Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Scoobie Rex And The 3.

Let's call this very preliminary research having nothing better to do concerning future automobile purchases within the next year or three. Unless a dramatic change occurs a small sedan/sportwagon seems the most likely candidate for my Wheels of Doom.

Subaru Impreza WRX: Scoobies, Rex, the WRX whatever you call it those in the know are aware of the fun nature of this beast. The silver all-wheel drive wagon was an '05 and the dealer was wanting to get rid of it. The 06's are coming and EVERYTHING MUST GO! The only difference between the two is Subaru upgrading the engine from a WRX only 2.0L flat four to the more common 2.5L flat four found throughout the Subie fleet. Ah yes going to a big block for more scoot, not uncommon.

This WRX was well equipped: sunroof, STi short throw shift lever, additional turbo boost gauge all for an MSRP of $26K, but EVERYTHING MUST GO! I stalled it in the parking lot. Twice. Every clutch is different and finding the friction zone takes experience. Besides I didn't know how high I had to rev the engine to make sure it didn't stall out. This thing is fast. The unlimited torque made the WRX move smartly without the need to downshift. EVERY gear had power to spare. It was weird to be on the interstate, pass traffic in 5th, and not require a quarter-mile of empty space behind me to allow traffic to catch up.

Some say the WRX has a very intrusive engine noise coming into the passenger compartment. I say it is a performance oriented growl from the flat four. I'm curious how the standard shifter performs as the performance short throw STi shifter I found somewhat annoying. I did get better with it further in the test drive. The sunroof is nice. Opening the hood and looking at things that aren't the cylinder heads is a very odd experience. All major fluids are easy to access and well marked.

"You know I need to get this wagon out of here. With rebates and good dealing we can get this close to 20 grand." If I had any source of regular income I would have sold my soul to get the keys to the silver turbo wagon with all-wheel drive.

Mazda 3s: The front drive dark red wagon was almost perfect. Being down 67 HP and 67 lb-Ft of torque was not a problem as the 3 is over 350lbs lighter than the WRX. All-wheel drive adds weight. With objective instruments the WRX will perform better in almost every way, but my miscalibrated buttmeter didn't notice a difference. The leather seats were very comfy. The 3's manual shifter felt vastly superior to the Subaru's. The shifts fell naturally into place. Once again, superior power felt available regardless of what gear I was in. Passing traffic in 4th or 5th made no difference. Engine noise is far quieter in the Mazda. Dodging between semis and SUVs on the interstate was easy. The 3 is so nimble you almost will it into a space.

The interior was fine and all control buttons were easy to reach. The Knight Rider inspired radio was interesting to look at. The louder the volume the more lights activated. The mute button on the steering wheel was an interesting feature. It didn't turn off the radio, merely silenced it. On a perfect 78 degree day the sunroof was wonderful.

At $21K MSRP this 3 was nearly fully loaded with leather, sunroof, Bose stereo. The only obvious item missing was the nav screen. Bah, people are too dependent on those anyway. Ditch the lux items while keeping the performance goodies and MSRP comes down to around $18.5K.

WINER: Tough call here. Both vehicles are very capable performance-wise. Both are comfy on the inside with good ergonomics concerning the control buttons, levers, and knobs. Both are highly functional as little wagons where other people and cargo are a concern. If you demand rally inspired absolute performance the Subaru WRX is your vehicle. If you want bang for the buck, the Mazda 3 will leave you smiling all the way to the bank.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.