Often tagged as the Rex, Subaru’s WRX is high-performance machine that has been a long-time favourite of Australian drivers since its arrival Downunder in 1994.
The latest model is offered as both sedan and wagon and comes in four grades: base, RS, GT and tS — with two engine/transmission combinations.
Our test car, the GT Sportswagon, is able to handle all conditions, country or city driving, with not only stunning performance but quite good comfort too.
That makes it suited to family transport and as a semi-track machine if you would like to participate in a drive day at your local motor racing facility.
Prices start at $44,990 for the manual sedan or $48,990 for the automatic, rising to $57,990 for the top of the line tS Sportswagon.
Our GT Sportswagon sits one rung from the top and is priced from $55,490 plus on-roads.
WRX is characterised by pumped out guards and trademark air scoop that sits astride the bonnet.
Infotainment is controlled through a portrait-style, 11.6-inch touchscreen that’s easy to see and use.
You can use voice commands to operate the system, but as is too often the way, the message doesn’t always get through correctly.
RS and tS models feature a premium 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound setup, while a six-speaker sound system is fitted to lower cost models.
We certainly enjoyed the quality of sound in our test car.
Airbags cover both rows of occupants and there are Isofix child seat mounts on the outboard rear seats.
Standard features across the complete range include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and a rear-view camera.
For some odd reason, however, manual models don’t get autonomous emergency braking and emergency steering.
We feel this may come in future as Subaru has long had an emphasis on safety.
Service intervals for the latest WRX are now set at 12 months/15,000km — up from six months/12,500km previously.
The engine is a 2.4-litre flat-four ‘boxer’ unit and drives through all four wheels by way of a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
In CVT models a variable torque distribution centre differential has a nominal split of 45:55 with the bias towards the rear wheels.
The split can be altered depending on the drive mode selected, with the sport setting having a rear bias.
The new 2.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine is pretty linear in its delivery and delightful to sit behind.
It’s happy to rev close to redline, but we found the better option was to change gear a couple of hundred revs lower.
It still delivers plenty of punch thanks to a wide spread of torque.
Subaru says WRX will use 9.9L/100km of 95 RON petrol on the combined cycle.
We averaged between 9.0 and 11.0L/100km around town and in the suburbs.
This dropped to 6.0 to 7.0 litres on easy-paced country running.
If you want to have a fang – and of course you do – it’s not too bad at 9.0 to 10.0 litres.
Thanks to the all-wheel drive system, the WRX Sportswagon offers exceptional cornering.
The chassis is nicely balanced and the steering wheel offers good feedback.
The dash features analogue dials with a relatively small driver-display screen.
You can toggle through various driving data as well as route guidance.
The second row is reasonably spacious and comfortable thanks to the increased size of the new model.
But, as is often the way, the back seat is better suited to two rather than three people.
If the driver is very tall and/or likes their seat set well back, then the person behind them might find legroom fairly tight.
The Sportswagon offers 492 litres of cargo space with all seats in use.
This increases to 909 litres with the second-row folded, with a 40:20:40 split possible.
There’s a temporary spare wheel under the boot floor.
With its affordable price and sharp performance, the Subaru WRX has been a favourite of Australian drivers for more than two decades.
This latest version with the practical option of a wagon is unlikely to dampen enthusiasm one little bit.
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