Subaru is trying, and their new generations of infotainment systems are better by far than those of old. But they lack the crisp execution of the VW and no Android Auto/Car Play is a big minus. The Golf feels more luxurious, with high quality materials and a better executed finish, not to mention a far more serene cabin.

The Golf R takes out this section of our little battle comprehensively.

Other Random Stuff

The Subaru doesn’t get a hatch. It didn’t when it first came out and it doesn’t again today and nor should it – I’ve always found more useable cargo volume from a proper boot anyway, what with seats and cargo covers in the way and all.

Our Jeff Wilson finds this a travesty, and it’s something that drove his brother to buy himself a Golf R instead. More people agree with Jeff than me, so we’d probably better wipe off a point for the Subaru not being a hatch. Also, the cargo volume is a generous 645 L (and expandable to 1,492) in the Golf, but only 340 in the STI.

So here, as elsewhere, the Golf makes a nod to practicality and shows off its breadth of talent. The Subaru with its refusal to sacrifice chassis stiffness for cargo volume shows off its focus.

The Golf gets better fuel economy too.

Verdict

Jeff says, “Those looking to campaign their daily driver in weekend rally events, or seeking the faster car in a track setting should choose the Subaru.  For the rest of us living in the real world of thick traffic misery and paying for our own fuel who still want a solid, all-round performance car are better off with the Golf R – a car that feels much more expensive than it looks.  Throw the VW’s hatchback usability and the Golf R becomes the obvious choice for me.”

For me, I’d like a Golf R to drive out to the twisties, and then I’d jump into the Subaru for the good bit. If I wanted a car, I’d pick the Golf R, but if I’m shopping in this category I don’t want a car, I want a toy. And because I’m writing this, the Subaru wins.

It has hydraulic steering, real mechanical diffs (three of them) and enough wow factor to make you grin like an idiot every time you walk up to it. Above all else, it is the most fun to drive.

Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/unlimited distance roadside assistance

Pricing: 2016 Subaru WRX STI
Base Price: $40,795
Options: STI front underspoiler – $440, rear underspoiler – $520, rear quarter underspoiler – $370, side underspoiler – $570, STI Performance Exhaust – $1,200
A/C Tax: $100
Freight and PDI: $1,655
Price as Tested: $45,645

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km roadside assistance

Pricing: 2016 Volkswagen Golf R
Base Price: $41,395
Options: Technology package – $2,015
A/C Tax: $100
Freight and PDI: $1,605
Price as Tested: $45,115

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