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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #141: Killing (the STi) in the name of

In the pilot episode of David Simon's cruelly underrated Treme, a trombone player who has been hired for a funeral "second line" parade inquires as to the identity of the deceased. Upon being given the name, the musician replies, "I thought he been dead."
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-141-killing-the-sti-in-the...
59 REPLIES 59
seinfeldbasslin
Intermediate Driver

ive owned 4 subarus and 3 WRXs, one of which i bought off the showroom floor, and i will never go back after this betrayal. when my S4 kicks the bucket and i need a new daily, i will order a Type R, or CT4-V BW, or whatever vehicle i think will carry the torch of ICE until the world comes back to its senses. but never a subaru- not again.
kyree-williams
Detailer

I completely agree that Subaru doesn't wish to do business with the particular demographic that attracts the STi.

Funnily enough, I thought the same thing when Mazda got rid of the MAZDASPEED3. And now, over the last ten years, we've seen them morph into a quiet, mature, proto-luxury brand, soon to be replete with I6/RWD architectures.

 

Going back to Subaru, I think they want to sell to people in my demographic. I'm a software-engineer and suburban homeowner in his late twenties, with three dogs and a cat. I'm half of an interracial LGBTQ+ couple...and I bought a loaded 2022 Outback Touring XT last year (in white, no less), which my psychotherapist partner drives.

 

But what they don't know is that we're just a little bit crazy, and we might just sell all the feckin' newer cars we own...so we can daily a Bentley Turbo R (for me) and an LS-swapped Mercedes-Benz Estate (for him). That should have the neighbors clutching their pearls.

 

An Outback doesn't reflect anything about either of us other than the fact that we're capable of buying a very competent appliance every now and then.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I think you've very ably demonstrated the problem with marketing to pre-defined groups here. On the other hand, your current pattern of behavior fits in pretty well with the stereotypes, so maybe it's an 80/20 thing? Or maybe we all end up conforming to the most cynical ideas other people have of us, accidentally or purposefully?

In any event, I think what the two of you need is a Continental R.
GianniB
Intermediate Driver

Mazda still has the Miata that they’ve been able to keep true to its roots over 30 years. Hopefully that won’t change. Could you imagine if they were German? The Miata would be a turbo AWD four door “coupe”.
9lbhammer
Advanced Driver

Knowing my luck, they'll change it right after I have the money to buy a new one. Buying used fun cars tends to wig me out a little cause I know the awful things I've done to cars.
RokemRonnie
Instructor

I have nothing against EVs. Maximum torque at stall is kind of cool, but I'm surprised that nobody in the auto industry seems to remember the not-very-long-ago push, particularly in Europe, to replace gasoline ICEs with diesel, because of better fuel economy, only to reverse gears when diesel particulate emissions became an issue. They also seem to be forgetting how Texas and California have recently experienced problems with their electrical grids.
GianniB
Intermediate Driver

I’m guessing the US Rally & Rallycross program with Vermont SportsCar is toast at the end of the year.
Harvey_Mushman
Pit Crew

VSC has already signed up to build electric rallycross cars for the Nitro series...and I believe they've said in the past they will continue in Rally with or without Subaru. Remember, they made a competent/competitive Crosstrek for a privateer in the Chinese rally championship a few years back, so they're able to utilize other existing models as well.
DogGone
Intermediate Driver

I agree, it'll be an interesting next 5 to 10 years as the wizard behind the curtain says "look over here, don't you just love the look and feel of the electric trinkets I offer you?" A classic magician's trick, really. Don't fall for it. Automobiles powered by batteries are not meant to replace those powered by petroleum. Petroleum conferred and continues to confer freedom of mobility to all. Vehicles propelled by batteries (whose energy is almost entirely derived from coal/oil/gas or unreliable solar/wind sources, hydro being the only reliable and clean exception) are meant for the uppermost strata of society. The rest of you? Take the bus.

On a more germane note, I've always regarded Subaru as the least engineering-competent among the Japanese 6. Just terrible engines - and let's admit, the engine is the heart of the car - despite the rah-rah about the boxer architecture, and suspension components that just don't last.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

The book "Where The Suckers Moon" makes this explicit. The furor over "Japanese quality" tends to mask the fact that there is the Honda-Toyota Axis Of Durability, and then there is everyone else. Imagine buying an Impreza in 1990 thinking it would be more reliable than a "Quad OHC" Cavalier!
hyperv6
Racer

They did have a spell of Oil use issues on their engines for a while. 

 

No company is without sin.. My buddy fixes Hondas and owns two planes. 

 

I found Subaru and Mazda as the most interesting companies in Japan over the years. They were not the me to of generic design and style. But today I feel they are not what they once were and much has to do with cost and mergers. 

 

I just got a family member into a Forrester and he loves it. He is getting older and his 911 is getting harder to get in and out of so he has enjoyed his new car. 

But on the other hand his old vehicle was a S 10 that lasted near 25 years and 300,000 miles. It only needed brakes, Clutch, tires and one water pump. It even looked pretty good till the engine finally just was losing power. Not bad for a Cavalier engine. 

DaveA
Instructor

Terrible engines? I worked for Subaru for quite some time (and owned many of them) and I never thought any of the engines were terrible. Quirky? Sure. Problematic? One or two of them. But not terrible. Heck most of them had no problem getting to 150k or more with little more than standard maintenance.
Power6
New Driver

While I think some of the reputation is undeserved (people will be saying "them head gaskets!" forever!) I owned a 2009 WRX from new for 5 years as well as bought a 2005 Outback XT used and owned for 4 years until it killed itself. I was into the community. While confined to the turbo motors as that's the only Subaru I am interested in, I observed Subaru is a smaller company without the engineering and resources to back up their products, just my observations:

1.) For 2-3 months in late 2008, Subaru installed contaminated rod bearings in the STI and WRX motors. The community figured it out by tracking engine failures and build dates. Subaru replaced motors that blew under the warranty period for those lucky enough to have them fail on the early side. Did they replace they other ones that a bunch of amateurs on the Internet "knew" were at risk? No they did not. Must've been too expensive to do that.

2.) Turbo oil feed filter screens were installed to limit damage under warranty starting circa 2005. Those screens would clog up over time, starve the turbo bearings and kill it. It was such an epically known problem I removed the screen on my brand new 2009. For some reason I was dumb and didn't address it on the used Outback XT. Took out the turbo at 85k miles. I had a buddy with an 05 Legacy GT bough new and babied, his started making the "swirly straw" noise a little over 100k, I got him over to my house ASAP and we removed the screen. Subaru never addressed that problem on the EJ motor.

3.) Many little things pop up often enough as problems, ring lands causing engine failures, strange engine tuning (anyone with an EJ25T in the later years with a stick knows the "stutter" accelerating under high load). The 5-speed gearbox was OK but required Subaru to use very low angle gear teeth, almost "straight cut" gears for 1st and 2nd hence the distinctive whine of those transmissions, to make a very old design cope with modern power.

I don't know if it was the nature of Subaru not having the scratch for new designs, the entire driveline was all old engineering. Or is it the complexity of die casting and other specifics required for the boxer design. I can only speculate. Maybe it's better now, I left the community about the time the new FA/FB motors came out, but I didn't feel good with the immediate oil consumption issues cropping up (apparently 1qt of oil lost every 1000mi or something like that is "OK" per Subaru)

I'm driving a Volvo now. It's got a super and turbocharged 4 cylinder. Engine problems I see reported in the communities? None. I'm sure the european gremlins will come, I've had a few things fixed under warranty. But they don't seem to have trouble with the basics of designing a driveline that is solid and doesn't make you worry hearing tales of woe from others.
wdb
Advanced Driver

I'm with you on the Subaru quality thing. Terrible engines? Just ask my granola-ish neighbor, who has had 3 (THREE!) shortblocks in her Forester -- so far. At least SoA is footing the bill. We had a 2000 Legacy that was okay except for the engine and of course wheel bearings. Our 2005 STi used oil right off the lot; in its defense, it used exactly the same amount of oil at 117K miles as it did when it was new. That actually was a reliable car, one of the few Subarus I know of that comes near the Toyota/Honda level in that regard.

But damn, that STi was fun. With 4 winter tires and 3 limited slip differentials, it was so good in snow that I would play hooky from work just to go play.
ATLpaul
Detailer

I really think Toyota has played its cards very well.

It wants to be Chevy.
It has positioned Subaru to be some kind of GMC thingy in Japanese way.
It has positioned Mazda to be the little zoom zoom Pontiac thingy.
It has Lexus as its Caddy brand.
And probably its soon to be BVZ line will be their Saturn line.

Just missing not my father's Oldsmobile and a Chinese targeted brand (Buick) to complete the lineup.
hyperv6
Racer

And where did that get GM? 

 

The only reason Toyota got Subaru and Mazda was due to money issues with each.   To be honest I feel other than keeping Subaru alive it has done more harm than good. 

 

The wider spread a company is today often the product suffers as they try to contain cost. To this point VW is pretty much the only one to not fall into this trap yet. 

 

Toyota was banking on Hybrids but then they finally have had to cave in and move to EV. They are a little behind but they have the money and staff to over come it. 

 

The real question is what will be come of Mazda and Subaru as they lose their individual identity. At this point I will be shocked if the Miata survives unless they get someone to share the platform. I think Fiat is out on the next. 

 

Heck even the BRZ Subaru was just a warmed over Toyota. Sad but the waters are getting deluded. 

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

"Heck even the BRZ Subaru was just a warmed over Toyota."
Go find a Toyota part in that car, why dontcha.
I'll wait.
hyperv6
Racer

0913B0DF-DB96-4335-8861-2FE1C2FE800A.jpegC66607C7-3BCF-48A0-A483-F971E39CA8BE.jpegJack where would you like to start. 

Look they did nothing more than GM did with the F body GM cars. Add a different engine and dash and new emblems on slightly different body panels. 

If there was no Toyota there would be no Subaru. 

To be honest the Subaru to me is a better car of not identical but far from fraternal twins. 

hyperv6
Racer

Dupe

 

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

The BR-Z and FR-S/86 both have:

Subaru engine
Subaru transmission
Subaru wheel spacing, offset
Subaru interior pieces
Subaru seats
Assembly by Subaru, at Gunma
If you take a BR-Z apart, you will find that virtually all the parts are stamped Subaru. I have never seen anything in the dozens of these cars I have driven and crewed to indicate that Toyota did anything but put a badge on it.
hyperv6
Racer

Still basically the same car and if one did not exist the other to would not exist.

 

They see like a 65 GTO and a Chevelle SS. 

 

Different engines

could be different transmissions

wheel spacing is very weak

different sects and interiors

Assembled in different plants 

 

But still much of the platform and bones are still the same. In fact in the photo if you changed the emblems on both cars few would Linwood which is which. 

Subaru I feel made a better version of the same car. 

Nothing wrong with what they did. In fact they did a great job of making two different versions of the same car. 

Jack I never said they badged engineered. I agree they are not badged engineered as identical cars. But they are based on the same platform and they are more related than they are not. 

Please don’t get over sensitive on this. 

The Miata and Fiat are the same car but two different versions of it. Just like a 68 Camaro and Firebird. Both are different but also share the same bones. Even different ride heights but still basically the same car. 

 

miata93
Advanced Driver

Re: SNL, Nice floor mats Mr. Iacocca !!

CJinSD
Instructor

The twins are definitely too much Subarus for me to consider, but I do believe that the 6-speed manual used in all of them is a development of the Aisin transmission used in a few Lexus IS models. In the form used in the BRZ and 86, it is called the Toyota TL70 transmission. 

ATLpaul
Detailer

GM pre Roger Smith was the largest and most successful company on Earth. The accountants made GM go the wrong way. I don't see that happening with Toyota at this point.
hyperv6
Racer

I hate to break the news but GM started to fail in the 60’s. 

Poor management not accountants are what hurt GM. The accountants just tried to pay for the poor management decisions over the years. 

GM was a very large strong company that worked as one years ago under Sloan. But as time went on the Sloan program was failing and the management failed to adjust to new markets. 

GM’s divisions worked against each other vs together yo compliment each other. They had no clue what to do with Pontiac  when they removed their own engine and engineering. 

I am a GM fan and relative to a GM executive that showed me just where things were going south. 

Toyota has better management if anything they are too conservative but if you are going to make a mistake that is the better move than the wrong or no move at all. . 

GianniB
Intermediate Driver

I don’t think Mazda will let the Miata die. The NE will be an upgraded ND like the NB was to the NA.
hyperv6
Racer

Hard to say. I expect it yo carry on for a while yet on the present platform. But to do a new Gen they will need a new dance partner as Fiat will not be there to share. 

The wild card is this dill be around the time they will be converting yo EV or Hybrid and both are not easy yo do in a small light sports car. To invest heavily would be tough at low volume too. 

Busness cases for sports cars are tough at low volume and price at times of increased spending. 

I could see a time out and then bring it back in a few years. But this is 8 to 10 years from now.

 

We will see a tough time for any low cost small sports cars with pending changes as spending will be focused on core products. 

fueledbymetal
Advanced Driver

“I personally think that we are about five years away from running headlong into the very real consequences of trying to jerry-rig (apologies to my fellow Germans, but not really) an EV infrastructure on the unstable foundation of a failing national electric grid, exceptionally fragile supply chains for the requisite raw materials, and the intrinsic limitations of current EV capabilities.”

Former 2002 WRX owner from new & I couldn’t agree more. 🍺
86Zed
Pit Crew

I now find myself a day late and dollar short in putting my money towards companies pushing out enthusiast grade metal. The younger pair of us purchased a Scion (hey, remember them!) FRS, BMW 228i, Mazda Miata RF, and VW GTI over the years. A hatchback WRX would have entered that mix if dealerships could stop tripping over themselves and take young people seriously as buyers.

Somewhere along the way I learned about depreciation. Now all I want to do is wind back the clock and buy a time capsule RWD wagon. I'll settle for AT now but the only decent products are $65K+. Saving my pennies for a brave engineering team to pull a fast one on marketing - looking at you Mazdaspeed Miata or BMW wagon (Hyundai, genesis??)
Swamibob
Technician

So, Toyota bought Subaru and Mazda? Wow, my plan to become completely ignorant of the current Automobile Companies and their products is working extremely well. 🙂
Oh, look, it's' time to go work on the '67 El Camino that's currently in the shop.
MeJ
Advanced Driver

I'm pretty sure Toyota owns only a percentage of Subaru. I didn't know about Mazda though.
drm101
Detailer

We just bought a nice used 2015 WRX because our 19 year old talked us into it. It has the CVT. It's our first Japanese vehicle. We also own an '05 Grand Cherokee and '08 Ram truck. Both with Hemi's. In my younger days I drove a Shelby Charger GLHS. The WRX, to me, is the modern version of the GLHS. I have to admit that I love driving it. There are times I get sick of the hard seats and stiff suspension, especially here in Michigan. Then I take the Grand Cherokee instead.
Subaru built the WRX, in my opinion, because they thought people would like it. They created a market for it. The same will happen if they make electric cars. I'll be ready in about 20 years, when I'm 75.
erne75
Advanced Driver

Well, you definitively bought the wrong transmission...
03CobraVert
Pit Crew

Jack,

Thanks for having the courage and conviction to express your views, especially in these cancel culture times. I too lament Subaru's decision regarding the future of the STI. And while I cannot offer a rebuttal to Subaru's reluctance to evolve the WRX since its inception, I would like to make a point regarding its relevance. I purchased a 2019 WRX Premium 6MT new in May of that year as my daily driver, after a variety of **bleep** boxes and AWD hand me downs from my wife, who always got the new vehicle (currently a 2021 F150 Lariat Super Crew, big EcoBoost, etc...). To me, it is the greatest daily driver ever for those of us who do not just wish to commute, but who wish to enjoy the commute itself, and who are firmly middle class financially. It is reasonably fast, and fun to drive that way. While far from luxurious it will carry four adults in relative comfort, and with the rear seats folded down it holds a respectable amount of cargo. I have a dedicated set of winter wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Alpins, and a half of foot of snow or less presents no drama whatsoever. More than that and I'm staying home anyway. I average around 23 mpg driving in a fairly spirited manner, and have gotten 33 on longer highway trips. All this for just over $27k out the door. Had Subaru upped the performance relative to the other cars you mention in your article, that price tag would surely have risen accordingly. I guess the point I'm trying to make is about perception. As a performance sedan, the WRX may not make sense or be relevant. But as a small fun to drive sedan for all seasons at a reasonable price it is very competitive. Thanks for doing what you do Jack, and thanks to your employer for letting you.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Agreed on all counts. The WRX makes a reasonable case for itself at the price. A proper STi would make an even better case for itself... but we can't make people do what they don't want to do, right?
Poorish_pcarguy
Pit Crew

Recently traded my 2021 Ram etorque Hemi for a 2022 Outback XT touring. The Outback is quicker, gets 22mpg vs 14mpg and goes down the same gravel roads more comfortably. The mountain bikes on the hitch mounted rack are actually easier to load and unload, especially for my 12 yo who couldn’t reach the skyscraper height bed of the Ram. The Outback has been reliable (albeit over a very short ownership period) whereas the Ram would randomly shut off and fail to restart. The Outback is not “fun to drive”, but I have a 997 for that. However, even with the (horrid) CVT it’s more engaging than a full size truck. Stereotypes are usually an amalgamation of multiple logical fallacies and I think that’s the case here. By the way, my 2016 WRX was one of the worst cars I’ve ever owned (slow, rattly, weird torque drop off).
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It sounds like we have different use cases. I often travel with one full-sized DH bike that won't fit on any hitch rack I've seen, two enduros (for me and the kid), and two dirt-jumpers (for me and the kid). When we have two DJs I'll use the hitch rack on my Accord, but the only hitch racks that can really handle DH bikes and 29er enduros are the verticals like Lolo. I don't know how smart it would be to put one of them on a unibody car; you'd have 350 pounds of tongue weight hanging 2.5 feet off the receiver.
drhino
Technician

All we can do is hope that there will be some automakers that continue with internal combustion (and manual transmissions for real dinosaurs like me)— then just let folks vote with their wallets. This assumes no real ban on internal combustion— probably a pipe dream.
SBrier
New Driver

As a retired academic I am especially interested in your very interesting verbal wordplay in this article. What the hell is a “Trustafarian-Trotskyite granola redwood-and-Patagucci lifestyle”?
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Since you're retired, you should come out to Lake Tahoe with us this summer for the downhill season; as the justice once said about prurient material, you'll know it when you see it.
Lash
Intermediate Driver

Nice backward thoughts.
Flashman
Technician

You are the most entertaining, insightful, politically-incorrect rabble-rouser I can imagine. And yet you do it while avoiding sinking to the bottom. Always a treat to have my mind expanded non-chemically by reading your work. The last paragraph is magic. Not to mention "Trustafarian-Trotskyite granola redwood-and-Patagucci lifestyle..." or "...increasingly insane and ersatz affectation of woodsy skinny-fat cosplay..." et al. I liked Treme too.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I owned a 2004 WRX Wagon in WR Blue (of course) which I traded in for a 2005 Legacy GT Wagon. The Legacy GT Wagon got the JDM Spec.B wagon shocks and springs and bigger sway bars. I did the Cobb Stage one and eventually Stage 2 tune on that car when I did the exhaust. Such a fun car and it routinely embarrassed big money high hp cars in the turns. We bought my wife a 2008 Impreza 2.5i hatch because it would save on gas versus the WRX. Reality it barely saved on gas and we wished we had the horsepower of the WRX. My parents because of us got the 2009 Forester XT. The 2008 was the first to go and got traded in 2015 for a 2013 Lexus IS 350, my 2005 got replaced by a 2018 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport which I sold at the end of the lease. My parents 2009 got traded in for a Hyundai Tuscon. How did we go from lots of subarus to none? Really easy. The 2005 somewhere around 2017 was about to turn into a massive money pit with all the usual subaru problems showing signs of making an appearance. Electrical, mechanical, gaskets, etc. I was done with that but really wanted to replace it but subaru had nothing as good as my old Legacy GT wagon. Outback? No turbo. Forester XT? Turbo yes, but slower than my Legacy GT was stock and had a horrible CVT. Once CVT's took over Subaru was dead to me. I needed a car so I got a 2018 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport to lease which I really liked and was reluctant to do but the perfect deal popped up so I could not say no. I am waiting on it's replacement to come hopefully this year. My parents 2009? It developed massive oil consumption issues. No obvious leaks or smoke from the tailpipe but the oil was definitely going somewhere. A quart or more a week needed to be added at the end.  We very quickly traded that in while it was running and worth cash for a less fun Hyundai Tuscon which just got replaced late last year with a newer one after getting beat up by a hail storm.

In the whole time we owned Subaru I watched Subaru make zero progress in terms of performance. Sure the newer chassis were better but as was said they did not get any quicker. Meanwhile everything else did! CVT's in place of conventional automatics which were worse than the crappy 4-speeds the cars use to have. The 5-speed auto the Legacy had was great but never made it to the Impreza platform. I could not live with the CVT's, the cars didn't get any quicker so I moved on to other cars. Subaru lost what could have been some loyal customers. If I have to choose between a Subaru or a Hyundai or Toyota, Subaru loses every time to me.

GTOGeorge
New Driver

Interesting article Jack. I've owned 2 Outbacks, 1 Crosstrek, 1 WRX and 2 STis. At this point, I really don't see much difference between the STi and Outback turbo in terms of power. Sure, there is a difference but the excitement of driving and owning the STi has been dropping. I've been looking at Infinity and KIA Stinger, and a few other brands that have more luxury and power, and that really handle winter conditions. I have a couple old Pontiac GTOs that are OVER 50 years old and still provide more power and excitement than the STi. Good thing about the STi is that it is a sports car that I can drive all round.

Also totally agree with your stance on EV. In Canada there is a push to move to electric, but no incentive. I live in the country and really question where I will be able to charge other my home. There has been no effort to beef up the electric grid either. And those charging stations in the far corners of malls and such, they seem to be either submerged after rain storms, or used as a place to pile snow by the plows.
erne75
Advanced Driver

I still remember fondly my 04 STi that I bought brand new after I totaled my 96 300zx TwinTurbo. The car was lots of fun and always attracted attention everywhere it went. My girlfriend complained that there was no stereo system while I tried to explain that it was to keep the weight down. She wasnt amused...After it was stolen in 2008 I went in a different direction but always kept tabs on Subaru. For a time I even toyed with the idea of buying a Legacy 2.5GT. Unfortunately they have been progressively targeting the woke generation to the point that now every time I see them the old "Ha, gayyyy!!!" clip comes to mind.
Dad_jokes
Detailer

Here’s Baruth trying to act like the heppest cat around.
Treme couldn’t be more highly rated. 96% Rotten Tomatoes critic avg, 89% viewer rating. IMDb is 8.3%.
There just weren’t enough full-of-it, pompous assholes interested in watching.
Baruth is like Jimmy McNulty w/o the roguish charm; always feeling the need to prove himself to be the smartest man in the room, with the broadest pop culture knowledge, and claims to be some great racer and car expert.
Dude called his accord a musclecar. You can’t be smart, clever, or knowledgeable in that situation
He also penned this most hackneyed paragraph:
“Trustafarian-Trotskyite granola redwood-and-Patagucci lifestyle where men with 15-inch necks flailed through noncompetitive outdoor activities…”
“One of your humble (cough bull**bleep**)-but-hateful author’s greatest pleasures in life is to…watch the Outback/Crosstrek crowd writhing with the effort of getting their bicycles and gear off and out of their jacked-up economy cars while I simply pull my Guerilla Gravity Megatrail…”
Hey, Ed. When a writer opens a sentence in the third person and switches to first, this passes muster today?
Jack Baruth, what a maroon
Rider79
Technician

I hope to start a Jack Baruth fan club; wanna be a founding member?
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Props for using a "Wire" reference to beat me up about "Treme".

Of course the Accord is the last musclecar. If it isn't, what is?
CJinSD
Instructor

The inescapable failure of the EV infrastructure is a feature for the people forcing us out of automobiles.