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2006 Subaru STI vs. 2006 Infiniti G35 coupe

24

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    At that rate I'd be more concerned about fuel costs, that's a lot of fuel and premium at that!

    If you drive 20k, get a Prius! :D

    Or maybe a Lexus GS hybrid, or Accord V6 hybrid, for the performance/economy balance.

    The EJ257 has been near bullet-proof. The 6MT is also phenomenal, far-far-FAR better than the 5MT on the base WRX.

    -juice
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    I realize this was first posted almost a year ago, but the thread has continued, and recent events give me a perspective worth weighing in from...

    I was drooling over the STI for about three years. Pretty much ever since it came out. That's around the time I ended up with a used 2000 Maxima GXE, which I drove until recently.

    Sometime in the last three years, I discovered the G35 Coupe, which I've also drooled over since that time, although the AWD, 4 doors and usable back seat, and somewhat lower price of the STI always tipped the scales slightly.

    Recently when I found out my Maxima's extremely-well-worn auto tranny was dying, I took the plunge and bought the STI.

    My feelings so far are mixed. The power is, of course, amazing, and this car's ability to whip around corners is legendary. But the reason I never considered the Evo was that I preferred the STI's better interior and liveable demeanor (not to mention cruise control, which for me is a must), and now I find myself wondering if the STI is still too crude.

    I never thought of my base-model Maxima as a luxury car, but I now realize I took its comfort and refinement for granted. Here are my main unpleasant discoveries about the STI:


    There are several squeaks and rattles triggered by certain road surfaces. You might say "of course a dressed-up econo car with a super-stiff suspension is going to rattle." But it's not even rough roads that cause it; it's just certain surface textures, even on smooth roads. The worst one comes from the dashboard clock assembly. Another one seems to be in the leftmost air vent, and there are a few sporadic ones I haven't been able to locate yet. My Maxima NEVER rattled, and I don't appreciate it in a ~$35k car. I'm going to ask the dealer to look at this, but still, it's disheartening.
    When running the air conditioner, the automatic climate control is bizarre. Rather than running at some moderate temperature (like every other car I've seen with auto climate control), it continually turns the compressor on and off, resulting in air that's alternately super-cold and lukewarm, and never particularly comfortable. My Maxima had manual HVAC controls, and I find that I miss that. This might be a defect; Motor Trend had the same problem with a long-term Legacy, and apparently many readers contributed advice. But the STI documentation says the system operates this way in auto mode. For me, it does in manual mode as well. Again, I'm going to ask the dealer to look at it, but either way, it's a hassle.
    The sound system is weak, even with the optional subwoofer/amplifier. But it's 120 watts, so what do you expect? The thing is, this car has a lot of interior noise at highway speed (some wind, but especially the tires), and the sound system isn't powerful enough to make up for it; if you crank it up, it doesn't sound good; it just gets uncomfortably loud. As a rule, I hate the appearance and ergonomics of aftermarket head units, so I'll just have to live with it. I thought the subwoofer would help more. To be honest, I wish I could hear it without the subwoofer so I can see just how different it is.


    These are the parts I wasn't expecting. I was expecting a stiff ride, expensive insurance, expensive (and short-life) tires, a downgrade from my Maxima in fuel efficiency, rear-window visibility issues (from the wing), and an altogether somewhat crude vehicle. I guess I'm not as tough as I thought, because those things are bothering me more than I anticipated. Although the squeaks/rattles, climate control fluctuations, and weak sound system probably aren't helping my overall impression.

    Honestly I miss my Maxima, and I never thought I'd say that after getting behind the wheel of my long-time dream car.

    I've come to realize that what I probably really wanted was a nice sporty GT, not a road rocket -- something with the comfort and refinement of my Maxima, but with better power and handling, and maybe some upscale features (navigation, bluetooth, power seats...). I'm pretty sure the G35 Coupe would have fit that bill better, and given me all the power and performance I wanted. But I was too hung up on the AWD, and ultimately, I gave in to my "car lust."

    Say what you will about the G35 vs. other luxury brands, but it's obviously more luxurious than the Maxima, to say nothing of the STI. Gas mileage is better than the STI's, albeit slightly (18/24 vs. 18/26 -- in all fairness, my Maxima averaged 22-24, and the STI is averaging 20-22, so the smaller tank and rising gas prices make the difference seem bigger than it is). The G35 also has a kickass sound system, a lot more comfort, and probably no squeaks or rattles. I even miss the ultra-refined VQ engine family shared by my Maxima and the G35. The STI's 2.5 sounds great for a four-banger, but it's loud, rough, and angry.

    I even find myself wondering if I would have been happier with the regular WRX (less abusive ride, better fuel efficiency, cheaper/quieter/longer-lasting tires, cheaper insurance, better-looking wheels IMHO, unimpeded rear visibility with the regular spoiler, moonroof and leather in Limited model, and cheaper overall, although still the same sound system and maybe the same squeaks/rattles), or just a newer used Maxima SE (the car of my dreams before the STI was the 2003 Maxima SE, but what Nissan did to it in 2004 killed my interest). The G35 would be an awesome sporty refined GT, but either the WRX or the Maxima SE would give a decent GT impersonation at a lower price.

    The STI is damned good at what it does. It is an amazing machine. But the moral of this very long post is, know what you want from a car. The STI and G35 are both excellent performers, but my sense is that the STI is much more of a toy, and the G35 is something you can really live with, yet offers almost as much fun.

    Having said that, I'm not about to give up on my new car. I'm still glad I took the STI over the Evo. I'm going to see the dealer about the climate control and the rattles. If they can't do anything about it, at least I can say I tried.

    Also, the STI is my first manual transmission car. I've been driving stick off and on for 10 years, but this is the first one I've driven daily, and it's a rather unforgiving clutch if you're relatively inexperienced. Once I'm better with it, I'll probably be more comfortable behind the wheel, and my outlook may improve somewhat.

    And I'll take pride (and have fun) knowing I have one of the most capable machines on the road. I'm just not exactly looking forward to my first long road trip!

    But I've learned from this experience. Next time I buy a car, I'll probably put a little more emphasis on comfort/refinement. For some people, the uncompromising nature of the STI is perfect, but any potential buyer should definitely consider these issues.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,652
    Welcome to the world of "buying down." It's happened to me a few times too. :)

    The STI is a street brawler, plain and simple. If you want quiet and refinement, this is not the car for you. I think you would be much happier in a Legacy GT or a Spec. B, both of which are much nicer to "live" with.

    Bob
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Indeed ... I think I just underestimated my threshold for the crudeness of the machine. Although like I said, if it weren't for the unanticipated issues (squeaks/rattles, fluctuating climate control, weak sound system, and my own difficulty with mastering this particular clutch), I'd probably be somewhat happier.

    You're right, the Legacy GT (or even Mazdaspeed 6) would also be decent alternatives. I didn't seriously consider those largely because they are midsized cars, and after three years with the Maxima, I wanted the handling advantages of something smaller. But it's too bad that with most car manufacturers, size has to correlate with refinement. (Even with the luxury brands, where "smaller" equals "entry-level.")

    Plus the Legacy has the same lame 120 watts of audio power the Impreza has. And with any of those vehicles -- the WRX, Legacy GT, or Mazdaspeed 6, I'd be dealing with a turbocharged 4. After the Maxima (and my surprisingly quick little Buick Skylark before it), I like the torquey but dignified urgency of a powerful V6. Probably the G35 Coupe would have made me the happiest of all those choices (although I know it's bigger than it looks).

    Not that the STI is lacking for torque. And I'll admit, there's something fun about punching the throttle and feeling it pull harder and harder as the RPM's climb. Quite a different experience from naturally aspirated V6's with all their grunt in the low end.

    Oh well ... for however many years I own it, I will enjoy it for what it is.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,652
    I recently drove a MazdaSpeed6 at a Mazda Zoom-Zoom LIVE! event. It's a fun car, but I did notice some turbo lag. Also, I don't like the on-demand Haldex AWD as much as the Subaru's fulltime AWD. My pick would be the Legacy GT, or Spec. B if you want max handling—and now the '07 model has a 6-speed tranny. Both have less turbo lag, a better AWD (IMO).

    Bob
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    I seem to recall at least one comparison review that put the Mazdaspeed 6 ahead of the Legacy GT and/or Spec. B (in fact, they all seem to say the Spec. B really isn't that different from the regular Legacy GT).

    But as we know, one car magazine's opinion is not everybody's truth. If I took comparison reviews as gospel, I might have chosen the Evo over the STI (which I'm glad I didn't).

    And unless anything bizarre happens it'll be at least a few years before I am car-shopping again, so who knows what will be on the market by that point. That's one nice thing about any technologically advanced toy -- you can usually count on it to get better over time.

    I'm only afraid about styling at this point since a lot of the body styles now being released are making me nauseous...
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    Just switching tires from the OEM ones on the STi can have a dramatic impact on ride comfort and noise levels. I found the OEM tires to be unbelievably harsh and noisy on the highway and switched to a set of Pirelli PZero Nero (M+S) tires that were a night and day difference. The Pirelli's traded a slight bit of the Potenza's turn-in response (which was razor sharp) for a huge gain in ride compliance and lower noise levels at all speeds. Luckily, there are a ton of people who love the OEM tires, so I had no trouble at all selling them online (for $100/ea) to partially offset the cost of the new Pirellis.

    Brian
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Interesting idea. I'll probably keep these tires until they wear out, but I've wondered about what I'll do at that point. Maybe even something sacrilegious like put all-season tires on. Or maybe a happy medium with some slightly less extreme summer tires, as you say.

    It's really hard to find tire reviews in the magazines. The one time I did find a review made it abundantly clear why they're uncommon: it's a royal pain for the magazine to swap tires off a few tester cars over and over and over again.

    Anybody know any good sites/publications for tire reviews?
  • jccai1jccai1 Posts: 103
    I'm sort of having the opposite problem. I got a new G35 sedan earlier this year. After 6 months of ownership, I am starting to wish I had gotten something else with a bit more edge, like a Legacy GT. The G35 is nice and refined, with advanced eletronics. But somehow I can't get excited looking at it or driving it. While the engine has good power in the mid range, I'm not impressed with the low end torque, especially when the A/C is on. The handling is too soft (non-sport), and the auto tranny does slow shifts. On top of that, the gas mileage is terrible. I test drove a Legacy GT last year, and the pull of the turbo felt great.
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Interesting. I wonder how much difference the manual transmission/sport suspension would make in your case. Given that the G35 has a bigger (and much more powerful) version of the same engine my Maxima had, I'd expect it to feel a lot faster.

    Actually the G35 I test drove felt pretty damn quick and light on its feet. But it was the coupe, which is pretty different from the sedan. And it had the manual and sport suspension.

    I'd probably be happy with the power/handling of the WRX or Impreza GT, but it appears all Subarus (downhill of the Tribeca at least) share the same auto climate control system -- a very irritating one if mine is, in fact, working properly. The compressor turns on and off repeatedly, creating an uncomfortably large range of temperature variation.

    And Subaru doesn't seem to offer any decently powerful sound systems on any of their cars. Not a problem for those who love to trick out their cars with aftermarket systems or don't listen to much music, but I can't stand aftermarket, and I need a powerful sound system in my car. I'm just not happy without it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    IIRC C&D picked the Speed6, while R&T picked the spec.B.

    I was with Bob at Zoom Zoom Live and the Speed6 was nice, but there was more turbo lag than I remember with the Legacy GT manual.

    I'd be happy with either one, though.

    -juice
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Yeah, ultimately with closely matched competitors like this, the end user is unlikely to be disappointed with either...

    So probably it comes down to whether you like the "day-to-day" things about the car. I suppose we don't need race-car capability on the street.

    Speaking of which, I dropped off my STI today to get some of those issues looked at, and the loaner they gave me is an Outback wagon. Only 175 hp, but I'm actually enjoying the auto tranny and the comfortable ride (plus for some reason the sound system seems better than mine, even though it's supposed to be the same power). My goodness, I must be losing my edge!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For someone like me, who has a family plus a commute to pot-hole central (DC), I could never get away with a car like that. It rides too stiffly for my daily commute, and isn't big enough to be my family car.

    Solution - get 3 cars! :D

    I commute in a Miata and use a Forester as a family car.

    -juice
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    I don't have a family to haul so I guess I can get away with only two cars :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I can't even get away with big rims for my Miata. The CD player skips if the tire pressure is too high!

    The Forester is perfect for my uses, though at times I wish I had the power of the XT (turbo) model.

    -juice
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    My mom loves her Forester. But yeah, it's just a bit underpowered anywhere above city speeds.

    I think whenever I drove it, I found myself thinking "I love this vehicle. I just want more power and a less elevated stance." Which seemed to equate to "something from the Impreza line."

    But somewhere along the line I went crazy and bought a sports car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like you need a (non-STI) WRX wagon...

    -juice
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Oh ... I forgot to mention I don't particularly like wagon/SUV body styles. WRX sedan is fine for me :)

    Now the only question is transmission. I'm having such a foul time mastering the STI's sensitive clutch. The car bucks and lurches if I don't shift with surgically precise perfection. I never thought I'd say this, after years of frustration with auto trannies dampening the fun of my driving experience, but I'm wondering if I need to go back to it (*gasp*).

    Is your Forester manual? If so, how user-friendly is it? I'm wondering if maybe the STI's high-strung nature is making the clutch more finicky than most, or if I'm just destined to fail at driving stick with consistent smoothness. (No, I'm not just learning stick on the STI, but it's the first manual I've owned and driven every day.)
  • jccai1jccai1 Posts: 103
    I haven't driven a manual G35, so I don't know how different it is. But I'm sure the whimpy all season tires on mine are reducing the car's handling capability. While my G35 is very nice, I find it a bit boring. Wish I had got something smaller and zippier. But I had really gotten something like an STi, I would probably find it hard to live with on a daily basis. Grass is always greener on the other side, I guess.
  • nightvznnightvzn Posts: 232
    Lol .. I had to laugh when I thought "yeah, it looks like green grass until you look closer and see it's just a pile of money."

    Like, you could spend $15k-$20k more and get, say, an Audi S4 which would have all the luxury/refinement of the G35 and most of the performance of the STI. Ah, if only money were no object.

    Your car and mine are probably two of the better performance deals in their price range. Apparently they make somewhat different compromises to get there, though.
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