Test Drive Notes Library
- Fun to drive. This particular cult version of the Subaru Impreza sedan is designed mostly for boy racers. It’s tweaked for more power and better road holding than the run-of-the-mill Impreza. And it works. It’s very quick, holds the road with remarkable tenacity, and is fun to drive. Its closest competitor is probably the VW GTI, or on the upper end, the Golf R. The WRX is part of a tradition of cars that are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Stealthy sports cars based on practical car underpinnings.
- Basically practical. With all the vroom vroom stuff, it’s still a pretty useful Impreza. It’s got four doors, all wheel drive, the EyeDrive safety suite (only with automatic transmission), and decent room for a small family, even for those who have to ride in the back seat. So if you are forced to give up your beloved Miata because you got married and now have to pick up your mother-in-law on Sundays, the WRX is a compromise you may be able to talk your wife into.
- Affordable. For the amount of practical power and the road-holding grip you get, the WRX is a relative bargain. Our WRX Premium test car came with a package called “Series. White.” Guess what color it was? Correct! That package comes with some performance enhancements like Brembo brakes and Bilstein dampers. Plus a bunch of cosmetic add ons. Still, even with that $4,200 option package, our WRX left the showroom well-equipped at just a hair over $35,000.
- Doesn’t scream “look at me!” If you squint, it looks a little bit like a four-door version of BMW's 2-Series coupe, if one of BMW’s designers was still in high school. Subaru has a long history of “sporting-up” their cars with puerile things like hood scoops, and unfortunately, that’s still the case here. Yet they’ve reigned it in, and it’s quite a bit more subtle than in the past, to Subaru’s credit. Overall, it’s a fairly standard design that won’t attract undue attention from other drivers or the constabulary. It’s for people who like to drive softly and carry a big stick.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Raw. One of the notable things about cars over the last 10 or 15 years is how much more refined they’ve gotten. Even at the lower end of the market. The WRX never got the memo. It’s there to give you silly fast acceleration and slot-car road grip. You want comfort? Get a CrossTrek. You want to relax while driving on the highway? Get an Outback. You want quiet? Stay home, close your windows, and put on your Bose noise canceling headphones. The WRX, for all of its impressive performance, is buzzy and twitchy. It's fun at first. But fatiguing after a short while. You have to be committed to it.
- Clutch. I haven’t experienced a clutch this touchy since we fixed our customer’s old Saab 900s. Those were touchy. Whenever you applied the clutch in a Saab, it asked, “does this rubber pedal make me look fat?” The very sensitive clutch is one of the things that makes the WRX a bit tiring to drive after a while. We imagine this would be particularly true if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving.
- Safety. Good news: Subaru offers an excellent, very complete safety suite they call EyeSight. Bad news: Not only is it not standard on the WRX, but it’s not universally available. Given that this car, by its very character, is going to appeal to people who like to drive a stick shift, it’s kind of appalling that the safety suite is only available on WRXs that have automatic transmissions. So if you’re determined to drive a stick, look elsewhere. We can’t recommend that anyone buy a new car in 2020 without the full suite of electronic safety equipment that is definitely saving lives and fenders: collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic warning. As long as you stay away from the base model WRX, and order your car with an automatic, you can order Subaru’s EyeSight suite, which is very good. They’ve just limited your choices, which is unfortunate, particularly given the character of the WRX.
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