It may not look the part but Subaru’s all-new WRX is deceivingly fast. And that power comes on buttery smooth even. However, its rather sedate exterior could easily fool you, and if you’re a current or past WRX enthusiast, you may have already written it off on looks alone. But don’t judge this book by its cover. Instead, go for a ride, like I did and prepare for one hell of a refined, but wicked ride. Subaru’s engineers claim that it’s all about pure power and precision, something you’ll come to know as being fun to drive in all types of driving conditions.
So, what’s new about this WRX? Plenty. First, the entire suspension has been completely redesigned to be much stiffer than the previous generations, as handling is one of the core focuses of this car. The stiffness is noticeable but hardly a gripe if you’re accustomed to the butt clenching firmness an aftermarket coilover suspension provides, so don’t sweat it. They’ve increased the turn-in on the WRX, which is now even greater than the BRZ, and its lateral Gs are similar to that of a 911 Carrera S or Mitsubishi Evo. The best (and easiest) way to describe how the car feels compared to WRXs past is that there’s a refinement about it that doesn’t sacrifice the performance you come to expect from a car with that name. You know that “roughness” the older cars have, either while idling or putting around normally? There’s none of that in this car, and yet it still has a raw driving feel. Thought it’s fightin’ words to mention Evo in the same breath as WRX, another way to describe this more mature driving experience would be like explaining the difference from the Evo 9 and X; if you know that difference, then you’ll be able to understand this improved driving feel.
But more on the engine: While this car does come equipped with a turbocharged variant of the FA20 – yes, the same FA20 that comes in the BRZ – don’t mistake this as being simply that, a “turbocharged version of the BRZ engine”. It’s actually more similar to the Forester’s powerplant, and this 2.0L DIT comes with a bottom-mounted turbo that delivers a very proper 268hp and 258lb-ft. There are two drivetrain options: a 6-speed manual that’s every bit of fun to shift through as you can image, and new (simply for mass appeal) is the addition of an automatic, which comes with three driving modes: Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp. Of the three, Sport Sharp delivers the sportiest feel and most favorable gearing, which of course can be operated in full chimp mode for the longer hauls or via the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel when you wanna get canyon cray. Though it’s a CVT, it hardly drives like your average CVTs that tend to be total shit; again, something you can only experience by driving it first hand. There’s a new center-positioned, color Multi Function Display that shows various vehicle monitoring systems, most notably a first for the WRX, a boost gauge.
What about room for improvement? Well, that remains to be seen, but Subaru knows that beyond their standard realm of consumers who tend to enjoy the car for what it is (stock), they know WRX can also extend its shelf life thanks to the aftermarket and people like us who like to make them faster, handle better…you know the deal, and that means you’re more than likely to see performance parts a plenty, especially now that there’s a turbocharged FA20 to deal with. And don’t forget: there’s an upcoming STI that’s has yet to be revealed, and even that model could open up new possibilities in the realm of modification. Note to all you wheel whores out there: the bolt pattern is now 5x114.3 instead of 5x100, and that means tons more options for wheels.
Engine: 4-cylinder, horizontally opposed (BOXER), turbocharged/intercooled, aluminum cylinder block and heads
Bore x Stroke: 86 mm x 86 mm
Compression ratio: 10.6:1
Horsepower: 268@5,600 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @2,000-5,200 rpm
Valvetrain: Double overhead chain-driven camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder, Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System (AVCS) variable valve timing on intake and exhaust valves
Fuel / Induction: Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), Electronic Throttle Control (ETC), twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler
Standard: 6-speed manual
Optional: Sport Lineartronic™ features SI-DRIVE performance management with 6-speed and 8-speed manual shifting modes and steering wheel paddle shift switches
Continuous All-Wheel Drive with viscous-coupling locking center differential and nominal 50:50 torque split; transfers more torque to wheels with best traction
Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) with planetary gear-type center differential and an electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch, 45:55 nominal torque split; transfers more torque to wheels with best traction
Stability/TC: Vehicle Dynamics Control with all-wheel, all-speed traction control and Active Torque Vectoring
Chassis: Unitized body construction, Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame safety structure
Suspension: 4-wheel independent; sport-tuned plus special chassis reinforcements
Front: MacPherson-type struts, aluminum lower L-arms with pillow ball mounts and bushings, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Rear: Double wishbone with subframe, pillow ball bushings for lower lateral links, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Brakes: Power-assisted 4-wheel disc with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and 4-channel / 4-sensor ABS, Brake Assist and Brake Override
Front:12.4-inch ventilated discs dual-piston calipers
Rear:11.3-inch solid discs, single-piston calipers
Steering: Rack-and-pinion with electric power assist
Wheels Standard: 17 x 8J aluminum alloy
Tires: 235/45 R17 94W Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT
WRX with 6-speed manual transmission: 3,267
WRX Premium with Sport Lineartronic: 3,433
Estimated fuel economy
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal.
6-sp. manual: 21/28/24 Sport Lineartronic: 19/25/21