Monday, January 25

Subaru Rally-Inspired WRX a Champ on the Street

CHATHAM, Mass. – The Subaru WRX is a performance car; a performance car inspired by the World Rally Championship- (WRC) dominating Subaru racers and produced for the street since 1992 for the world’s automotive enthusiasts.

The original WRX was a variant of the subcompact Impreza range, featuring the Subaru trademark all-wheel drive (AWD) setup, stiffened suspension and turbocharged engine. For the 2015 model year, though still based on the four-door Impreza sedan platform, the WRX/WRX STI was spun off as a separate model.

I just finished a week in an example of the most recent version of this steroid-infused Subaru, a limited-edition 2020 WRX Premium Series.White with six-speed manual transmission and the optional performance package – further enhanced in this limited-edition model – which puts an even finer edge on the car’s sporting abilities.

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A solid platform on which to base a sporting model

Subaru’s engineers attacked the international, as well as the U.S. rally scene, because they knew their vehicles were up to the task and it would show the world just how tough they were as well. And the brand’s success – winning almost 25 percent of the WRC races in which it entered and earning six world championships – proved them right!

All Subaru vehicles sold in the U.S., like the rally cars, are based upon a robust four-wheel independently suspended chassis, boxer (horizontally opposed cylinders) engine and AWD.

All WRX models feature stiffened, sport-tuned reinforced suspension comprised of inverted MacPherson-type struts, aluminum lower L-arms with pillow-ball mounts and bushings, coil springs and stabilizer bar in the front. The rear setup is a double wishbone with subframe, pillow-ball bushings for lower lateral links, coil springs and stabilizer bar.

The Series.White sharpens the WRX’s capabilities with additional high-performance equipment. The sport-tuned suspension, for example, gets Bilstein shock absorbers added to the mix.

Brembo-based braking system helps keep the WRX’s turbo motor under control

Also part of the Series.White package is a four-wheel disc-brake system featuring Brembo components including (in the front) 12.8-inch ventilated rotors with four-position, fixed-position calipers, while in the rear 12.4-inch ventilated rotors with dual-piston, fixed-position calipers complete the picture. The calipers, naturally, are Brembo red!

The system incorporates electronic brake-force distribution and four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock (ABS) with brake assist and brake override.

A key factor in the suspension and braking-systems’ superb functionality rests on the rubber “shoulders” of the 245/40R18 97W summer performance tires mounted on 18 x 8.5-inch aluminum alloy wheels in matte bronze finish.

The sum of these pieces adds up to a vehicle with which you can attack any road with great confidence; the WRX Series.White will go where you want it to go regardless of the road’s twists and turns, and then stop IMMEDIATELY when you want it to that!

The drivetrain is a big part of the driving dynamics providing more power than New England roads need (again, the wonderful chassis, brakes, tires and wheels do their jobs to help keep you out of trouble).

The turbocharged and intercooled two-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine pumps out 268 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque, which the driver helps translate into motoring happiness through manual manipulation of the slick-shifting six-speed gearbox (other WRX versions can be had with a Sport Lineartronic™ CVT features SI-DRIVE performance management with 6-speed and 8-speed manual shifting modes and steering wheel paddle shift switches, but rowing the manual is a BIG part of the WRX Series.White experience – and a lot of fun!).

I probably drove the WRX Series.White a bit harder than previous test cars simply because everything about it, from the drilled aluminum pedals to the Ultrasuede-covered Recaro sport seats (another Series.White feature) to the functional hood scoop, shouted “let’s go!”

I never considered fuel economy while driving the Subaru – I was having too much fun – and was very pleasantly surprised – almost shocked – when after several hundred miles of spirited driving I discovered I was getting a shade over 30 miles for each gallon of 91-octane gasoline. The surprise was because the WRX Premium Series.White with manual transmission is rated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency at 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving (21 city, 27 highway).

A cabin fit for driving in a packaged priced right

The Subaru WRX Series.White’s interior shuns excess, adding just the right amenities to showcase the car’s dynamic qualities and provide driver and passenger with modern conveniences and comfort.

Those Recaro seats with Ultrasuede inserts keep driver and passenger firmly planted during spirited driving as well as, thanks to the built-in heat, warm when the weather turns cold. Power adjustment for it combined with the tilt/telescoping steering wheel means the driver can readily find the perfect driving position.

Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, automatic climate control, Incline Start Assist, 5.9-in multi-function LCD for driver information, Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control, aluminum alloy pedal covers (including driver’s foot rest), dual USB ports, rear vision camera and power door locks, side mirrors and windows.

A seven-inch color touch display provides the main controls for the infotainment system featuring AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/streaming audio/CD player as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Steering wheel buttons also can control these features as well as triggering the voice activation system.

These features, along with all this driving fun comes at a competitive $35,259 (including $900 destination fee), not a lot of money for all this performance (and fun). The range starts at $27,495 for the WRX; the Premium version starts at $29,795 and a more fully equipped Limited is $32.095.

[The even more performance-oriented WRX STI model incorporates a 310 hp/290 lbs-ft. turbo engine along with stouter other components. The STI model carries a base sticker of $36,995.]

There are very few competitors offering the mix of performance, comfort and reliability on the market, none with the rally creds of the Subaru WRX Series.White.

Next week TBR Drives the Lincoln Navigator.

About Author

Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Senior Editor for The BRAKE Report. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.