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      12-08-2019, 03:46 PM   #1
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M2 C vs M2 CS vs STI vs STI RA vs S209

I don't recall seeing much, if any, talk around here about the Subaru S209 so my apologies if this has been discussed before

On paper, at least in terms of price and performance, the M2 C and the S209 seem to match up pretty well

However, similar in many respects to some of the discussions seen around here regarding the M2 CS not being worth the premium over the standard model, much of the Subaru community has expressed reservations about spending considerably more for the higher priced and limited edition variants of the current WRX STI offered in the USA, first with the Type RA and more recently with the S209

Unfortunately, the S209 was not available for this year's C&D Lightning Lap where the M2 C put down a time of 2:59.7

https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...lightning-lap/

However, C&D were able to put in some unofficial laps at VIR in a preproduction S209 which seem to suggest it might be capable of a similar lap time

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews...totype-driven/

For comparison, the 2018 STI Type RA put down a 3:04.9 lap in the 2018 LL (some 5.6 seconds faster than a standard 2015 STI managed back in the 2014 LL)

https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...ning-lap-2018/

Anyhow, I was curious if anyone here had any thoughts, feelings or experiences with the current generation of WRX STI (which will soon be replaced)

Last edited by VTBoss302; 12-08-2019 at 03:48 PM.. Reason: Added Links
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      12-08-2019, 08:36 PM   #2
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Went from a WRX to an M2 so though it's not exactly the comparison you want, I figured I'd chime in.

Won't talk much about performance because the WRX and STI have different engines. That being said, I think the M2 is just more refined compared to the WRX and STI. Different cars at different price points after all. The M2 is more comfortable, interior quality is better, has been more fun to drive, and if it matters at all to you, more economical (at least in my experience).

I considered upgrading to the STI from the WRX but just couldn't justify it. For one, it's an old platform and a very old engine. Second, I bought a 2018 M2 early on in 2019 and the price difference between getting an STI and an M2 wasn't large. I also think that unless the EJ motor is a necessity, the WRX is a much better buy.

Last edited by enzo41196; 12-09-2019 at 02:07 AM..
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      12-08-2019, 10:37 PM   #3
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STI owners always come up to us at cars and coffee and other random locations asking about the M2C and saying they wish they can have one "one day". I think that speaks droves about a comparison.

As a former Evo X owner, while those cars are fun, they really are very different cars. Different leagues in my opinion.
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      12-09-2019, 01:30 AM   #4
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The S55 reigns above any Subaru engines let alone one that is over 20 years old.

Go and drive a M2C and then an STi and compare. Don't choose a car base on lap times alone.

I used to own a Evo 9 with flash tune and I tell you now there is no comparison. The Evo 9 feels like a cheap tin box that runs out of breath after 3rd gear. The 4G63 is great but can't hold a candle compared to the S55. The aggression and throttle response of the S55 is 2 leagues above the EJ25T...

M cars are a solid piece of engineering marvel compared to any JDM short of the current GTR & NSX.
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      12-09-2019, 03:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karmic Man View Post
The S55 reigns above any Subaru engines let alone one that is over 20 years old.
Spot on. The last really great WRX/STI ended production in 2000.

They were groundbreaking cars that are still brilliant to drive today. This centuries variant never captured that. Things moved on.
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      12-09-2019, 09:40 AM   #6
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The S55 reigns above any Subaru engines let alone one that is over 20 years old.
I don't consider the N55 or S55 to be superior engines to the EJ25T at all, not in reliability or modability. You might lower your nose a bit on that one.

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Originally Posted by Karmic Man View Post
M cars are a solid piece of engineering marvel compared to any JDM short of the current GTR & NSX.
I'll agree with you on this one, the M2 feels much more solidly engineered than my '05 STi did.

If I could have found the used STi that I wanted ('05 with less than 10,000 miles, no mods), I would have paid $28K for it long before I would have paid $48K for my used M2 with 10,000 miles.

The M2 is good, but it's not +$20K good.

I can't speak for the new STi's, as the car died for me in 2006.
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      12-09-2019, 11:15 AM   #7
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I owned a full RA build 2002 WRX wagon and an Ivey built 2012 EVO X MR.

Both were great cars and a lot of fun. BUT

The M2C is just in a diferent league.

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      12-09-2019, 12:31 PM   #8
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I traded in an '18 STi Limited three months ago and have a few thoughts...

I'd say on paper the M2 CS and S209 will be comparable at the track when looking at lap times. But what percentage of the time are you on the track at the limit? I also find it entertaining that BMW and Subaru/STi are using the exact same marketing formula for their CS & S209 offerings--mild upgrades to end of production cars with a large price increase.

I actually had my M2C and STi at the same time for a couple months so I was able to make direct comparisons. I had planned to keep both and use the STi as my daily but having both was redundant--"drivers" cars with a rough ride, not very practical (for my lifestyle), and poor fuel economy. But the STi was worse for everyday driving because that dog of an engine. It's miserable to drive because it's temperamental and sluggish at low RPMs. I have to assume the S209 would be the same, even with the extra 30(?) hp. And of course there's just no comparison of the EJ257 to the S55.

In the end I couldn't live with the Subaru and it had to go. Saying that I replaced it with a Fiesta ST should say something about how unpleasant the STi is to deal with on a daily basis.

I'll also mention that with a few suspension upgrades the regular STi really shines on the track. I assume that is how the S209 is getting such good lap times. After a couple track days I upgraded to RCE Bilsteins with a rear sway bar and was quite impressed, even with my novice/intermediate driving skills.
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      12-09-2019, 03:59 PM   #9
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But the STi was worse for everyday driving because that dog of an engine. It's miserable to drive because it's temperamental and sluggish at low RPMs.
I could not have had a more opposite experience with my '05 STi. Such a dream to drive, super responsive, and with just a few suspension and power mods the car was a monster (and very reliable). I hate what they did to the STi in the later years.
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      12-09-2019, 06:47 PM   #10
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I don't consider the N55 or S55 to be superior engines to the EJ25T at all, not in reliability or modability. You might lower your nose a bit on that one.
You have to be kidding? The EJ257 is one of the worst engines ever made. It's balls slow in stock tune by today's standards and is simply a poorly designed engine from the get go. Due to the boxer design taking up the width of the engine bay Subaru is forced to go with short stroke oversquare engines when they go up in displacement and since the EJ is an old design the large cast pistons in these engines are simply not up to the task of handling knock and meeting today's emission standards. All EJ's are on borrowed time whether stock or tuned and it's only a matter of time until ringland or bearing failure. Superior engines don't have multiple class action lawsuits filed against them;

https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2...-lawsuit.shtml

https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2...-lawsuit.shtml

I'm a former STI owner and have been in the Subaru community for a long time so I'm not talking out of my ass as I have seen failures in other people's cars as well as numerous accounts from people all over the internet. I only owned mine for 2.5 years before selling so while mine didn't fail I had to get an aftermarket tune to at least so I didn't have to resort to aggressive launches from a green light just to keep up with people movers such as V6 Accords or Camrys as the powerband stock is extremely narrow and it's weak up to about 4k RPM.

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      12-09-2019, 07:57 PM   #11
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Can't compare the two cars at all. Former 16 STI limited owner, hated it, never again.
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      12-09-2019, 08:46 PM   #12
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I feel like that entire class of car is something everyone has moved on from...

Back in 2006; the evo and sti were kings... they were also essentially the only turbo performance motors on the market and at a great price...

Now 13 years later; they are both unrefined dinosaurs with tech that has been long surpassed by German competitors. No idea why anyone would want one even if it was a few seconds faster on a track.
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      12-09-2019, 09:00 PM   #13
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2005 STi had 300 hp
2019 STI has 310 hp

All else being equal, that miniscule increase is simply not acceptable in today's performance cars market.
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      12-10-2019, 01:10 AM   #14
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Many thanks to everyone for their comments

The only Japanese car I've ever owned was a 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 RS

For those who are unfamiliar, it was essentially a lighter weight version of the standard USDM Evo 8

The main differences being no power windows, door locks, mirrors, radio, sound deadening material, rear wing or even ABS and the addition of a limited slip front differential

Only around 500 were imported to the USA

Although it was based off an economy car and the interior was very basic (apart from the Recaro seats) I actually found it to be very well built (especially considering the price)

It never had any mechanical problem of any kind, not a single thing ever broke on it and it never developed any squeaks, rattles or unusual noises

Even in completely stock form, it was one of the very best driving and most confidence inspiring cars I have ever experienced

Unlike most AWD cars, it had three mechanical LSDs (a helical gear front diff, a viscous coupling center diff and a clutch type rear diff)

As a result, understeer was minimal and oversteer could be easily controlled with the throttle

The steering was incredibly direct and provided phenomenal feedback

In many ways it reminded me of the E30 M3 (I've owned two) with its' boxy fender flares and easy to manage behavior at the limit, but with more power and grip

Simple bolt-on mods took things to a entirely new level and the 4G63 engine was considered essentially bulletproof with a proper tune, kept to reasonable boost levels and not over-revved

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand (sorry for the long winded preface)

The new S209

Subaru apparently made some revisions to the engine internals of the EJ25 starting with the Type RA and then later with all WRX STI models sold in the USA, so reliability is hopefully less of a concern than with earlier models

In any case, the pistons (while supposedly improved) are still cast

Early reports suggested that the S209 would receive forged pistons, but for whatever reason they decided against it

The S209 gets a larger turbocharger which provides slightly more boost (and possibly a little more lag) and is responsible for most of the 31 horsepower gain over the standard WRX STI

It also receives a freer flowing intake and mufflers with less backpressure

Furthermore, and it gets an upgraded fuel pump and larger fuel injectors

I suspect that the exhaust system will remain the most restrictive part of the system and will almost assuredly require changes or modifications for those in search of more power

There is also a new water spray system for the top mount intercooler, but I wouldn't expect it to provide much of a noticeable benefit (the water spray system on my Evo didn't)

Then again, my Evo had a front mount intercooler (which is something I would have liked to see on the S209)

The chassis and suspension changes to the S209 are significant and likely contribute the most to its' improved track performance

New dampers, springs, ball joints in place of several bushings, subframe reinforcements, a flexible front strut tower bar and flexible front and rear "draw stiffeners" are among the highlights

Track width and wheel width are also increased

Brakes remain essentially the same with the exception of upgraded pads

To accommodate these changes, the S209 receives a special wide-body kit, front canards, front and rear fender vents and a very Fast & Furious like rear wing

This, at least for me, is where things start to go downhill

IMHO, the current WRX STI is already kind of an ugly duckling to begin with and the S209 treatment isn't helping much (in fact, perhaps the opposite)

The widebody kit, canards and rear wing look more like an aftermarket job than a factory effort

Speaking of factories, final assembly of the S209 supposedly takes place at a special STI facility and not the standard production line

Perhaps that will mean a higher level of fit and finish (or maybe not)

It is the most expensive Subaru ever offered in the USDM at $65,000

Whether or not it's worth it would be a long discussion in and of itself, but given it's price point it's hard not to compare it with the M2 C which starts at $60,000

In terms of looks, quality, fit and finish I think few would argue against the M2 C

Nevertheless, I can't help but remain somewhat intrigued by the S209

The M2 C is clearly the winner in terms of straight line performance, but that advantage could very well disappear on a road course depending on the layout

The M2 C's superior (albeit more vulnerable to damage) cooling system should make it more suitable for extended track work

On the other hand, that EJ25 also means the S209 still has a hydraulic steering rack

Combined with an AWD system equipped with LSDs front and rear (although the electronic "driver controlled center diff" is a bit of an unknown variable for me since I've never used one) it starts to make me wonder which car I would feel more comfortable with exploring the limits at the track, but since I'm not an automotive journalist, I'll likely never get the chance

As far as daily drivability and practicality, I'd say it's a tie and would come down to individual preferences and/or needs

The M2 C has a nicer interior and a higher quality feel, while the S209 has four doors and AWD

Well, I think that's enough rambling for now

Last edited by VTBoss302; 12-10-2019 at 01:17 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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      12-10-2019, 06:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karmic Man View Post
The S55 reigns above any Subaru engines let alone one that is over 20 years old.
I don't consider the N55 or S55 to be superior engines to the EJ25T at all, not in reliability or modability. You might lower your nose a bit on that one.
Ah. Ok. Well I bought my wife a Forester with EJ25T back in 2006 as I loved the old ones so much and believed the reliability was going to be rock solid. It was initially amazing. For about 3 years. Then...

...Never have I owned a more unreliable car. What a complete piece of shit. In the end you were never sure you'd make it from A to B. You'd just pray. Would steam come out of the bonnet with another head gasket blowing? Would you get another check engine light?

It cost nearly $15k in engine rebuilds until it was eventually sold for $2k. Needless to say the last car I would ever buy again is a Subaru. They were incredible last century. This century they make Alfas look like the paragon of reliability.

Do some research and you'll find many similar stories. I did.
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      12-10-2019, 07:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
I don't consider the N55 or S55 to be superior engines to the EJ25T at all, not in reliability or modability. You might lower your nose a bit on that one.



I'll agree with you on this one, the M2 feels much more solidly engineered than my '05 STi did.

If I could have found the used STi that I wanted ('05 with less than 10,000 miles, no mods), I would have paid $28K for it long before I would have paid $48K for my used M2 with 10,000 miles.

The M2 is good, but it's not +$20K good.

I can't speak for the new STi's, as the car died for me in 2006.
Look at the amount of money you have to spend to get 400hp at the fly

N54/N55 = FBO + tune + 93, yes after a few runs power will drop significantly because of the smallish turbos overheating but it won't blow an engine

EJ25 = At a minimum FMIC, BOV, fuel rail + 1000 cc fuel injectors, heavy duty timing belt, cold air intake, larger oil cooler, colder spark plugs, free flowing exhaust + a larger turbocharger + manifold...probably will also need engine reinforcement parts like H-beam rods, forged pistons, main bearings, cams, valves, valve spring and retainer kits, head gaskets, cylinder head stud kit...etc

Look at the amount of fuss you have to go through with an EJ25 to get to 400hp. I am not even talking about how long the clutch or the diff or the gearbox will hold at this power level since AWD is very hard on the drivetrain with tyres not spinning. Anyone who drag race an Evo or STi will know eventually either the diff breaks or the gearbox blows or an engine mount cracks.

That's why I went for an Evo because the Evo 9 version 4G63 can crack 380hp with just FBO + 100 RON (US 95) tune and Australia had 100 RON fuel back then. My Evo 9 was making around 500Nm of torque running 1.65 bar/24psi of boost but it was laggy because of the small 2L engine displacement. It was fast only when it was on boost where as in comparison the S55 can be fast anytime, anywhere. With the S55 one doesn't have to wait for power to come through, power is always available to be tapped into immediately. I would go through twin plates copper clutch on the Evo every 20k km and changing fluid was an expensive exercise it had to be done on the front diff, the rear diff, the AYC and the gearbox (every 10k km). I still miss the car but the M2C is definitely on another league in everyway.

Last edited by Karmic Man; 12-10-2019 at 07:50 AM..
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      12-10-2019, 10:49 AM   #17
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Guys, I had my '05 STi down the track 117 times, I have the slips to prove it, and narry an issue (probably double that on the street as well). The car has had 3 owners since me, has 90K on the clock, and still is issue-free...and on the stock clutch (try that with your EVO).

I think you guys have message-board-itis. Also, the type of person buying an STi and EVO are just car killers, in general, so you can't compare the numbers to that of BWM or Merc, it just doesn't work that way.

The '05 STi was, and is dead reliable, and the EJ25 with simple mods can last many years without issue. The problem is when you want to push the engine past what it should be doing, then beat on it. 375/400 in that car is plenty.
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      12-10-2019, 11:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEcho View Post
Guys, I had my '05 STi down the track 117 times, I have the slips to prove it, and narry an issue (probably double that on the street as well). The car has had 3 owners since me, has 90K on the clock, and still is issue-free...and on the stock clutch (try that with your EVO).

I think you guys have message-board-itis. Also, the type of person buying an STi and EVO are just car killers, in general, so you can't compare the numbers to that of BWM or Merc, it just doesn't work that way.

The '05 STi was, and is dead reliable, and the EJ25 with simple mods can last many years without issue. The problem is when you want to push the engine past what it should be doing, then beat on it. 375/400 in that car is plenty.
So your personal single experience trumps thousands of other people's experiences, class action lawsuits, documented failures, etc? I'm sure there are some Jeep owners that have never had issues with their vehicles but that doesn't stop Jeep from being one of the least reliable manufacturers annually.
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      12-10-2019, 12:23 PM   #19
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So your personal single experience trumps thousands of other people's experiences, class action lawsuits, documented failures, etc? I'm sure there are some Jeep owners that have never had issues with their vehicles but that doesn't stop Jeep from being one of the least reliable manufacturers annually.
That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just saying that if you mod the car responsibly, and drive it within its limits, you should be just fine. The few do not outweigh the many, and we, as performance car enthusiasts, tend to think that what we see on forums is the norm. It's not. Many of my Subaru friends had the same experience I did, but they are just the few, so I did not mention them until now.

Now, 2006+ I can't speak for, I know they had ring-land issues among others.
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      12-16-2019, 12:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTBoss302 View Post
Unfortunately, the S209 was not available for this year's C&D Lightning Lap where the M2 C put down a time of 2:59.7

https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...lightning-lap/

However, C&D were able to put in some unofficial laps at VIR in a preproduction S209 which seem to suggest it might be capable of a similar lap time

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews...totype-driven/

For comparison, the 2018 STI Type RA put down a 3:04.9 lap in the 2018 LL (some 5.6 seconds faster than a standard 2015 STI managed back in the 2014 LL)

https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...ning-lap-2018/

Anyhow, I was curious if anyone here had any thoughts, feelings or experiences with the current generation of WRX STI (which will soon be replaced)
If you're looking strictly at the Lighting Lap, look at the tires on the M2C, they ran the standard Super Sports. They asked for the Cup 2s but they weren't available. There's at least a 2 second difference in tires on this track. That 2:59.7 would be a 2.57.XX or possibly a 2.56.XX with a set of Cup 2s. Unless Subaru drastically changes the suspension setup, i don't think the STI is going to be anywhere near that time.
Again, totally different cars but at a surprising similar price points (S209).
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      12-16-2019, 03:38 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumpinjeep View Post
If you're looking strictly at the Lighting Lap, look at the tires on the M2C, they ran the standard Super Sports. They asked for the Cup 2s but they weren't available. There's at least a 2 second difference in tires on this track. That 2:59.7 would be a 2.57.XX or possibly a 2.56.XX with a set of Cup 2s. Unless Subaru drastically changes the suspension setup, i don't think the STI is going to be anywhere near that time.
Again, totally different cars but at a surprising similar price points (S209).
Nevertheless, the M2 C still comes from the factory with Super Sports and is how the vast majority are delivered to new owners

Obviously, better tires will improve the M2 C's lap times, but the same could be said for the S209

Anyhow, according to the second link you quoted, the preproduction S209 was "running about five seconds quicker than the Type RA we lapped last year (3:04.9) and just a tenth or two behind our ATS-V's time (2:59.8)"

In other words, a stock S209 should be able to hang with a stock M2 around VIR

However, as I mentioned earlier, the M2 C's superior cooling system should give it a significant advantage for extended track work

In any case, as you said, these are two different types of cars and each has their pros and cons

The S209 is arguably a little more practical with four doors and AWD, but I would still give the "win" to the M2 C due to performance, quality and value
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      12-17-2019, 11:12 AM   #22
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Drives: F80, F87c, GT3, MK7 GTI
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Frisco, TX

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumpinjeep View Post
If you're looking strictly at the Lighting Lap, look at the tires on the M2C, they ran the standard Super Sports. They asked for the Cup 2s but they weren't available. There's at least a 2 second difference in tires on this track. That 2:59.7 would be a 2.57.XX or possibly a 2.56.XX with a set of Cup 2s. Unless Subaru drastically changes the suspension setup, i don't think the STI is going to be anywhere near that time.
Again, totally different cars but at a surprising similar price points (S209).
You forget 90% of the people that buy these cars could not drive them close to the full potential on track anyway so the car is not the limiting factor.
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