Well, I guess I'll blow the first post here....
Specifically joined this forum as I'm torn between the MS3, WRX, and GTI. I have a 1st gen Miata now, love the drive, but recently moved to Chicago from CA, drive a heck of a lot further now, and though I grew up driving FWD in the snow, a Miata on the Dan Ryan 60 miles a day in foul weather just kinda weirds me out, to be honest.
Driven all 3. Like all three for totally different reasons. GTI is nice and compact, easy to park in the city. Best fuel economy. Lots of features. Got that strange button-downed feeling on the freeway that German cars seem to have. Interior is very nicely done. Main downsides are that I'd have to get the DSG (a GREAT transmission BTW), but I'm a manual guy. I just absolutely detest VW clutches. The travel is incredibly long, making you sit too close to gas and brake. No matter what I can't get used to it (ex GF had a new beetle, hated it, drove a Passat diesel in Germany, hated it). That and the whole VW horror-story thing. It is still on my list, but I think close to falling off. I'd have to drive it again.
So I'm left between the MS3 and WRX. To be honest, this is an even harder choice than getting rid of the GTI. First is that the speed is definitely a superb driver. It is a real hoot the way my Miata makes me feel, yet a lot more practical. Local dealer will allow S-Plan (though i will need to investigate whether or not this is a good deal or I should bargain), making the MS3 pretty much the same price, or cheaper than the GTI. I am also eligible for Subaru supplier pricing, which is nice. Really the biggest downs are that it feels cheaper (in the controls, quality, etc), and the torque steer. Man O Man, coming from RWD to a monster FWD is a bit of a let down. 3rd gear is a total hoot, but gettin on the accelerator in 1st or 2nd can be the opposite of fun/finesse. You're just tryin to keep the wheel straight and the tires gripping the pavement. Bottom line this is a hell of a car for a hell of a price.
And lastly is the new WRX 5-door (jeez the sedan is awful looking). I NEVER liked the old WRX. Drove one in 2002 (bug eyed one), with the 2.0L turbo. TERRIBLE car. The engine was horribly peaky, no low end torque, and the interior was awful. Hated it. However, I find myself really, really liking this new one. I actually really like this new body style. Front is a little odd, but I like the lines on the rest of it. Clean, smooth, and I do like the taillamps actually. The ride is very very well done, the handling is solid, and the engine is my fav of the 3. Maybe I'm one of those new customers Subaru is after.... And it is wonderful with the AWD to floor the gas and the thing just goes. No drama, no fighting, just goes. Add to it that it would be wonderful in the more foul weather and it gives me the most comfort, safety wise. However, this sucker gets expensive. And at that, it doesn't have Xenons available (I'll not worry about sunroof since MS3 doesn't have it either), the MPG is the worst, and the interior is just so-so.
Funny thing is that the MS3 is definitely the most fun, but I sit here and wonder if the WRX is "fun enough" while being a lot more civilized for most of the driving I do, which is on the highway, in the city, in rain-and-snow. Sure sport is fun when you want it, but you gotta have comfort too (as my Miata has taught me). AWD is a great safety feature. The ride over potholes and broken pavement (a lot of it in Chicago) is buttery. Feels a little more "grown up" to me than the MS3 does. On the other hand, maybe I just need a wee bit more comfort than a Miata and MS3 is perfect. I'd hate to get a WRX and think I should have gotten something sportier.
So I'm torn. Obviously I am the one who makes the final say. Just concerned that the torque steer and all-weather capability in the MS3 will get to/bother me. Will it be too much? Is the WRX a better compromise? Is a WRX $2000 better (supplier to supplier price) than the MS3? Will I really need the AWD more than 1-2 times per year? etc. Insurance is another consideration. Been looking and seems MS3 is definitely less than a WRX, which I find odd being the MS3 is cheaper (potentially opening the door to younger, more inexperienced drivers) and arguably less-safe crash-test wise and AWD-wise. Any ins company recommendations are appreciated. I feel I've tried most and a lot have a WRX at hundreds of bucks more per year than the Mazda. And I have a perfect driving record. I can deal with $525/6mo, $700-$800/6mo is a little ridiculous for the WRX. And what are these tranny issues? I'm still investigating the Mazda problems, so trying to compare. I've owned nothing but Mazda's since I started driving, 2 626's (one with 130,000 when sold, the 2nd with 190,000 when rear-ended and totaled), both cost almost nothing to keep running. My Miata has needed a bit of work, but I think my 626's were more flukes in not needing anything than something wrong with the Miata. Only about $600 in work for a 10 year old car in 3 years. I can live with that. Parents had a Millenia that was just as good as my 626's. I'd expect the MS3 to be similar, though maybe not. Never had any experience with Subarus. None in the family. No friends. All I seem to know is that people in North Idaho (where I grew up) LOVED them, and there seemed to be a lot of old ones out there with a gazillion miles and still running, but with horrible exterior rust and really foul interiors. But they ran. I hear good things about Subaru, can I expect that on the WRX?
Anyway, glad to be here. Maybe you'll see me around more in the future.