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Discussion Starter #1
With the ETA of the STi coming up soon (we hope), and with my refundable deposit sitting in the dealers bank account for 6 months now, I decided to try to verify that the STi is indeed what I want in my next ride. As the current owner of a WRX, I do believe the STi is going to elevate all the great qualities of the WRX to a new level. However, being that we are living in a time where some of the best cars ever built are available, I decided to check out what everyone else has to offer.

The only criteria I selected was a modicum of performance, rear wheel or all wheel drive, some level of limited availability, a back seat, and less than 40K in price. The cars I selected were the Evolution, Mustang Cobra, and G-35 Coupe. I did not consider items like stereo, climate control, navigation, etc., as for my purposes they are superfluous.

Before anyone jumps on the band wagon, I realize I can't do a real comparison and agree that bench racing an un-driven, new-model car (the STi) against these others is fruitless as anyone who has drive a WRX knows that the driving experience far outweighs words to describe it. Therefor, I'll compare it to the WRX as I'll assume the STi will retain all of it's better qualities.

I let each dealer know that I had a deposit down on the STi, but that I wanted to cross shop before I took delivery to be sure I was getting the best performance bang for my buck, along with a car I could live with as a daily driver.

I went to test drive all 3 yesterday and here are my impressions:

Evo: They had a canary yellow one on the showroom floor. About 31K with only two options (sorry...can't remember what they were). First impression is it is a good looking car. Even the rear wing looks ok, and the CF definitely is a nice touch. Interior is acceptable, but I don't know what all the fuss is about the recaro seats. I honestly believe the WRX seats fit better. I'm 5'10 and about 185lbs, and the WRX seat feels perfect. The side bolsters on the Evo do not extend out as far as the WRX, so I was a bit disappointed there. <this makes me wonder about the STi seats being "widened" for the North American market> The shifter was pretty tight and gear selection was about perfect, with the selection easy and fluid both up and down. The clutch take-out was a bit light for my tastes, and the pedals were standard rubber tread, so slippage would be a factor here. The entire interior was plain, with textures and plastic on par with something in the 15-20K range. Steering wheel felt great, and lock to lock was very short. The exterior was OK, but there was a noticeable misalignment on the hood, with about a 1/4" difference in the gaps between left and right nose column to the lip of the hood. Even more noticeable was the front left A-pillar's bottom seam was about 1/2" and the front right A-pillar bottom seam was about 1/4". Almost like the car had been hit in the right front corner and then repaired. The Brembos looked great, but I didn't care for the appearance of the rims. Driving? What drive. The dealer wouldn't let it out of the showroom. Even after explaining to him my reasons for driving it, and that I am 42 years old, could easily buy 4 or 5 of them if I so desired, and that I would respect an RPM limit as the car wasn't broken in, he just kept shaking his head. I even let him know my preference was for a different color and would he call me to test drive one when it came in? Nope "Not the way we do things with the Evolution" :eek: <can you hear the trumpets in the background>. I respectfully pointed out that I was the customer and he was the seller, but that didn't phase him either. Soooo...I just informed him that I too did not do business that way, shook his hand, let him know that if he changed his mind to call me, handed him my card and walked out. I can't really rate the car as I wasn't able to drive it. But to be honest, with salesmanship like that, I can only imagine what follow up service is like.

Next stop was the Mustang Cobra. They had two on the lot (with 3 Saleens right next to them). Prices were 34K and 35 K, with the difference being one had chromed rims. The exterior was actually a bit smoother than I was used to for a mustang. The rear wing is actually more of a large lip now, and when compared to the GT, Mach1, or 6 cylinder, looks much nicer. I still hate the faux side vents but that is a personal thing. The tires are HUGE, and the rims satisfactory. Exterior fit was very good, with nothing out of alignment. Interior was not too bad, with the seats not quite as supportive as the WRX and obviously made with larger people in mind. The power controller for the drivers side was very strange, (combo of lever and buttons and located where you can't see it) but I'm sure I could get used to it after owning. The fabrics and plastic were OK, but again, probably not up to par for a mid 30's priced car. The clutch take-out was just about perfect, but a bit too much effort to hold in the down position for extended periods. The shifter throws were very tight and close, with no position indicator (which I think is necessary for any tight 6 speed). One thing I didn't like on the ergonomics was even with the seat bottomed out, my forward view was obstructed at the top by the low overhead of the roof where it meets the window. Driving? "Why yes sir, here are the keys...lets go". No problems with the dealership there. As a previous owner of 2 GTs, 1 T-bird Turbo, 1 T-bird SC, and a 99 Lightning, I thought I would be familiar with the power and handling of the Cobra. Let me just say there is a night and day difference. SVT really did their job well on this car. Acceleration is there, in any gear you want. The torque range on this car must be huge, as even in 4th gear at 30 MPH, the car still accelerates with authority. I limited my RPMs to 4K, but even so, the tires broke loose every time right around 3 grand in 1st gear. Shifting was easy, but twice I lost track of what gear I was in, which is a credit to the torque of the car, and granted, I wasn't familiar enough with the tight shifter. Long term owners will likely be able to tell by feel what gear they are in. For handling, the car was way beyond my expectations. I suspect it will slalom with the best of them with minimal body roll, incredible traction, and believe it or not, no cowl shake or juddering on large bumps and uneven surfaces. The independent rear in this thing totally changes its character. Again, I am impressed with SVT...they know their stuff. Dealer said I could take delivery on my choice of colors (white, black or silver) within 3 to 4 weeks with a $500 refundable deposit.

The last car to drive was a G35 coupe, 6MT. I got lucky and found a place where they had one that a customer had dropped out on. As I was leaving, they sold it over the phone. These things are very hard to find. This one was bright red and listed for about 37K (Premium package and aero kit were only options) Now as everyone already knows...these cars are sexy and it is very easy to be seduced by their looks alone. Sits very low, musclecar shoulders and just very different from anything else out there. Cudo's to the Infiniti/Nissan designers. Exterior was above standard for fit and finish, with no imperfections that I could find. The rims were very nice, but looked a bit heavy. They could probably fit more tire in the wells, but not too bad a fit when stock. This one had the aero kit, but I felt the rear wing broke up the lines of the car too much. The interior was nice, above the Cobra and the Evo as you would expect. Don't like the clock in the dash, but that is an Infiniti thing so it could be lived with. Seats were very supportive, but again, the side bolsters could be more aggressive. 6 way power adjustable, heated, with memory though is hard to argue against. The shifter was OK, just a bit vague for my own preference. Clutch take out was waaaay to light for me, but some people like this. Fabric and materials were nice. This one had the aluminum strips replaced with wood trim. I like this better as the aluminum/titanium looked a bit fake in the sedans that I could see. Driving? This is one sweet ride. It pulls like a V-8 and the sound is suuuweeet!! Easily flips the rear out with throttle application. Again though, the shifter felt a bit vague. Steering was about perfect, but might have needed just a tad more boost at higher speeds. The sound isolation and suspension bushings was too good/soft for my tastes, as it was too easy to get up to higher speeds without audible/tactile feedback to warn you off. Overall, a very impressive car.

As I said, the Evolution can't be rated as I couldn't drive it, so I'll leave that out.

Between the Cobra and G-35....surprisingly a very tough choice. I went in with some bias towards the G-35, but the Mustang really impressed me. I still can't get over the torque and handling of the car. My final thoughts are still a bit divided. Love the G-35s looks and handling, but the torque of the Mustang is hard to compete with.

I've posted this here to help me put my thoughts in order and to offer the opportunity for others who have driven these cars to give me feed back. I'd really appreciate your comments on these cars also, as I prefer real world feedback as opposed to magazine feedback. These guys are becoming to removed from the real world for my tastes so let me know what YOU think.

Also, any other suggestions for other cars to cross shop against would be appreciated. Considered but discarded were the Maxima (not enough performance) the 350Z (no rear seat), a BMW 3 series (to many on the road) and all of the standard 4 cylinder front wheel drive cars (won't own a front wheel drive "sports" car).

Lastly, I still plan on getting the STi, just so you know. But until I take a drive in it, I won't know for sure.

Regards,
Scott
 

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Nice review. I was getting my hopes up reading about the EVO, and then...........no test drive. I wish someone would tell me how stiff the ride actually is in that car. I know it is stiffer than the STi according to all the mags, but we all know that this is a relative thing. The 2 things that really attract me to this car are its quick steering ratio and the exterior looks (i prefer it to STi). The big negative is the interior (and you confirmed it) as well as that it is a Mitsubishi.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the compliment. After I re-read it, it appears a bit long-winded but I was on a run...what can I say.

I was looking forward to driving the Evo also. Talk about ego-itis. The salesman and manager both thought the Evo was the second coming. They didn't even know any specs like brakes, rim size, compression. The salesman couldn't even locate the turbo!! Not trashing the Evo you understand, but I wonder if Mitsubishi understands the association these bad sales tactics have on the car itself. It certainly ranks in my book. I still intend to find an Evo that I can drive, but the prospects look harder.

Scott
 

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I had a chance to test drive an Evo yesterday. At first, the dealership was EXTREMELY hesitant to let me drive it (the same story of 'We don't do the Evo that way here'). There were three in the showroom (black, white, and yellow) and a fourth on the lot. I took a closer look at the black one on the lot, and noticed that it already had 250 miles on it, so SOMEONE had been driving it. I pointed this out to the salesman, who got the general sales manager, and we spoke for a while. A copy of driver's license and insurance card later, I was driving the car. I think I got lucky :)

I will also have to compare to what I've been driving for the last 18 months, a stock 2002 WRX sedan.

I have to agree that the interior is nothing special, considering the price of the car. YBnormal07 described it pretty well. The seats felt 'different' than a WRX, but I was not uncomforatble. The clutch is A LOT different than a WRX. The best way I can descibe the Evo is to say that your left foot seems to be positioned funny when you drive. In the WRX, you have to move your whole left leg to get the clutch in and out. In the Evo, you want to just bend your ankle, but that's not really enough to get the clutch out right. When you move your whole leg like in the WRX, the clutch can come out too fast. I don't think I'd want to drive this car in stop-and-go traffic too much.

The speedometer is to the far left and the tach is in the middle. In order to get the right placement of the steering wheel (up and down), I had to partially block my view of the speedometer. It was irritating. The guages were nowhere as neat looking as the STi (I like the way the guages in the STi are all dark and then come on when you turn the key). The manual/auto IC spray is to the driver's right, down close to the parking brake. It seemed an odd place to put the IC spray switch.

Adjusting the driver's seat back was a pain as well. In order to adjust the tilt of the seat back, you have to turn a little knob to your left and rear, near the base of the seat. It was hard to get my hand down in that little space and then grasp the adjustment wheel with enough torque to get it to move. I like the lever in the WRX better.

The lock to lock on the steering wheel is nice. The steering wheel itself is smaller than the MOMO in a WRX. It felt nice. But once again, the STi model is better looking. All I really require is the leather wrapping; I've found that, for me, a leather wrapped steering wheel is a necessity (it just 'feels right').

OK...to the fun part, the actual drive. After getting a little more used to the way the clutch worked, I found the actual driving/shifting experience to be great. I couldn't help but have a smile on my face. The shifting is very smooth, much smoother than the 2002 WRX. I don't have the short throw in the WRX, so I can't compare to it. The acceleration was pretty nice as well, a definite improvement from the 217 HP engine in the WRX. Car and Driver was correct about the turbo lag; it's noticeable alright. It's almost like you need to get the car up to 3K - 3.5K before the turbo actually kicks in. When it does, though, you know it. There was no noticeable pull during acceleration or braking, and the braking felt good as well. Car and Driver also said that the STi did 0-60 in 4.6, and the Evo did it in 5.0. If that is the case, all other things being equal, when I get my STi, I'm going to have a perma-grin for quite a while. The acceleration in the Evo was more than acceptable, and if the STi is better, OMFG.

The handling in the Evo is EXCELLENT. If you're the kind of driver that likes the car to do exactly what you ask it to when you turn the steering wheel, this car will not let you down. I had (a while ago) a '91 or '92 Eclipse Turbo (no AWD though), and it handled niceley as well. After driving the WRX again, I can say that I miss the way the Evo handled. The salesman with me (who had never previously been able to go out on a test drive of the Evo) 'mistakenly' called out where we needed to turn a little late at an intersection. I was doing about 40 at the time, and there was no one around to hit, so I nicely asked the car to turn 90 degrees to the right. It did not flinch or hesitate. There was no understeer. It took the turn perfectly. I did not feel 'thrown around' in the Evo when I did this either. The WRX would not have behaved as well, I think. And I think it must sit a little higher because it's not too hard to feel the G's in the WRX when cornering sharply or doing the twisty road thing at decent speeds. I hardly noticed that I was turning in the Evo. The same when going in and out of traffic that was in the way. In the Evo, you simply spot the opening in the traffic (all 2 cars length of it, if that much) and ask the car to get into the opening. I'm having a hard time describing this; all I can say is that I can't wait to see if the STi handles as nicely as the Evo.

The black shows fingerprints, a lot of fingerprints. I have a black STi on order, and I think I like the STi black better. Those gold flakes in the paint are going to look nice, worth the time it will take to keep a black car looking clean. The Evo was just plain black. The yellow, however, is sharp with the carbon trim on the spoiler. And no fingerprints :). I had sworn that I'd never own a yellow car, but something about the overall look was persuading. I also like the lack of hood scoop on the Evo.

*****WARNING*****
This concludes the test drive portion of this thread message. Below is a rant concerning car dealership woes. Do not read further if you are only looking for more test drive specifics. Otherwise, enjoy my venting :)
*****END WARNING*****

I liked the yellow Evo so much that I actually started talking pricing with the dealership.

My Subaru dealer has to work with a lousy local Subaru rep who should really find a different job, one she is better at or cares more about. I had to fax my Subaru salesman the official press release from SoA about pricing because he had still not heard anything from his rep. I'm part of Generation X, so the need for instant gratification is part of my general demeanor. The Evo was there, and I was interested. The STi could be months away; my dealer doesn't know more than the fact I have him $1000 to show my true interest in an STi, and that the STi's are coming. I have no dates. I know I'm supposedly #5 on a list, but I don't really know if that's #5 on a list of people who wanted a Black STi with gold rims or if it's #5 on the overall list of people who have ordered STi's from this particular dealer. I can't seem to get a definitive answer on the way the STi's will ACTUALLY arrive at the dealerships. My dealer leads me to believe that X number of STi's are going to come to his dealership in each allocation, where X is unknown at this time and may change from allocation round to allocation round.

Let's say that this dealer's 'pre-orders' look like this:

1. Blue/Gold
2. While/Silver
3. Blue/Gold
4. Silver/Silver
5. Black/Gold
6. Blue/Gold

etc.....

If allocation round 1 for the dealer contains 3 cars, then they would be cars 1, 2, and 3. If allocation round 2 contains 2 cars, they would be 4 and 5. There is also the chance that allocation round 1 might contain 3 'pre-order' cars and one not a 'pre-order.' In that case, this particular dealership (it's in their best interest to do this, I understand) is not planning on 'early-filling' any 'pre-orders' with the extra car. So, in my case, if car #4 happened to be Black/Gold, I'd still have to wait for my car.

While I can understand this, I don't have to agree with it. So I decided to see if this Mitsubishi salesman could win me over and get me to buy the Evo. I had already done some research on the trade-in (KBB) value for my WRX. It's a Sedona Red 2002 sedan, spoiler the only option, with 13,000 miles. I rated the car as 'GOOD', not 'EXCELLENT.' Subaru should really do something about their paint. The front hood has more little paint chip imperfections in it than any other car I have previously owned. These are places where insects have died on the car (we have love bug season here in Central Florida) and have eaten though the protectant and paint, all the way to the metal. Other than that, the car has no mechanical or cosmetic issues. 'GOOD' seems a reasonable rating for kbb.com.

I had also pulled the MSRP and invoice on the Evo. The MSRP on the yellow Evo was $30,062 (base plus destination plus the carbon spoiler). Invoice was about $2400 less. The web site for the Mitsubishi dealer had the VIN for the the car, and it's price on their site was $30,062.

Because my Subaru dealer is doing the MSRP deal with me on the STi, and because I had read a few thread messages here that said that Mitsubishi dealers might be starting to feel the economy a bit, I thought I might have been able to get an acceptable deal. I went into price negotiations with my bottom line firmly in mind. I would be willing to pay full MSRP for the Evo if I got full 'GOOD' KBB trade-in for my WRX. This was not to be.

The Mitsu dealer decided to add the 'cool car markup fee' to the Evo in a different way, one that might be common. He wanted to charge me $3495 for this theft protection program that guaranteed to find your car, sort of like Lojack, but it had a different name that I can't remember. So his first price for the Evo came back at $33,557. He also wanted to give me a whopping $15,000 for my trade. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I explained that I did not want the theft protection program, that it needed to come off the price. I also showed him the KBB printout I had gotten from the web, showing the $19,200 figure that I had in mind.

After about 30 minutes of conversation, I basically managed to get the sales manager to admit that the extra $3495 was a 'cool car fee' and that he had no intention of removing it. Their bottom line was that they would be willing to give me full KBB for the trade if I was willing to pay the extra markup.

I wished the Mitsubishi dealer the best of luck with his 'birds-in-the-bush' sales attitude in today's economy and left, REALLY looking forward to when my STi arrives. Perhaps he will find someone willing to pay over MSRP. I'm just happy knowing that I won't be the one :)
 

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Man, people like that piss me off. they're why people don't like me before they even know me! :evil:

Hey, I'll give ya about $18000 for your car and MSRP for an STi!

Geese..., *to himself* it's such a pain being the "Good Guy"...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great review on the Evo. Also nice "rant" on the sales tactics. I swear, sometimes I feel like I have an "I'm with stupid" t-shirt on and the finger is pointing at my head when I'm in a dealership. They aren't all like that, but I'd give it at least a 70/30 split to the bad.

On the Evo, did you manage to hit some potholes or rough road? If so, how was the ride when comparing it to the WRX?

Thanks ahead of time!
Scott
 

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The best I could manage was going over some train tracks and a short patch of brick-paved road. The Evo does not want to 'behave' like the WRX when it comes to rougher conditions. I'll try to give an example of what I mean:

The Evo felt like it is geared more towards the type of person who demands complete control over the car. That person NEEDS to feel every pebble that gets run over. The tradeoff for this is going to be a 'rougher' ride, but one that allows for an unadjusted complete driving experience. I felt every imperfection in the road in the Evo, and I had to keep on top of what I was doing on the brick-paved section. The Evo is unforgiving to someone who is not paying attention.

The WRX feels like it wants to be driven on a bumpy road from time to time. You don't feel it as much, and it will keep you going in the basic direction that you had in mind. If you tend to talk on a cell phone or zone out from time to time while driving, this helps keep you from running into things. The tradeoff is that if you KNOW your car and your driving conditions, you can't always take advantage of special nuances that your experiences have made you privy to. The WRX helps you out and you might wind up feeling like you are fighting it or that it is 'unresponsive.'

If you are a computer person, like me, a better comparison would be comparing UNIX to Windows. Both can be powerful tools in the right hands, but they are suited for people who like a different experience when using a computer. UNIX environments will readily let you shoot yourself in the foot because they trust you to know what you want. Windows will let you hurt yourself too, but even when it does, it asks you a half a dozen times if you are sure, just in case.

Murley, the following is not directed at you, so please do not take any offense. You have been GREAT in these forums.

Am I making any sense? It's hard, because I'm not a professional driver (maybe only a professional car buyer; I think I've owned 10 cars in the past 12 years). I CAN make a recommendation, though. Make sure you take 2 sets of keys to the dealership. After test driving ANY car, get back into your old one (let the dealer have a fit; all of them except Murley look funny babbling and foaming at the mouth) and drive it again RIGHT AFTER the test drive. That will give you a great comparison between the two. The two sets of keys are to keep from having to beg for yours back from the dealer just to see what your old (current) car feels like. I hate it when a delaer holds your car hostage. Sometimes I think they get training similar to phone solicitors. It's always around mealtimes that the phone calls come from the solicitors, and it's always an important time in the vehicle purchase negotiation process that coincides with a mealtime. The extra set of keys allows you to walk up to the salesman at any time you want to and say 'It's lunch/dinner time and I'm hungry. You complete whatever paperwork you need to do and I'll be back in an hour or two.'

Can you tell that I left the dealership not only pissed, but hungry as well? I only really notice it when I'm not leaving in a new car.


Anyways, I think I'm going to like the STi better. I have use for cruise control from time to time, and I read somewhere on these forums that the Evo does not come with one. I did not look yesterday when I was sitting in it. But that's something that's nitnoid enough to make me not want the Evo, no matter what it felt like when I drove it.

Murley,

If you could guarantee me a black STi with gold rims no later than the end of June, MSRP for the STi, $18000 for my WRX, throw in a Ziebart paint protection package, and no additional 'dealer fees' (we're talking $31,545 plus TTL), I'd take the vacation time and drive the WRX to Davenport. I'm afraid that the end of June timeframe would present a problem, though.

Maybe you can find out who the Orlando SoA rep is though, and give me some contact information for her? The rep in Tampa, the one that deals with Mastro Subaru, is on the ball; why can't Orlando use him as well? Is there any way I can RELIABLY find out if my Subaru dealer has placed my STi order without having to go through my dealer/his SoA rep?
 

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ziebart paint protection - is that any good?
and i'd recommend PMing murley about the deals u wanna make with him..
 
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