The Subaru Impreza WRX owners community will probably send a scary guy with a baseball bat to visit me for this comment, but for years before its latest 2011 update, the WRX has looked a little bit awkward.

With many body elements borrowed from the ultra high-performance STI version of the standard WRX, Subaru’s latest is notably more focused and aggressive.

It’s wider, fitted with new front and rear fascias, and includes four exhaust pipes that could nearly swallow your fist. Looks like some teenagers got their hands on mommy’s Visa and took it on an all-expenses paid trip to go-fast-goody land.

That widened body gives the latest WRX a fantastic stance while allowing engineers to increase track width for more planted handling. That’s backed up by heavy suspension modifications and wider tires. And of course, Symmetrical, always-on All Wheel Drive.

 

The gist? Where dynamics are concerned, this latest WRX cranks the dial to 11.

Drivers get high-performance traction on any surface. Just point the car, squeeze the throttle, and hold your course, and it goes about ripping corners to shreds. Powering up your rally-driving adventures is Subaru’s staple 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine, fitted with variable valve timing and an intercooled turbocharger for this application. The latter forces cool, compressed air and high-octane gas into the engine on command to crank out 265 horsepower.

The engine is torquey and responsive in gentle driving, where it’ll also turn in decent fuel mileage and operate with minimal noise. But that’s no fun.

Hammer down, and the Subaru boxer engine makes it trademark lumpy V-8 sound effects off the line before delivering a delightful high-r.p.m. growl overlapped by whining noises from the turbocharger and gearbox. At full throttle, it sounds just like a rally car.

A manual five-speed transmission is the only gearbox available, and it operates with a slick-shifting feel despite a relatively tall shifter and long throw. The clutch is aggressive but also easy to use in traffic, and sporty pedals with ideal spacing make heel-and-toe shifting a breeze.

Light and easygoing steering allows drivers to direct the WRX’s capable chassis around with minimal effort, effectively encouraging exploration of the machine’s limits. And for all the grip, the ride isn’t terrible at all.

Drawbacks? The WRX’s interior is starting to look and feel plenty dated, and certain interior trim bits feel downright low-budget.

Some vehicles at this price point treat you to a really upscale cabin, but in the WRX, you’re investing more in the hardware under the hood, and under the floor.

Subaru WRX


  • Starting Price (WRX 5-Door): $33,395.

  • Engine: 2.5-litre boxer four-cylinder with intercooled turbocharger, 265 horsepower.

  • Observed Average Mileage: 10.2L / 100km (requires premium fuel).

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