What is it?

Wow. After all these years Subaru’s WRX still hits the spot.

I’ve been driving these cars since day one and 20 years later the turbocharged boy racer is definitely showing a new found maturity.

The biggest improvement is evident in the cabin which is now a much nicer place in which to spend time. All the tacky, hard plastics have gone bye-bye, replaced by premium, soft touch, higher quality materials.

In a way the car really needed to evolve in this direction to keep pace with its aging buyers. Most of the time you see a Rex on the road the driver is grey haired. Hell, my accountant is on his third or fourth WRX and he’s no spring chicken.

 

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What’s it cost?

Prices kick off from $39,240 for the entry level sedan with a 6-speed manual. There’s no hatch anymore, but there is a wagon, although they call it the Levorg – but that’s another story.

It’s amazing Subaru has been able to keep a lid on the price for so long, given the fit and finish and levels of equipment fitted. Last updated around the middle of last year the current model has been “heavily revised” both mechanically and cosmetically.

In the go fast department, there’s better brake pads that provide superior fade resistance, with red brake calipers front and back and new dark look 18-inch alloys, fitted with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT.

The suspension has also been revised, with LED fog lights and heated door mirrors added.

The LED powered headlights follow the steering wheel.

The base model, the subject of our test, comes with cloth seats and two zone climate air, along with red-stitched sports seats, push button start, auto lights and wipers (but not rear view mirror), 6.2-inch touchscreen and 6-speaker CD audio.

The manual misses out on the latest advances in safety including Subaru’s version of auto emergency braking called EyeSight.

You’re asked to pay more for them with the Premium model.

There’s also no satnav, no digital radio and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — both glaringly absent. Doesn’t particularly worry me, but it does mean you can’t display Waze or Google Maps on the car’s computer screen.

Subaru says changes for Model Year 2018 are focused on creating an even more engaging interior design and raising quality, with more cohesive interior finish and a greater sense of performance potential.

Interior decorations with liberal use of piano black finish provide a sportier, more elegant feel.

 

 

What’s it go like?

Wayne? If you’re reading this? You’ve gotta come for a spin in this one mate. If you thought the BRZ was cracker, wait until I’ve taken you for a ride in this one mon ami.

I took my old mate Wayne for a ride in the BRZ and scared the crap out of him. BRZ will leave ’em gasping

Wayne’s a tough guy. Once a nightclub bouncer and gang member in his younger days, he’s not someone you want to pick a fight with — I’ve got a chipped tooth to prove it.

Mate. The WRX has got turbocharged engine with 197kW of power and 350Nm of torque, compared with the BRZ’s 152kW/212Nm — basically that means it can do everything the BRZ can and more.

It’s also all-wheel drive, rather than rear wheel drive, with torque vectoring and a limited slip rear diff in the manual to help the car corner flatter and faster. Do you hear that mate — faster?

Sure. The STI gets more power and torque again — 221kW and 407Nm — but trust me you don’t really need it.

That bloody great wing on the back must weight a bit because it’s 72kg heavier and the front spoiler is so low you’re going to have trouble on driveways.

The sports buckets in the STI are also damn uncomfortable, narrow with high sides that make sliding in and out a chore for big blokes.

Bottom line. The WRX is more comfortable and has all the power you need.

In fourth gear, with 4000 revs showing on the dial, it’s feels just about unbeatable charging up a mountain pass.

The dash from 0-100km/h takes 6.0 seconds, but it takes some practice to achieve this.

You’ll notice newcomers to the car grappling with the change.

Short shifting works best. Give it a squirt in first gear, then quick as you can get into second. Another squirt will take you to third and into the sweet zone.

Fourth gear is probably the place you’ll spend time, working the car from corner to corner, only needing to change down for really tight bends.

A CVT auto is available for an extra three grand and it is probably the best CVT we’ve driven, but the 6-speed manual falls so easily to hand and is so easy to use — why would you bother?

There’s no turbo lag in this car and the delivery of power is smooth and very linear, instead of coming in with a bang.

The seating position is higher than BRZ and that makes the car easier to get in and out of, with manual height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

There’s not a lot of audible feedback inside the car, but those outside seem to hear it coming.

Rated at 9.2L/100km we were getting 9.6L/100km after 400km.

 

 

What we like?

  • It’s a WRX
  • High quality finish
  • Comfy seats
  • Small stylish rear spoiler

 

What we don’t?

  • No satnav in base model
  • Dash too busy with three competing information screens
  • No EyeSight – Subaru’s auto braking system (only with auto)
  • Phone slow to reconnect (doesn’t connect at all after swapping phones)
  • Measly 3 Year/Unlimited kilometre warranty

 

The bottom line?

At less than $40K the WRX is still the best bang for your buck going.

 

CHECKOUT: BRZ will leave ’em gasping

CHECKOUT: Subaru Levorg: weird name, much to love

 

 

  • Looks - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Performance - 8.0/10
    8/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.0/10
    7/10
  • Practicality - 7.0/10
    7/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Tech - 8.0/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8.0/10
    8/10
7.6/10
Hey Wayne? Wanna come for a fang in a WRX?

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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