Oh man you are starting to sound like our Ferrari loving friend from this thread . Performance is important but you are going too far with it, you sound like you are just going to be driving around a track everyday where that second faster a pro driver can go around a track is the only thing that matters. I am a fan of WRXs and Subaru in general just not STIs which I think are some of the most overrated cars out there; unless of course you are only planning to race on a track. I don't want to comment on the other stuff you mention because I don't see how you can be disappointed in an 328i and IS250 for not being on the same level as some TOTL models; especially if my assumption is correct that you have never driven any of them.
LOL don't want that happening here. I admit, I'm not a die-hard petrol head, but I still think the STi is one of the best values out there. I admit, the WRX is a MUCH better solution because it has more than enough performance on the road, and it's actually a comfortable and useful car on the road. The STi however, it's nowhere near as comfortable, and with it's thirsty 93+ octane fuel, not exactly an economical solution as well. Actually, your assumption is off as I drove a 07 323i, 07 335i, forgot which year IS250 AWD, and the current STi. The STi and 335i were manuals and the lexus and 323i were auto. Honestly speaking, I thought the Lexus was a bit rubbish. The AWD system wasn't really good at all compared to Quattro and Subie's system, the steering felt unresponsive, and the engine was a bit sluggish. Gearbox was pretty good, but nothing special about an Auto. 323i was definitely better than the IS250 AWD as the 323i is rear-driven compared to a mediocre AWD system, but I still think the BMW would've been better than the Lexus if it wasn't AWD. I don't know, nothing really impressed me about the 323i. It was all too predictable. The steering and throttle was bang on, and I like the smooth I6 engine, but nothing really blew me away. However, the 335i was definitely something. It REALLY packed a punch. It just wanted to go sideways (it was raining) and everything was spot on from experience. The seating position, the gearbox, the engine, nothing was at fault with this one. Also, it had the red seats which I realllllly liked compared to the boring black interior in the 323i. STi to me, it was like my Legacy GT, but times 10. Unlike my LGT, it has a controllable center diff and a lot of electronic aids. The STi felt sooooo damn planted on the road and the speed of the thing! It was a testdrive with this one while I was waiting for my car to finish, but that really made me want to save up for one. I don't really like the look of the 5-door, but the 4-door looks golly amazing. It's really hard to think of another car for the price that does what the STi think and that's what I stand by. I don't care if you think I'm going too far because the STi is one of the best packages you can get for under $40k. People will argue that the EVOX is better, but like you said, I'm a Subaru fan like I'm a Grado fan. I think you should really ask the person if they drove the cars before presuming it because I don't usually say stuff on the internet to waste people's time. Just as more reference, I drove the BMWs and Lexus because my friends own them and they trust me with their cars (rich kids in Vancity... I feel out of place).