Now build on that! You’ve heard that the 2009 WRX is “… a whole new animal.” It’s a delight – enough to turn any enthusiast’s head. Put a five-speed manual transmission in the 2.5GT and amplify all sensation – that’s what you have in the WRX.
The preproduction WRX that we drove was a black 4-door, like the 2.5GT. But the 2.5GT could easily melt into a crowd. Not the WRX.
In black, the WRX looks mean. The mesh grille, dark wheels, performance tires, lowered stance, and rear wing all contribute to that perception. These pieces distinguish it from the 2.5GT.
The WRX looks serious. It is serious. I knew that just starting up. The clutch has a heftier feel than the one in my 2.5i. It’s heavier, but not detrimentally so. It doesn’t hurt you when caught in stop-and-go traffic.
Inside, the WRX has some great touches. Different from the 2.5i and 2.5GT, the seats have one-piece seatbacks. The letters WRX are embroidered in red, complemented by red stitching on the seat seams and steering wheel. Although the upholstery is not the same as in the 2.5GT, it, too, allows easy entry and egress. Still, the seats hold snugly with more emphatic bottom and side bolsters.
The lightness of the 2.5GT proves to be an even stronger sensation in the WRX. It feels fleet-footed long before putting down the power. Some of that is aggressive rubber on the road, some is suspension and steering, some is low curb weight, and the rest is 265 horsepower. Altogether, this car will make you smile – day after day after day.
The WRX is extremely livable as a daily driver. Our commute to the track proved that. Cornering will make you ecstatic, yet it’s tractable enough to drive on trails of rock, sand, and dirt. On pavement, there’s no doubt when hitting road bumps. However, as noted in our first encounter with the all-new WRX last year, the car is relatively quiet. (See driving impressions in Winter 2008 Drive.)
Plus, the WRX exhaust note is all Subaru – maybe not enough for some, but audible enough for a Subaru lover to love even more.
For those of us for whom a WRX STI might be unobtainable, the WRX is a possible dream. It may well replace the mid-1980s sports car that I’ve held as my personal benchmark since being involved in test-driving vehicles at that time.
For more about the 2009 Subaru Impreza line, go to www.subaru.com.
Read more about the 2009 Subaru Impreza in Fall 2008 Drive magazine.
See Version 4.3 for WRX STI coverage.
To see more images, click here.