I have a WRX again!
I'll preface this by defending what worked with that little Fiesta. It's still the most fun car I've owned, if not one of the most fun cars I've ever driven. Everything about the driving experience is tuned to interface directly with your adrenaline gland. Ford's engineers put a Herculean amount of chassis and powertrain engineering into that little hatchback, and on the right stretch of tarmac, it's more delightful than some cars three times its price. When the chips are down, though, it's still based on Ford's cheapest car. And it shows.
I had to replace a blown front strut at 4,000 miles, which reported itself with a less-than-subtle SLAM over the most meager of road imperfections. Trim pieces were loosening themselves from the dashboard; even worse, some bolts on crucial parts (like the driver's door) weren't fully tightened down from the factory. The radio occasionally wouldn't play AM stations, at all. Various plastic interior bits would vibrate and buzz at a level far beyond tolerable, and I spent hours dampening them with air-conditioner foam. I went back to dodging potholes and bumps like I did in my lowered Acura RSX; hitting them would make the car nervous and twitchy. If there was a little snow or ice around, the car would make it about halfway up the many hills in my area before petering out and spinning its wheels, snow tires be damned.
Okay, so that last one was my fault for getting a two-wheel-drive car and trying to make it drive in snow like a Subaru. Suffice to say, though, the magic of the Fiesta faded a bit, weathered by entry-level Ford issues. It didn't help that I needed to shop around before I found a good Ford service center (Maplecrest in Mendham, NJ, ask for Will).
I loved that car. As tumultuous relationships go, however, it was best to part with it. In its place comes the current-generation of the old friend, a 2017 Subaru WRX in Ice Silver Metallic.
Initial impressions? While it still has a few of the WRX quirks of old, it's a vast improvement over the previous-generation model I parted with eight months ago. While the driving experience won't quite match the Fiesta ST in the corners, it's clear that Subaru recognized the shortcomings of the last-generation WRX by giving this one a proper 6-speed manual, beefier steering, and much more positive brakes. The interior, while a bit spartan, is a nicer place to be by miles; the Harmon Kardon stereo option puts plenty of kick into my Finnish metal playlist, there's a trick little multi-function display that gives me a boost gauge, there's soft-touch surfaces everywhere, and I can get weather reports on the infotainment unit. You'll need to wait until this car goes past the 1,000 mile break-in period before the full review, however. Not taking the motor past 4,000 RPM is heavily testing my resolve.
Oh, here's a fun fact to wrap things up: I waved to about ten other Fiesta ST owners that I saw on the road while I had it. None waved back. I've had the WRX for three days, and I've gotten high-beam flashes, waves, and peace signs from other Subarus on the streets.
If nothing else, I'm happy to be back in a community that's as passionate about their cars as I am. But maybe those Fiesta owners couldn't wave back -- perhaps they were holding down a piece of plastic trim that was dislodging itself.