Boys who were of the PlayStation generation (Read: 90’s) are bound to know the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The rivalry came to an abrupt end when Mitsubishi axed the venerable Evolution X. Subaru, on the other hand, soldiered on with the WRX STI. Subaru has dropped the Impreza nameplate for its performance sedan, relying on just calling it the WRX and WRX STI. These days, however, the Subaru WRX sees competition not just from the Japanese’s side, but also from the European companies. Audi has the A3 sedan, which on paper, is very similar to the Subaru WRX. Both sports a turbocharged engine mated to an automatic gearbox with power being transferred to all 4 wheels via their respective 4 wheel drive system.
Upon laying your eyes on the Subaru WRX, you’ll be drawn to its hood scoop. Like all previous Subaru WRX models, the new WRX features a top mounted intercooler. Right under the hood lies Subaru’s new FA20F engine, that is also shared with the Forester XT. Besides that, the styling of the front end may not be everyone’s cup of tea, with some boldly claiming that it looks much like its main competitor (read: Mitsubishi). That aside, the WRX looks really good in person, with the aggressive front end lending a hand to its performance. Unlike the WRX STI however, the rear end of the WRX is adorned by a single rear lip spoiler (the STI has a massive rear spoiler). As it is, the Subaru WRX still draws the attention of whoever you pass by.
Settling into the cockpit of the WRX, it occurred to me that the seats were awfully hard, borderline uncomfortable. Maybe the seats are still new (car has barely 4,200 km on the clock), or maybe I’m just too light. But, they do offer excellent support, especially when you chuck the mighty WRX into corners. What irked me was the faux carbon-fibre pattern on the dashboard, which frankly, looks cheap.
Despite the cheap looking dashboard, the rest of the layout, is thankfully laid out in an easy to reach manner, with no head-scratching how-do-I-release-the-parking-brake dilemma. The leather wrapped steering feels nice to hold, and feels even better when in use. Unlike many other electronic power steering systems, the one found on the WRX has a nice weight to it, giving the driver an even more confidence while driving. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system in the Subaru does an excellent job of maintaining power flow to all four wheels.
As mentioned earlier, the Subaru WRX is powered by a turbocharged flat-4 engine capable of 264 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and a grand total of 350 Nm of twisting power from 2,400 rpm. What this means is that the Subaru WRX is capable of accelerating at the slightest touch of the accelerator, with the steady flow of torque that just keeps coming. Engine note however, is very un-Subaru, as it just lacks the signature boxer growl that we’ve grown accustomed to (perhaps a quick exhaust swap to get this sound?)
While the Subaru WRX STI gets a driver-oriented six-speed manual transmission, the non-STI WRX sports a Lineartronic CVT gearbox. The gearbox does a fine job of mimicking an 8-speed automatic transmission. Despite that, the choice of using a CVT gearbox on the WRX meant that the WRX lacks driver involvement. On the road, gunning the throttle on the WRX does not exhibit the dreaded rubber-band effect, and while paddle shifting may be quicker than rowing your own gears, it just disconnects the driver from the car. Paddle shifters may be the future, but for a manual loving guy I am, I will soldier on with a manual gearbox while I can. The Lineartronic CVT, in my opinion, does not do the WRX justice as a car on this scale should be offered with a manual transmission (perhaps we’ll be reviewing the WRX STI in near future?). Despite that, the Lineartronic CVT is one of the finest continuously variable transmissions that I have driven thus far.
But let’s not forget that the Subaru WRX is a 4-door sedan with a boot. It can and will ferry the family with speed and safety. Buyers who put their money down for a WRX probably have a manual car in their garage. Besides, Motor Image does offer a manual Subaru WRX STI if the family man really needs the manual transmission. Boot space is rated at 460-litres, and if you’ve noticed, the floor of the boot sits quite high up. This is mainly due to the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system that lurks under the body. Thankfully the rear seats do fold down if the need to carry something big arise.
As for the drive, the Subaru WRX does not disappoint. With almost 270 horses on tap coupled with 350 Nm of twisting power, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you can feast on most cars on the road. Upon flooring the throttle, the sound of the turbo spooling and the faint boxer sound will fill your ears, while you will be pushed back into the seats. It is nothing short of addictive. But that is about it. Paddle shifters are there for the sake of convenience, and (to me at least) keeps the driver involvement to a bare minimum. There’s just something to be said about shifting your own gears, pressing the clutch and depressing the accelerator.
On the highway, wind noises are well isolated from the cabin, but tyre noise can get rather intrusive. Not a big deal, considering that the sound system in the WRX is capable of cancelling out unwanted road noises. The amount of grip is phenomenal on the WRX, as no matter how hard I tried, the traction just won’t break. The Subaru WRX provides a very confidence-inspiring drive, as the car stays very planted, even at triple digit speeds. Steering remains nicely weighted through highway cruising. The long sweeping corners of the Karak Highway are dealt with relative ease, with body roll kept to a bare minimum. That being said, however, on less-than-perfect roads, the Subaru WRX does get rather bumpy, but not the extend of feeling trashy. The whole Subaru WRX gives the impression that everything is well constructed and feels very solid.
For a price of RM230k, the Subaru WRX faces stiff competition, not from the Japanese, but from the Europeans. As mentioned earlier, the Audi A3 1.8 TFSI is priced very close to the Subaru WRX. Despite that, the Subaru has the advantage in terms of power (264 hp vs 180 hp), warranty (5-year warranty vs 2-year warranty) and handling. In the end, the Subaru WRX caters to the enthusiasts, those who really look at a car as more than just a mode of transport, with the added Japanese reliability.
In Detail: Subaru WRX
Price: RM230,979.00 (OTR with insurance)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-4 FA20F
Horsepower: 264 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 350 Nm @ 2,400 rpm
Transmission: Lineartronic CVT with paddle shifters
Top Speed: 240 km/h
0-100 km/h: 6.3 seconds
Enjoy our photo gallery below.
Exterior Shots at Night
Exterior & Interior Shots at Daytime
Rolling Shots (Image credit to my friend, Ken Ng)