First, let's clear something up: HP at the wheels is HP at the wheels. Everything else being equal, it doesn't make any difference if a car is RWD, AWD, or FWD if the HP at the wheels is identical. Once traction isnít an issue, neither AWD, FWD, or RWD has any advantage or disadvantage.
That being said, thereís no reason we have to debate the whole WRX vs Cobalt SS vs GTI issue. Itís already been measured empirically. Ignoring standing start numbers, hereís how they stack up.
Stage II WRX: 5.8
5-100 roll (calculated by adding 5-60 and 60-100 times):
Stage II WRX: 13.4
30-100 (calculated by subtracting 0-30 time from 0-100 time):
Stage II WRX: Unavailable
60-100 (calculated by subtracting 0-60 time from 0-100 time):
Stage II WRX: 7.6
So, there it is. By largely negating the WRXís AWD advantage itís clear that the Cobalt and the Mazdaspeed 3 are noticeably quicker than a stock WRX, and a stage 2 WRX is slightly quicker than a stock Cobalt or MS3. The GTI simply isnít in the same league as the WRX, MS3 or Cobalt SS and would probably need an additional 50hp at the wheels to keep up with a stock WRX from a roll.
Anybody who dismisses the Cobalt SS as just another crappy domestic car really needs to drive one. Itís faster than the WRX, handles better, and even has a better interior (in my opinion). I love AWD, otherwise I would have purchased a Cobalt SS instead of my 2009 WRX.