I love the boxer rumble; a sound that is so unique, most petrol heads know exactly what it is before it comes down the road. To the average Joe, it’s a car that sounds like its misfiring.
The new Subaru WRX has been unveiled to us here locally this past week and it had most of us die-hard Subaru fans frothing at the mouth. It comes as no surprise that the outgoing WRX, which has been a 2.5liter for the last couple of years, received a downgrade in size compared to that of the new BRZ and Forester XT, which coincidentally use the same motor FA platform.
The Forester XT, has always been a sibling to the WRX and most believe that it is born from WRX DNA. It’s nice to see it return the favour with it being the donor engine of the new WRX, with the exception of stronger valve springs, which increases its rev capacity to a healthy 6 500 RPM. Maximum power is up to 197kw and 350nm, a 2kw climb up from the previous EJ motor. A new 6 speed gearbox has also been introduced to the manual version and an 8 speed for the Lineartronic CVT. The steering has also been altered to give a much quicker steering response.
From the outside, the WRX has grown up to a more civilized car, yet some hooligan traits are still visible. All new on this car is the aluminium hood with integrated intercooler scoop, which helps with pedestrian safety and round the back, of course, those lovely quad tailpipes can be found.
The interior is a complete step up from previous styling, with alu and carbon inserts all over it. The steering wheel, which is now moulded in a sportier D Shape, is leather wrapped and features most of the on board computer and stereo controls, which was a much needed improvement.
Driving the car, one immediately notices the lack of the authentic Subaru EJ engine. The new one hardly sounds any different to that of an inline four and this is due to the equal exhaust headers on this model, as opposed to the unequal used on the previous car. The turbo comes in nice and early, holding boost comfortably up to the red line and will continue to do so until it simply won’t pull any more. The Lineartronic CVT model is actually a superb gearbox and is extremely responsive in its Sport and Sport Plus modes. The Intelligent mode, which is mostly used for day to day driving, utilises only 6 of the 8 gears found in the previously mentioned modes. Pull away is slightly laggy compared to the manual and, thus, will run 0-100kph in 6.3seconds where the 6 speed does it in 6 seconds flat.
The WRX now features Active Torque Vectoring, which means it would distribute power to the wheels with most traction by braking the wheels which are losing traction, basically improving cornering and overall handling. The suspension has also been completely revised from the previous model; featuring beefier shocks and thicker anti roll bars.
Subaru has upped their game in the safety department and, with result, the WRX has 7 airbags, an NCAP 5 star rating, daylight running lamps, ESC, ABS, EBD, HBA (hydraulic brake assist), TCS, BOS (brake override) and the aforementioned Active Torque Vectoring. The traction control and electronic stability can be switched off for use on the track.
The WRX has grown up and it’s sometimes hard to come to terms with it. It is, by far, a better car than the previous version and I think they will attract a new clientele for this model. I just hope that die-hard WRX fans aren’t pushed away with its new personality.
The WRX is introduced at R449 000 for the 6 speed and R469 000 for the Lineartronic CVT. Pricing includes a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 3 year 75 000km comprehensive maintenance plan.
My pick of the 2 has to go to the Lineartronic CVT.