Originally Posted by Iron Bender
OP, hopefully the Mazda provides you the driving experience and enjoyment that you seek. But with 3 new cars in as many years, could be that you're a little too fickle.
As someone who went from a 2010 VW Golf TDI to a 2012 Impreza Sport Premium, I'm going to go not too far out on a limb and put words in VWGTI's mouth. I'm sure he'll correct me if anything I say here is wrong.
DISCLAIMER: I really like my Impreza, and have no intention of replacing it any time soon.
Going from a GTI with a stick to an Impreza with a CVT is bound to disappoint. The GTI, which is not much different from a TDI in terms of driving dynamics, is a fantastic car to drive. Low-end grunt from a boosted engine, a chassis that's both firm and compliant, communicative steering, and excellent fit and finish. Really, to compare the GTI to an Impreza isn't even fair, as the Impreza is an economy car, while the GTI is dangerously close to an Audi A3.
The Impreza is fast enough, especially with a manual tranny and an understanding of its power curve. But coming from a GTI with a stick, I'm sure the Impreza with CVT feels like it can't get out of its own way. The Impreza has a nice ride, but too much sway in its stock configuration. The Impreza sticks to the road quite nicely, but its steering feels numb when compared to the GTI/TDI. The current generation of Impreza has a greatly improved interior when compared to previous generations, but it's still a good distance away from the GTI's interior quality.
There were things that I missed greatly about my TDI after switching to the Impreza, and I was able to improve most of those things with after-market mods. I wrapped my plastic steering wheel with a leather wrap and replaced my plastic shift knob with a leather one from a WRX, which makes it so I'm touching nicer surfaces while driving. I replaced the original joke of a head unit with a Pioneer double-DIN touch-screen unit with satellite receiver, so I'm no longer missing the infotainment aspects of the TDI. I installed a 19mm RSB from a WRX, so now the Impreza doesn't over-lean in turns. As for some of the other GTI/TDI niceties such as ambient interior lighting, side view mirrors with integrated turn signal lights, an MPG gauge that actually counts in tenths of a MPG rather than 3/10th increments, oh well, I can live without that stuff.
But the GTI/TDI come with that stuff right out of the box. Which makes sense. The GTI/TDI cost approximately $5k to $7k more than the Impreza, so a buyer should get some extra goodies for that money.
So why would anyone (like me and VWGTI) buy an Impreza when they could afford to buy a VW? Because the Impreza is, hands down, WAY more reliable than any VW product. I joke with a friend of mine who owns a GTI that VW has to make their interiors so nice so that the owner is supremely comfortable as he's waiting for the tow truck to arrive. The Impreza also gives you one of the best AWD systems on the road. Oh, you could get a Golf R with a very good AWD system, but now you're looking at a $35k car, and that's just crazy talk.
I dumped my TDI because it was a reliability disaster. VWGTI dumped his GTI because he got tired of shifting in rush hour traffic. I've always thought he should have exchanged his GTI with a stick for a GTI with a DSG tranny, but for whatever reason he chose the Impreza with CVT, which was bound to disappoint. I was able to satisfy myself with my Impreza by throwing approximately $1k in upgrades at it. But VWGTI's displeasure couldn't be cured as simply, mostly because of the CVT.
I think Mazda was a smart choice for VWGTI. I've not driven one, but everything I read about the new Mazda6 and Mazda3 suggests that they're pretty brilliant. So I suspect he'll like the Mazda6's driving dynamics better than the Impreza's (zoom zoom), and he'll likely get more reliability from a Mazda product than a VW product.
So congratulations to VWGTI on the new car. I hope it pleases him as much as I think it will. I saw this move coming as soon as I read his first disgruntled post about the Impreza, because I understand how nicely a VW drives when it's actually able to move under its own power.