Sunday, February 10, 2008

The STI Loosens Up

Gas Mileage Rising

The average mpg reading on the new STI was around 16 mpg through about half the first tank. I don't know if that was because nine miles on odometer when I got it were spent putting around distribution and dealership lots, or just because the motor was new, but it's been improving ever since. By the time the first tank was empty, we were up to 18.0 mpg. Halfway through tank #2, it's at 21.1 mpg. It may be my imagination, but the motor seems more willing to rev now, too.

Considering the car's 17/20 sticker mpg rating, 21.1 seems decent.

Living With the STI: More Tid-Bits
  • You can put eight -- yes, eight -- 20-ounce gourmet lattes in the STI. (For those who care, that's two in the front center cup holders, two in the rear cupholders, and one in each door pocket.) And thanks to the STI's plush ride, you won't splash coffee all over your interior on the way home to your seven coffee-starved roommates.
  • If bank-vault solidity is what you look for when you close a car door, look elsewhere. The STI doors make a hollow "ting" sound when you close them. They feel very light.
  • On the other hand, if you're looking for a lightweight aluminum hood like the older WRX cars had, sorry, folks. New WRX models, including the STI, have a conventional steel hood. (Some press reports had said the STI would get an aluminum one, but my trusty fridge magnet says that's not the case.) On the positive side, Subaru finally installed gas lifts on the hood. Hooray! I hate prop rods.
  • This car has a LOT of cornering grip. I'm still trying to find the cornering limits. It may feel soft, but it sticks like a barnacle in corners. I'm pretty impressed with the Dunlop tires. They're called SP Sport 600, and they were specially engineered for this car, according to Dunlop.

Stock Stereo System
Notes, Part Two

Two sort-of-hidden features of the stock stereo are accessed by the "Menu" button. There's speed-sensitive volume, which I'd call mildly useful. And there's "SRS CS Auto," which is a sound processing feature. It makes the sound...different. I have a hard time figuring out exactly what sounds different, though. According to the SRS web site,

SRS CS Auto is the automotive audio industry’s only award-winning surround sound decoding solution that features additional post-processing techniques for a total vehicle surround sound experience. CS Auto’s enhancements include SRS Dialog Clarity™ to improve the clarity of the center or phantom center channel’s vocals; FOCUS® to elevate the sound image for any in-vehicle speaker placed below the listening level (such as in the lower portion of the door); TruBass®, a bass enhancement to deliver the perception of significantly lower bass frequencies and a specialized Channel Mixer which allows adjustable mixing of the front and center channel contents into the surround channels.

Uh...okay. So, we don't really know more than we did, but it sounds okay. The company claims this works with any source material.

EVO Likes the STI

I just got my March 2008 copy of the UK's EVO magazine. (One of the best car magazines on the planet, in my opinion. Especially if you're into photography.) The cover story is about pairing the STI with a Lamborghini Gallardo -- the crazy-fast Superleggera version, no less! -- and chasing them around the wet country roads of North Wales. The STI holds its own, although the authors admit that the Gallardo will zoom away in a straight line. (Chalk it up to the 226 additional horsepower...) The page 61 photo of the two cars, with the STI six inches off the tarmac, is just awesome. There's some terrific video , too.

And hey, they pretty much echoed my comments about the STI's cross-country abilities! Perhaps there's a career waiting for me in journalism if this parts business stuff doesn't pan out.

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