UPDATE: Someone responded negatively to this post, saying it was biased and that I didn’t supply hard data. I did not approve it since it read like a 10-year-old wrote it. About the data: there are many places on the internet where you can get hard data. In fact, there are several magazine articles that I reference on this blog that have data. The thing about data is that it can be read in many ways when using it as support media. You can also make pretty accurate assumptions from the gaps within the details. And about the bias, I’ve yet to read an article that has 100% unbiased opinions on the subject. I’m all for constructive criticism, but if you’re going to bring it, at least show me how you’d have done it better (provide the facts that I’m missing and show me an unbiased report). Of course I’ve bias…I’m the owner of an EJ-powered car and this is my corner of the internet. There’s nothing to stop me from being biased on my own blog. 🙂 Even if I owned or have extensive experience with an FA20DIT, I’d still favor the EJ. It’s more proven…that comes with years of use. We know what will fail. With the FA20DIT, we don’t. Just because we know a part will fail doesn’t mean that the component is shit. It just means that we know where the issue will occur and will know how to deal with it when it appears. You can’t say the same of the FA20DIT at this point in time. Maybe 10 years from now, though. As for which is better from a performance standpoint, the EJ has FAR more aftermarket support. So, DIT makes it easier for the FA20DIT to generate power…no one is refuting that, just as no one is refuting the fact that the FA20DIT is an adequate replacement for the outgoing EJ255 that resided in the 2011-2014 WRXs (we’re NOT talking about the EJ257 that resides in the existing STI, as well as prior versions of the STI, though), but we’ll answer with a question: why hasn’t Subaru put the FA20DIT into an STI yet? It probably has to do with the fact that the FA20DIT isn’t a revver and tends to run out of steam rather early. It’s a good engine for the street because it offers it’s power earlier than the EJ, with less lag, but that’s only because of the twin scroll setup (the turbocharger setup is different between the two). As well, I’ve yet to see any article that shows that the stock WRX is desirable in a track environment (circuit, not drag strip). I’ve never seen a track driver say, “I think I like the WRX better.” When anyone can provide what I’ve asked or what I’ve pointed out as lacking, maybe I’ll change my stance.
I also think that pricing comparisons nullify any performance arguments – if you have to mention Car X is better because it costs less when comparing performance between the two cars, that is a hint that Car X probably isn’t a good car to compare to Car B. That is the reason why I do not compare by price in this article. I wanted this to be a comparison based solely on performance. When I bought my STI, I was looking at WRXs as well, but I was never looking with the “I want a car that’s as good as an STI but cheaper” mentality, because that’s compromising.
UPDATE 2: Someone attempted to post the following (I even didn’t entertain approving the post): “Sti 6 speed and axles with an fa20dit beats all”. My response is, we’re talking stock for stock. I’m not going to get into some hybrid build between STI and WRX. We’re totally talking OEM here. What you do in your own garage is your business. If we talk of builds in such a fashion, we may as well accept LS1-engined WRXs into the discussion. That’s a bit stupid, IMO.
I occasionally see someone saying that the FA20DIT is a better engine than the EJ257. I agree when looking at the stats of these two engines, but real-world, I don’t think so.
The reasons are:
The EJ257 has been used going on 15 years, with wide aftermarket support. The FA20DIT’s aftermarket support is growing, yes, but it will take time to determine the FA’s weakness as it relates to longevity and aftermarket support. I believe Subaru thinks the same thing, otherwise they’d have no problem putting the FA20DIT into the next STI. As it stands now, two model-years have gone by without putting the FA into the STI. As well, they aren’t using the FA20DIT in their rally or Nurburgring cars (the Nurburgring car uses the EJ207, but it’s still not using the FA20DIT). I’ve also heard that the direct injection causes mad carbon build-up (many people were expecting that).
As well, you’ve tons of people stating that the WRX itself is a superior car to the STI, which is a bit dumb. First of all, that’s like comparing an Camaro SS to a Camaro SS with the 1LE package. They’re basically the same car but one is a base car while the other is tuned. When comparing performance aspects, one should not also compare the financial savings between the WRX and STI, as that does NOT relate to performance.
If you’re looking for a nice car, a WRX is a good choice, but if you plan to track that vehicle and be competitive, you’ve two choices…get the STI and have a near-race-ready car (and remember, you can still own an STI and have no inclination to track it), or get the WRX and end up spending much more than the difference in price between the two cars. Many people say, “well, I can tune the suspension and up the power for less than $10K.” While that may be true, you still won’t have a car that will equal the STI. You might be able to run a quicker quarter-mile time, but you still won’t have an STI. In either case, you might end up with one aspect of the WRX being better than the STI…the STI will be better at the other comparable aspects. For the money, the STI is just flat-out better at most things the WRX does as it relates to performance…because it’s tuned for the track. The WRX will be better as it relates to street focus and everyday driving (it has more torque down low and will require less shifting, especially with it having a twin-scroll turbocharger). The trade-off is that it’ll quickly run out of steam when going all-out (ie, in circuit racing). But also, it’s more than just adding parts to a WRX…who tunes the suspension? Who tunes the engine after adding the power-adders that will make the engine just as powerful as the EJ variant that resides in the STI? Either the owner or a tuning specialist. Both of those aspects will cost money, by the way, even if the owner ends up tuning his/her own car, because the owner still has to buy and install the parts and there’s a cost (maybe not monetary, but there’s still a cost) to ensuring the job is done correctly. As well, even if tuned, a WRX will still lack a robust 6-speed transmission. The new transmission in the VA-chassis is the same as what was in the GR/GV chassis WRXs. It is a Legacy throwback with an extra gear. The new 6-speed in the WRX is still glassy…up the power and risk your transmission. It is also still cable actuated. It is no match for the STI’s 6-speed transmission. Additionally, it was mentioned that a WRX will stop shorter than an STI with Brembos…that may be true but it’ll happen only once, as a WRX’s brakes will fade drastically after the first braking test run, and if you’re on a track you’ll get maybe one lap (depending on the track) before the brakes pads become unreliable. STIs will also eventually cook their brakes (again, it depends on the track) but not as drastically as the WRX. I believe it’s more than just changing pads, too. The STI has bigger brakes and the pads are more aggressive…they’re just going to work better than WRX braking equipment.
Admittedly, an STI will beat you up when it comes to ride quality and when being compared to a WRX. It’s ride is stiffer. That’s the nature of the beast. If you don’t like such things, don’t get the car, but it is what it is. The STI is less of a compromise when you’re driving spiritedly.
There is also a common misconception that the EJ is less reliable than the FA20DIT. The first thing that comes to mind is the ringland issue that EJs tend to have. My car has close to 30K miles and hasn’t yet had an issue with ringlands breaking. I believe it’s a matter of not beating on the engine. What do I mean by this? I mean, don’t rev and race off to work without giving the chance for the engine to warm and circulate it’s fluids. Don’t lug the engine in a higher gear than necessary (ie, doing 30mph in 5th or 6th gear, going full-throttle in 6th while at 50mph on an incline). Don’t bang off the rev limiter. Change your oil as recommended in the manual. Check the oil religiously and ensure the oil is at a satisfactory level. Running a tune? Perform datalogging at regular intervals, just to ensure the logs aren’t showing bad signs. Many forums complain that the EJ257 is troublesome, but maybe it’s because people are tinkering too much with parts and tunes. Some guys report that they’re on their 3rd and 4th engines…WTF? They’re not doing something right or they’re mettling in things they don’t understand (and blaming it on Subaru when they break things). Yes, some stock engines have ringland or bearing issues…if it were as bad a problem as people mention in the forums, Subaru would’ve got in front of the issue a long time ago (or been forced to by the government).
That’s just my spin on things, though. YMMV.