Slide behind the steering wheel of either the WRX or STI and you're greeted by a well-lit instrument cluster that's dominated by a large, centrally mounted tachometer. It's flanked on the right by a smaller speedo in Porsche fashion, and all the gauges are clearly marked and readable in an instant—gone are the tacky boy-racer and econo car designs of past generations. A pair of racing-style bucket seats is positioned up front, and while they are incredibly supportive, we did have some qualms. Namely, the seats come with a fixed headrest (the entire seatback is just one long piece) that some testers find uncomfortable.
Despite thick anti-roll bars and stiffer springs, both the WRX and STI soak up bumps, ruts, potholes, and coarse surfaces with aplomb. The ride is beautifully smooth and isolated; the handling is wonderfully direct and taut. At highway speeds, apart from a little engine rumble and wind noise from the side mirrors, things are very quiet in the cabin. The STI has a noticeably louder (lower, pulsating) exhaust note on startup that racer-types will love—and you'll notice it when driving hard—but in cruising it's never obtrusive.