= mad turbo lag!





    honestly guys, i mean does the evo EVER lose to comparos against the STi? Scoobie could put 500hp in that bitch and it'll still lose. they ALWAYS complain about understeer, and the only time i've read/seen these guys say they like the WRX over the evo is because of the interior or just the way it suits them.


    Why can't they look like this anymore?

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  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Bump for the day crew.
     
  17. nucl3ar

    nucl3ar Guest

    :rofl: at immigrants under hood scoop
     
  18. dsvtec

    dsvtec I have an LS3 AND an amazingly supple and flowing

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    I saw my first last night. It was sitting on the lot when we dropped my wife's WRX off for service. It was sold already. It looked good.
     
  19. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    interesting :eek3:

    I'd choose the sti over the evo because most of my daily driving is done on long straight highways rather than around a racetrack. Plus i like its looks better.
     
  20. AlkyHauler

    AlkyHauler Do you feel lucky punk? OT Supporter

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    I like the sti better.
     
  21. deadW8

    deadW8 New Member

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    Thanks again to Trishield for this great post. :bigthumb: and I'd still take the STI over the Evo myself.
     
  22. God of Gamblers

    God of Gamblers OT Supporter

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    2yrs, im selling my car and picking one of these up, which ever turns out to be more modable and reliable.
     
  23. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo Guest

    Both :cool: cars.
     
  24. Pro Street

    Pro Street New Member

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    :rofl: no fucking shit :rofl:

    probably the most any 4 cyl gas engine can do. put forged internals and crank the fucker to 30 :o
     
  25. StylinLude

    StylinLude Guest

    it STILL looks a little better than a c5 interior though....i like it better than my uncle's z06 interior too
     

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