Alright folks let’s get past the comments about how this car has been stereotyped in the past and talk about it, because at roughly $40k it doesn’t more satisfying then the 2014 Subaru WRX.
I’d been excited to drive this car since the moment it was announced, especially after spending some time in a friend’s chipped WRX earlier in the year. With Subaru placing a heavy emphasis on marketing an automatic version I was torn deciding which one I wanted to loan for a week. When they called me and told me I could have both back to back I was relieved I didn’t have to make the decision myself, and excited to see if the Auto was up to scratch.
In its fourth generation Subaru have decided to drop the Impreza badge even though the new WRX shares the same chassis and interior with the brand’s top selling car. The fourth generation WRX also sees the marque move away from the hatchback, reminiscent of the first sedan that launched 10 years ago.
The styling of the car itself is modest when you consider the models that have come before it. Large rear wings are a thing of the past but the iconic bonnet scoop remains, albeit not as imposing as past examples. The styling at the front is noticeably more refined whereas the rear appears to be more of an after thought – it’s not bad by any means just a little tame when compared to the front on view.
We drove two examples over two weeks, a foundation model with a 6 speed manual gearbox and a Premium CVT Auto with paddles. The car starts from $38,990 (plus on roads) which makes it the most affordable in the model’s 20 year history but needs to be with some stiff competition in the category from the likes of the Ford Focus ST. Adding the CVT auto will set you back another $2000. There’s also a $5000 Premium option which we tested in the second week adding Harman Kardon sound, keyless ignition, leather seats, navigation, sunroof and electric drivers seat. Subaru have clearly worked hard to improve the cabin and both the foundation model with fabric seats and Premium leather interior are a big step forward for the WRX.
Subaru have dropped the size of the engine from a 2.5 litre down to a 2.0 but it hasn’t stopped them gaining 2kw of output via a more efficient full injection system. In my opinion the manual is the superior option and the option that makes sense. If you’re buying a WRX you’re looking for a true ‘drivers car’ and the manual gearbox gets the car off the line in far more exciting fashion. The lag on the auto is far more noticeable and the transition between gears is far more satisfying in the manual (the WRX manual gearbox now gets the STI shift-assembly and the ratios are spot on).
Driving the manual down McCarrs Creek Rd into Church Point was one of the most exciting drives I’ve had in a long long time. The manual gives you the ability to control the revs much better than the auto which I felt was somewhat jerky at times. Driving the Auto in Sport mode also increases the amount of ratios from 6 to 8, giving the car more choices than it ultimately needs. The WRX shines under the pump. The whole front end is superb. It has been engineered to be driven at speed – the chassis is stiff and the cornering ability is second to none in the category. Exiting corners is exhilarating with the amount of grip and Torque available, and listening to the turbo whoosh is just magical. All in all it’s a stupid fun car to drive.
I think I’ve made it clear which transmission I preferred driving but the premium interior pack definitely gets the nod over the standard fabric seats (if you’ve got the extra $5k handy). The new WRX has grown up a lot and represents insane value for the amount of performance it offers. If you’re looking for a car that you look forward to driving every time you climb in, then this new WRX is definitely worth your consideration.