MY new year began with a test. The car I was testing was the all-new Subaru WRX. The new WRX has made a very big leap from the previous model.
I always felt that the WRX was closer to the standard Impreza than to the premium STI that I would rather have any older STI over the previous WRX.
This new one is different as it is much closer to the STI than the standard Impreza. In fact this new WRX is better than the previous STI.
What makes the WRX and all the other Subaru cars so good is the philosophy behind Subaru, which is symmetry. They have always stayed with the horizontally opposed boxer engine coupled to an all-wheel drive transmission that is a longitudinal single unit. This layout gives the car good balance and a low center of gravity with the engine and transmission mounted in the center of the car, hence, the symmetry. They are the only major car manufacturer that uses the aforesaid layout.
The WRX has an all-new 2.0 liter direct injection turbocharged engine producing 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. I don’t think there is any other compact sedan in the Philippine market that has those numbers and costs under P2 million. Talk about horsepower value-for-money. More astonishing is that this engine is economical. I have this road-trip route to Balamban where I consume three-fourths of a full tank on a round trip. With the WRX I consumed less than a half tank that I was able to do the same route twice without refueling.
The unit that I tested had an 8-speed CVT automatic transmission. Usually, automatics take the fun out of driving especially on the twisties in mountain roads, this one does not. On sports sharp mode, the automatic is intelligent enough to be at the correct gear all the time that once you step on the gas pedal exiting a corner, the car pulls and pulls hard. In normal city driving the transmission is so smooth that you do not even feel it shift gears.
The best thing about the new WRX is the handling. This car handles better than any car that I have tested and reviewed. On the top of my head, I cannot think of a better handling car in its class and price range in stock form. In fact, it handles better than the previous STI. The steering is so direct, with no under-steer and no over-steer, too! The car has so much grip it is unbelievable. One has to try driving it to understand what I mean. The car handled so well that, as I mentioned earlier, I drove the Balamban route twice. But having great handling has a downside. The WRX’s ride is on the stiff side. But it’s one comfort that I am willing to sacrifice to have that kind of handling.
Apart from being a great driving car, the WRX is an all-rounder as it has a nice good cabin with leather seats. The car also looks good from the outside and would certainly not be out of place if used in formal functions. There is so much cabin space inside that you get surprised as to how the Subaru engineers got to make this car handle so well.
I’m pretty certain that the all-new STI will even be better.
Price, horsepower, handling, performance – the WRX has it all. This is my car of the year by a long margin.