10 Affordable Sports Cars We’d Buy Over The Subaru WRX STI

Twenty years ago, the Subaru WRX STI was one of the best sports cars on the market. It offered a unique combination of power and handling both on and off road thanks to its rally roots. Buyers also had bragging rights that the competition version of the car was one of the world rally championship’s top contenders, even winning the driver’s title from the hands of Petter Solberg in 2003. But times have changed. changed and Subaru does not even participate in the competition anymore. CMR. It would be unfair to say that the car isn’t as good as it used to be, rather it’s that other rivals have passed it in many respects.

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From its price to its performance capabilities, there are plenty of areas where the current WRX STI model lags behind its competitors. Buyers who want full power can find it elsewhere, and those looking for better value have no shortage of alternative options either. Don’t get me wrong: the WRX STI is still a decent choice, but these ten cars from across the sports car spectrum all beat it hands down in at least one key aspect.

ten VW Golf GTI


Front and grille of the VW Golf GTI 2022
Via VW

When it comes to making everyday driving fun, few cars do it as well as the Golf GTI. The latest Golf Mk8 is more refined than ever, but it offers more power and more precise handling both at speed and when cruising. It’s also cheap, as a base WRX STI starts at around $38,000, while a base GTI costs just $30,500.


The 2022 VW Golf GTI on the road
Via VW

Its useful hatchback design means it’s just as practical as the Subaru, and considerably more economical, so running costs shouldn’t be an issue. The only disappointment with the GTI is its disappointing interior, but Subaru isn’t exactly famous for its plush cabins either.

9 BMW M2 Competition


BMW M2 Competition
Via bring a trailer

BMW has halted production of the M2 in preparation for the launch of a new generation later this year, but there are still plenty of near-new examples lying around dealerships. With an original MSRP of $58,900, it’s a more expensive option than a WRX STI, but when buying used, M2s can be found for less than $50,000.


BMW M2 Competition
Via bring a trailer

That makes it a bit more expensive than a top-of-the-line WRX STI, which starts at $43,000 with no extra options added. The BMW is in a different league when it comes to driving abilities, as it is widely regarded as one of the best driver’s cars of its generation, with veteran motoring journalist Chris Harris so impressed with the car that he bought two.

8 Mazda MX-5 Miata


Mazda Miata RF
Via Mazda USA

One of the main draws of the WRX STI was its value for money, but that’s no longer the case. It now positions itself squarely in the middle of the “affordable performance car” segment and, therefore, its shortcomings cannot be forgiven so easily.


Mazda Miata RF
Via Mazda USA

One of the few sports cars that can still be considered a bargain is the Mazda Miata, which starts at just $26,500. It’s certainly not as practical as a WRX STI or as fast, but its handling remains among the best in its class. Not to mention that it will save its buyer about $15,000 by buying the Subaru.

7 Subaru BRZ


2022 Subaru BRZ
By Subaru

Anyone who sticks to the Subaru badge shouldn’t despair, because there are two better options than a WRX STI offered by Subaru anyway. One of them is the BRZ, the collaborative sports car developed with Toyota which has just been relaunched for a second generation.

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Buy a Used Subaru BRZ (3 We’d Save for New)


Subaru BRZ
By Subaru

The new generation is faster than before, and Subaru says it’s more precise to drive thanks to a new chassis setup. It may not offer the same off-road capabilities as a WRX STI, but it will be more nimble and less expensive too, with a starting price of around $28,000.

6 Nissan Z


2023 Nissan Z
Through Nissan

The long-awaited replacement for the 370Z has finally arrived in the form of the Z, a 400hp V6-powered sports coupe that’s expected to hit dealerships in 2023. It comes with a manual gearbox and RWD, so it ticks really all the right boxes for a real enthusiasts car.


2023 Nissan Z
Through Nissan

Exact pricing hasn’t been released, but it should be around $40,000, which puts it about on par with the WRX STI. It might not be as practical to drive on a daily basis as a WRX STI, but it’s definitely more powerful, with 90 extra horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque over the Subaru.

5 Kia Stinger


The front of the Stinger in red
Your KIA

For anyone who just needs a four-door sedan, Kia is offering a compelling alternative to the WRX STI with their 2022 Stinger. It’s slightly more powerful than the even roomier Subaru, and it feels a lot taller than range to sit inside.

RELATED: 5 Reasons We’d Buy a Kia Stinger (5 Reasons We’d Rather Have an Audi S4)


The back of the Stinger
Your KIA

Two engine options are available, but the more powerful V6 is the best choice. In GT1 spec, the Stinger costs around $44,000, making it a fraction more expensive than the Subaru, but well worth the extra cash.

4 Toyota GR Supra


Front 3/4 view of a blue GR Supra
ViaToyota

The new Supra has drawn a lot of ire from purists that it was co-developed with BMW, and it’s mostly a Z4 underneath, but the simple fact is that it’s a sports car excellent value for money that Toyota is (rightly) very proud of. With a starting price of around $43,500, it’s about the same price as a well-optioned WRX STI, but it comes with a significant benefits package.


Rear 3/4 view of a blue GR Supra
ViaToyota

Its cabin and ride are first-class, a far cry from the relatively primitive layout of the WRX STI. It’s also unsurprisingly a hoot to drive, with plenty of power on tap and room to upgrade thanks to an already thriving aftermarket.

3 Ford-Mustang


2022 Ford Mustang Ice White Edition
Through Ford

Buying a Mustang won’t earn anyone points for originality, but it’s hard to argue with it in terms of value for money. It starts at just $28,500, but most buyers will want to opt for the GT specification which pushes the asking price up to $38,500, right up there with a base WRX STI.


2022 Ford Mustang Ice White Edition
Through Ford

The best part about the Mustang is the number of trim options available, from the economy base spec all the way up to the $78,000 Shelby GT500. It’s one of the easiest cars to maintain, running costs are reasonable and it’s still a lot of fun to drive.


2 Toyota GR Yaris


Toyota GR Yaris
ViaToyota

Subaru’s world-class rally days are over, and today it’s Toyota, Hyundai and Ford battling it out for WRC dominance. Of these three, only one made a production version of his competition rally car. The GR Yaris is basically the 2021 WRC car with a few tweaks to make it more comfortable and sent straight to dealerships.


Toyota GR Yaris
ViaToyota

That’s about as close to a modern rally car for the road as you can get. In other words, that’s exactly what the Impreza WRX STI was twenty years ago. The catch, of course, is that the car isn’t available in the US, but for anyone in Europe, Asia or Australia, it’s by far the best road-legal rally car currently in sale.


1 Subaru WRX


2022 Subaru WRX on the road
By Subaru

The WRX STI may no longer be the bargain it used to be, but it’s worth remembering that it’s not the only four-door sport compact Subaru sells. The WRX has been tweaked into a separate model, and with a starting price of $30,000, it’s far more competitive than its big sibling.


2022 Subaru WRX on the road
By Subaru

The WRX only gets 270 horsepower versus the WRX STI’s 310 horsepower, but most drivers will be happy to give up the extra power for a lower purchase price. Other than that, it has many of the same goodies as the WRX STI, including its off-road capabilities, spacious cabin and entertaining driving dynamics. The biggest difference, of course, is that it offers all of these things for a lot less money, and that alone makes it the better choice of the two.


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