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Old 03-22-2003, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Is the STi too much car for newbie?

As someone who's never owned an AWD car, a turbo car, or auto crossed; is this car to edgy to still be fun? What are the pitfalls? Any recommendation for schools/courses?

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Old 03-22-2003, 04:40 PM   #2
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I'm in the same boat, minus the lack of AWD experience.

I can tell you its gonna be alot of car, but going slow and not being dumb especially initially is going to be key!

slow and steady wins the race!
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:47 PM   #3
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I hope that people will understand that the STi is a lot of car, especially for newbies. I'd hate to see a teenager driving an STi. I'm glad the over $30K price will keep a lot of kids from owning one of these. It'll make it that much easier for me to get one .

I've seen the kind of damage a kid with a fast car can do. I love it when some dumb parents buy their teenager a Mustang GT or Camaro Z28. Those cars are only quick in a straight line. Imagine a kid driving through twisties in an STi. Frightening!
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:51 PM   #4
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I don't think lack of turbo/AWD/300hp experience is an issue.


Paying attention to the road and managing risk is the main issue. If you are a newb to driving, than you are a high risk driver because you haven't learned how to manage risk. Risks such as cornering speed, closing speed, road hazards, etc. --> it all takes experience. To make it more complicated, some people get lucky (like the writer of this post, the world's biggest hypocrit), some people are natural drivers (very few), and some people are just plain damned.


If you like speed, there isn't anything "too edgy" sold to the mass public.

Lots of courses. Notables are Skip Barber and Bob Bondurant. They are both on the web.
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is the STi too much car for newbie?

Originally posted by ABCDriver
As someone who's never owned an AWD car, a turbo car, or auto crossed; is this car to edgy to still be fun? What are the pitfalls? Any recommendation for schools/courses?

Depends how much driving experience you have. This is definitely not a car I would recommend to someone who is still a teenager or has less than 5-6 years of driving experience.

As far as handling if you don't drive like maniac, it should be rock solid I don't think the STi will be like a tail happy 300+ HP RWD if that's what you mean.

If you want to become a better driver your best bet would probably be to join the SCCA, do the local autocrosses, and take a few lessons from your local racetrack.
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Old 03-22-2003, 04:58 PM   #6
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I would not tell you not to buy the STi or any other car you have your heart set on, but I could share what I have done. I do autocrossing and track days, but not even going into that avenue I had a '99 Impreza RS as my first REAL car and I loved it (still do). I owned it for almost 2 1/2 years running it completely stock for the first year and adding new things to it every year after that(suspension, exhaust, tires, brakes, sway bars ect....) learning how to drive the car and see if what I did actually made the car better than what it was. After a while I wanted something that had more power to go with the handling, so I traded my RS for a WRX with BBS and had driven that stock for almost 1 1/2 years with exception of new tires (loved that car too) and was ready to make some improvements on that car until I found out the STi was coming out (that would satisfy my earge for increase speed). So I sold my WRX about 2 weeks ago. I had so much fun beating people in my RS that had cars that were suppose to be so much faster than what I had, all because I learned how to drive the car first and then made it faster. There are so many people that do everything they can to make their car faster so they can keep up with other people yet they can't drive the car to it's potential already. Sometimes they actually went slower because they couldn't control the increased speed. The faster the car the more skill you need to be able to utilize all of that speed. Like I said, I wouldn't say not to buy the STi, just keep in mind sometimes things are more fun when you can use every available ounce of what you have instead of being scared to tap into it's potential. I agree with above, about joining a local car club and learning how to drive and have fun with cars before you find the fastest thing on 4 wheels and then trying to learn how to drive it. As my older brother said to me when I first started autocrossing, "you may think you are a good driver now but you'll soon see how much better everyone else here than you are." I didn't believe him at first unti I spent my whole first day getting my butt whooped by everyone else (including cars much slower than my RS). I then began to learn how to really drive a car with a car than allowed me to learn. It's your call, your idea of fun, and of course, your money......


Last edited by spburns74; 03-22-2003 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 03-22-2003, 05:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is the STi too much car for newbie?

Originally posted by ABCDriver
As someone who's never owned an AWD car, a turbo car, or auto crossed; is this car to edgy to still be fun? What are the pitfalls? Any recommendation for schools/courses?
I've never owned and AWD car, nor a turbo, nor a car with more than 140hp, though I have autocrossed a few times. Hence I'm not really going to answer your question as much as give you my thoughts being in somewhat the same situation.

Is the car too edgy? I'm assuming it is not. Most reviews say the EVO VII (the old Evo) is much more of a handful than the STi (the old one) and while better on the track, is not as nice as a daily driver as the STi. Now admittedly this is not quite objective (e.g. who would you rather have hit you, Mike Tyson or some big non-boxer -- my answer is "neither please!", but if I have to choose...) but the consensus of reviewers seems to be that the STi is livable in daily driving conditions. This seems to have a lot to do with the steering rack -- fast steering ratios are great in an autocross but not so nice on warped streets with traffic around. Also, I drive a Miata now and it is more darty than most cars, so maybe it won't be as much of a change. On the other hand, while light and nimble, it doesn't have much power, so hopefully the STi won't catch me out there.

Pitfalls? Don't let friends drive your car unless they have a clue. There was an article in Autoweek a year or so ago about how most insurance companies were no longer going to cover Shelby Cobra replicas any more. Too many people would give in to a friend wanting to test drive a 2600 pound 400-500hp car, and invariably would wreck the car / kill themselves. Now the STi with 3200-3300 pounds and 300hp plus a lot more safety equipment and a roof is no Cobra, but still I imagine someone testing the limits of the car on the street without being familiar with the car might get in trouble.

Schools? It depends on what your goals are. For next to nothing you could go to some autocrosses in your area. Try to get someone to ride in your car, and if they're a good driver and you want, have them drive it around the course with you in it and they should talk about what they're doing and why. With an STi you can probably find plenty of willing people! For that matter in my autocrossing experiences, people are very helpful and will do what they can to help even a stock Miata driver. I highly recommend it. Test and Tune days are great since there aren't crowds and it is more relaxed -- more time for you to learn your car.

Some people I know have recommended the Evolution autocross school (http://autocross.com/evolution/). I have never attended but I plan to go to one or two this year. The prices seem reasonable and they're available in a lot of places. You drive your own car (which is what you want right now). I'm sure the track driving schools like Skip Barber are great, but they're targetted somewhat differently and you don't drive your own car (plus they are really expensive). Sometimes clubs like BMWCCA or PCA offer driving schools that are really cheap -- BMWCCA has a history of allowing other makes, but PCA clubs tend to not want non-Porsches. I'm debating going to a 2-day track school in my area run by the BMWCCA -- I can't go right now in my Miata since it has neither roof nor roll bar, but the STi should be a blast.

Skip Barber's book "Going Faster!" is good. Bob Bondurant's book has some useful stuff interspersed with a lot of self-promotion. This is oriented toward track driving though -- some will carry over to autocrossing. Knowing it is nice on the street but hopefully you won't use it. Doing some autocrossing is nice to find out that (1) when you thought you were really going fast on the street, you were seriously kidding yourself and didn't know what fast was, and (2) knowing that you really don't want to be at 9/10ths with cars, pedestrians, curbs, potholes, dogs (ok, maybe dogs), blind corners, sand, oil spots, and the like around. This is assuming that fast includes turns -- not drag racing.
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Old 03-22-2003, 06:20 PM   #8
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I wouldn't say it's "too much" of a car, but you gotta be familiar with these types of cars, if you are expecting one thing you might be getting another thing. The ride is going to be hard, not luxurious, getting used to turbo revs is another story, how the AWD behaves under hard cornering is another story... I would say lack of familiarity is your biggest enemy.
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Old 03-22-2003, 06:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Is the STi too much car for newbie?

Yes it is probably too much for a newbie. Go to some driving schools, gain basic road smart driving skills and get a lower powered car. (Subaru RS would be great start)

The points that the others guys mentioned above are right on.


Originally posted by ABCDriver
As someone who's never owned an AWD car, a turbo car, or auto crossed; is this car to edgy to still be fun? What are the pitfalls? Any recommendation for schools/courses?

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Old 03-22-2003, 09:01 PM   #10
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I never quite bought that whole "fast cars are dangerous" theory. Almost any car you buy these days can go 100+ mph. Which is more than enough to get you killed if you drive it into a tree. The only concern is that it's much more tempting to drive beyond safe limits if you have a car with so much potential. But if you have enough self discipline, an STi is not going to be more dangerous than a Focus. If anything, it's probably safer.

A WRX is easier to control at the limit than most cars. I expect the STi to require a little more attention and skill, but I'm sure that it will also be a very balanced car. And I believe that pushing any car to its limit should be done in a safe environment, that doesn't belong on public streets. Even if you have great driving skills, you're not alone, there can always be surprises. And most of us make mistakes every once in a while.

[/end soapbox]
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Old 03-22-2003, 09:07 PM   #11
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Not if you aren't stupid (simple answer).

Many people on this board, as we read from the crash stories all the time, even though they aren't newbies, take the power, grip and handling of Scoobies for granted. The limits of these cars are high, but when you exceed them, it generally isn't good.

The STi isn't going to be like an old-school 911, a dervish waiting to happen. Keep in mind that the STi's limits will be so high that by the time you exceed them, jail will beckon.

Obviously, you should learn your car, and there are excellent ways to do this. Your local SCCA chapter should have schools, like the Solo II classes, that will allow to learn your own personal car at the limit. They should also have information of track days which, again, will allow you to use your own car, with an instructor to tell you what is going on.

Of course, driving school, like Barber or Bondurant is a good idea for anyone, anytime anywhere, I don't care what you're driving.

The STi will be a fabulous car, and one that, enjoyed judiciously, should be fine.

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Old 03-22-2003, 09:09 PM   #12
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Fast cars are not inherently dangerous, but you do have to consider that in the STi, people are buying into a level of performance that used to be reserved for those of an age (and payscale) that screamed "mature" (or mid-life crisis), or for kids of the rather wealthy.

I'm talking about cars like the M3, Z06, Ferrari, Porsche 911's and such. And lets face it - while drivers can be idiots at any age, when you are driving around a piece of machinery whose costs *start* at 50 grand, you do tend to pay a little more respect to it. There is a reason you don't see many Porsches and Ferrari's being driven "like they stole it", unless it was a present from daddy.

Ignore the fact that you paid only 30 grand for it (or crow about it to your Porsche friends ), and treat it like a 50 grand car. I have a feeling that would calm people down a tad from the "I took it out and started drifting through 90 degree street corners" approach.


Paul Hansen
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Old 03-23-2003, 02:04 PM   #13
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Fast cars are not necessarilty dangerous, but race cars are.

The STi sacrifices directional stability for tossability. It is twitchier than the WRX. People will get bitten by this, just like lots of first-time Porsche 911 owners are.

The latest issue of EVO magazine (UK) opines that the WRX is a better all-around car; STi drivers will have to accept less stability, more harshness, and less forgiving handling. At the limits, the STi will snap oversteer.

You think there were a lot of wrecked WRXes? Just wait!

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Old 03-23-2003, 02:33 PM   #14
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I'm waiting to see what the press launch score is.
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