Originally Posted by nels0300
I never drove the CVT, so I don't know if I would be able to tell the difference in dry conditions, all I know is that the front tires are doing less work with manual transmission equipped Imprezas. There is a finite amount of traction available from the front tires, they handle the majority if the steering duties, and with the CVT, the majority of the engine braking/acceleration duties as well. In a corner, with the front tires loaded (car is in gear), the threshold where the front tires break loose and the car starts to understeer should be lower with the CVT vs the manual.
With snow on the ground, the 50/50 system doesn't have to think about anything, it just does it.
I think you are mistaken on the understreer. Everything I have read on this describes the continuous AWD system (what the 5MT has) as "reactive", as in something has started to give and the system reacts. The "active AWD" system that the CVT has is described as "pro-active" in that it redirects power before there is a problem. Given this I don't see why understeer is more likely unless they've tuned the system to create this effect. I've seen numbers on how the active AWD system is split under normal/nominal conditions range from 90/10 (granted this source said highway which I'm not sure if this matters to the system or not) to 60/40. Since the system is pro-active however when the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan I'd expect the system to do whatever it takes just like the reactive 5MT system would - in other words, understeer into the ditch avoided!