Is a Subaru WRX STI Faster Than a Ford Taurus?

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Here's a pretty ridiculous question -- at least, it certainly was about a decade ago. Back in 2003, Ford's Taurus was rental-car quick at about 16 seconds flat in the quarter, and the STi was a 13-second rocket ship. But that was when Ford was content to limp along in anonymity, and Subaru was at the top of its game. Fast-forward 10 years, and this race suddenly gets a great deal closer.

SHO vs. STi

  • The 2013 WRX STi has 305 horsepower and weighs in at 3,200 pounds; the Ford Taurus SHO is a great deal heavier at 4,400 pounds, but comes to the party with 365 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque just off idle. Both cars rock the Earth with all-wheel drive and turbochargers. The Subaru is slightly smaller when viewed from the front, and the two have about the same drag coefficient. So, aerodynamic differences are fairly minimal, with a slight edge going to the Subaru. But is that edge enough to overcome the Subaru's power disadvantage when outright power counts most?

Race Time

  • The lighter Subaru just hole-shots the heavy Ford with its 0.2-second quicker 5.0-second 0-to-60 time. Further down the strip, the powerful SHO reels the STi in, just nosing ahead by 0.1-second at 13.7 seconds through the traps. This seems like a real driver's race, and it is -- until you realize that the Ford's 103.2 mph trap speed is 3 mph higher than the Subaru's. On the top end, these two are very, very close. With the speed governors turned off, mathematical models give the Taurus a hypothetical 165 mph top speed; the Subaru's hypothetically good for 163 mph. The gap here is no narrow that adding or removing 5 psi of air in the tires could easily make the difference between winning and losing for either car.

Food for Thought

  • It's almost as though Ford specifically engineered the SHO to keep up with hooligans in rice rockets -- cops who drive SHOs as interceptors can probably see the logic.

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