OK, the local Merc dealership just got a 2011 WRX hatchback in stock from a trade. Of course, they don't know a thing about it. It's 27000 dollars with about 8k miles on it, and it's the limited trim. Anyway, I took it for a spin (finally, got in a current-gen hatchback!) and it was pretty nice. Since I can do a U-turn on the highway in WV, I can tell you that it will actually do 0-60 in about 5 seconds - so can the car salesman
OK, that said, the guy was really eager to show me what a 'grown up car' was like. They had a 2009 C300 sedan with an automatic that was comparatively priced, so I thought I would post up what I thought of both cars. You know, to give people a little perspective.
The WRX in bright red looks like a boy-racer mobile by comparison. The Mercedes... If you don't look at the badge on the back you'd have no idea what model it is, and to look at it you DEFINITELY can't tell it's a $40k car. Or $30. That said, you can tell the paint on the subaru costs about 12 dollars - it already had chips with only 7000 miles. The Mercedes had no chips that I saw, so that's nice at least. Your bland car can look precisely bland FOREVER.
The Mercedes wins... but not by as much as you might think. I thought the infotainment system was fiddly and stupid, and to be honest I think it would be a huge distraction. Plus the ergonomics seemed pretty weak - the armrest was a lot lower than anyone my height would expect it to be. Also, the window controls were vertical... What? Odd car, overall. The factory stereo was in every way superior to that of the WRX, but again, lets try not to be too surprised. And to be honest, the seats really weren't that comfortable! I would call it even.
The WRX is faster (yeah, no crap! I was shocked too. lulz. ) Of course it was somewhat loud over the freeway, and the ride was a little firm. However, compared to the light pickup I'm used to driving it was absolutely angelic. The steering weight is nice and the engine note is a blast. I can honestly say that the shifter in my 2006 Tacoma is actually more accurate and involving than that in the WRX. The WRX conveys power from something way more interesting, though.
The Mercedes steering was overboosted and vauge, to be honest. I hate to say it but was pretty weak. The acceleration wasn't particularly breathtaking, and considering that the car comes with a V6 and gets gas mileage on par with the STI, I wasn't impressed. Road noise wise, it was NO BETTER IN ANY WAY THAN THE WRX, nor was the ride comfort. The automatic plain sucks. In sport mode, with the setting on to choose your own shifts, it reacts about as fast as sending a text to the person next to you that they should shift. Also it's completely disobedient, shifting up when I was like 3000 rpm from the redline. If I'm not in 'DANGER TO MANIFOLD' territory, leave me alone about protecting the engine! Stupid car.
The moral of the story is, the WRX is as refined as a Mercedes. Get one today.