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Driving Impressions:
Subaru Performance Tuning –
Enhancing the Journey


  • STI Lip Spoiler WRX
  • STI Aluminum & Leather Shift Knob-5MT
  • STI Short-Throw Shifter-5MT – reduces shift throw length for crisper shifts
  • STI Shifter Bushing – improves shifting precision
  • SPT Strut Tower Bar-Front – high-strength aluminum bar that increases chassis stability by providing additional stiffness to the front upper suspension
  • SPT Lower Chassis Brace – high-strength aluminum construction increases chassis rigidity by connecting the subframe to the engine crossmember
  • SPT 4-Door Cat-Back Exhaust System – full stainless-steel construction with smooth mandrel bands for low restriction, optimized tubing diameters, and polished exhaust tips etched with the SPT logo

2009 Impreza WRX

The WRX was a silver 4-door. From spending the last 13 months in an Impreza 2.5i 5-door, I was accustomed to the layout of most interior features and controls. The WRX 4-door has a rear wing on the trunk lid, which required some familiarization. And it had a navigation system that helped me find my way.


I followed freeways to reach Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2), approaching from the south. Angeles Crest is a twisting two-lane road cut into the mountainsides and winding to above 6,000 feet … before it's closed. A local resident told me it's been blocked between Islip Saddle and Vincent Gap for a long time, and I've read since that it's closed indefinitely "… because of several washouts."


The WRX feels more athletic – almost lighter – than the 2.5i, but that's mostly due to throttle response. Select the right gear in any type of driving situation, and it's ready to go. Fast, if you want! There's little noticeable turbo lag.


The front end seems more rigid than that of the 2.5i. That feeling comes from the differences between tires and spring/shock rates, all enhanced by the SPT strut tower and lower chassis braces on this particular car.


The STI short-throw shifter with STI bushing proved perceptibly quicker to shift gear to gear. I noticed the differences in shifters most when reaching for first, third, and fifth gears because the shift knob seemed closer to me.


Another SPT part – the STI knob itself – proved comfortable. Years of manually shifting vehicles has made a ball-shaped knob personally preferable.


The most prominent contribution from SPT was the performance exhaust system. It provides constant feedback on what the engine is doing. The sonorous note that only a Subaru engine can make drew fans to the car when I'd stop during the journey. Their comments were always positive. It seemed louder than the system on the STI the next day. That might be because of the different exhaust configurations: two rear mufflers on the 4-door and one on the 5-door.


At one stop to check directions, a woman who heard and saw the WRX brought an STI owner out of the next-door building "… to hear the Subaru." The sound is infectious.


Angeles Crest is one of the top roads I've ever driven. The WRX was more than equal to the constant turning and gear changes throughout the drive, with its hard, blind corners; a couple of tunnels (which really brought out the sound of the exhaust system!); fallen rocks on the roadway; and signs cautioning about the presence of large, wild animals.


The scenery was stunning, with stepped mountain ranges separated by various densities of cloud cover and fog. At one point, the road was above the clouds covering a valley below, while mountain tops were visible above. Photos don't begin to tell the story. You have to drive this road, and be sure to take the side road to Mount Wilson!

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