My car is fast and very fun. There are not any dead spots in the acceleration. From 2000 on up it is very responsive. I find myself sitting at 2000rpm and accelerating due to its ability to do so. Bogging and waiting for the turbo to spool are not characteristic of my car.
My engine isn't stock, but not too far from it. I currently have a K&N filter (which is dirty and needs to be cleaned), JDM STi catless up-pipe with JetHot coating, ScoobySport H&S downpipe, Cobb Stage 2 AccessECU, and an Exedy lightweight flywheel. With those mods, my engine is sitting at circa 285hp.
A couple items you have to remember when comparing your 2001 RS to a 2004 WRX:
- The 2001 RS is considerably lighter than a WRX. It weighs in at around 300lbs lighter, in fact. This has a profound difference in acceleration feel; somewhere to the tune of .3 seconds in the quarter mile if all other things are the same besides weight.
- The RS has gearing that is much more favorable to acceleration. The RS will top out at ~50mph in second gear where the WRX will pull all the way through 60mph. This gives you around a 1000rpm difference in 5th gear at cruising speeds; a difference between the start of torque peak and the economy rpm. Comparing same speeds and same gears between the two cars will give you different results due to this large gearing difference. With all that said, though, my car is using the WRX transmission and still feels very fast. I've been told the EJ20 with the RS gearing is even better for low-end acceleration.
- The stock WRX comes with three catalytic converters. Their purpose in life is to use the exhaust energy and burn off excessive particles. A turbo is built around exhaust energy, that very exhaust energy that is being used up. Response is then hampered because of the depriving nature of the cats. Furthermore, the cat in the downpipe is positioned in the worse possible place when taking performance into account. It is disrupting the exhaust flow and creating backpressure. Since the turbo works pressure differences to its advantage, this further hampers response.
Now, I do not condone dropping all cats in search for ultimate performance, but rather I am pointing out potential bottlenecks that can be addressed.
Just to give you a little bit of an idea, I took my car over to the local tuning shop and the first thing he says is "EJ20s are fast in GCs, huh?"