Subaru Impreza STi v. Mitsubishi Evolution

Warren Brown over at the Washington Post had a car culture column that was pretty decent. Although it actually had less to do with car culture, and more to do with car industry as of late, which was okay, and more importantly, prescient. The column is now defunct thanks to more budgets cuts in the Washington Post regarding columns that people actually like to read, rather than columns people read out of morbid curiosity (can anyone say Charles Krauthammer).

But, I feel as if I never really got a full amount of culture out of “Car Culture.” One item I’d like to discuss today regards that of the personality differences between Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution owners versus owners of the Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

These two vehicles begot themselves simply out of necessity. Both Japanese manufacturers found they had a knack for producing vehicles to compete in the World Rally Championship. More relevantly (today at least), these manufacturers continue to produce these two vehicles for the sole purpose of homologation. That is to say, they make these vehicles simply so that those vehicles can compete in the Production class of the World Rally Championship. Take note that the Ford Focus and Citroen C4 make absolutely no appearance in the P-WRC because in real life, they have no 4-wheel drive variant.

So, after testing the waters with each other in the North American market, by 2003 these two manufacturers were making complete product entry with these two vehicles in the North American market.

From the beginning, these two vehicles set themselves apart from the rest of the sub compact market. How you may ask? Well, while one could argue that their sheer performance and their all-wheel drive WRC heritage was what did it, I see it as something else. Price point. The easiest way to get undereducated teenagers to not drive your flagship car is to not let them afford it.

So, either you have extremely knowledgeable and dedicated, or ignorantly affluent, people purchasing these vehicles. But something happened along the way.

At some point, when fellow Subaru owners found that they were a select few on the road and started forming collegial friendships regarding their mutual vehicle interests, Mitsubishi owners trended away to lone wolf status. And dickish ones to boot.

While the Lancer Evolution and Impreza WRX STI are comparably priced in the high 30s to low 40s, the rest of the Mitsubishi lineup is priced in the value range, while the remainder of the Subaru lineup is priced a bit higher. This only furthers the gap between the buyers of these two manufactures.

My good friend, Adam, has acquaintances in the Evolution community and explained it to me thusly:
“I always have other Subaru owners willing to help me out with something with my car if I needed anyone’s help. I’m not completely sure on how the Evolution community is. But I feel Subaru is a better community.”
The greatest example of the difference between these two vehicles owners comes in this online exchange where my friend, Adam, invited members from the Evolution web forums to a meet in Ocean City. Since Adam was organizing the meet, the main page was on NASIOC (North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club) web forums. The posts went something like this:
Adam: Hello, we would greatly enjoy the company of the Evolution members for a meeting of turbo charged all wheel drive vehicles.
Evolution forum member: Fuck you, faggot.

When people wonder why an American, Israeli, Iranian, Pakistani, or Indian cannot get along, I point them to these exchanges.

So, why the gap between these two car brand owners? I’ll posit a simple theory. It’s all about looks. The Subaru has been a very quirky looking car for quite some time. Their owners affectionately call the different front ends of various years “blob eye” or “bug eye.” With that considered. I think inherently, many …well… nerds have grown into this community. On top of that, Subaru has always advertised the technology in their vehicles very prominently.

The Evolution owners on the other hand seem to have completely bypassed the rally heritage inherent in their vehicles. Most - probably considerably more than Subaru owners – of Evolution owners have purchased their vehicle out of a need for grabbing into a subculture. That is to say, it’s about the Fast and the Furious for them. Ironic then that it is the Subaru community, out of its quest for brand independence, which has created a much more close knit community.


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