There are few “super sport” sedans that begin at $25k. There are even fewer that come with all-wheel drive and a turbo-charger. In fact, the number of these cars is just one. Subaru continues to step up its game with faster and more exciting versions of their Impreza platform with a new WRX model, and once again, in a four-door sedan.
The five-door hatchback is still more functional for all-around daily living, but the sedan proved to be very useful for my family. We can attest to the quick and stable new widened platform shared by the hyper WRX STI. Now this Subaru rally-car comes in two WRX model formats and both are exciting to drive.
To begin, the 2011 Impreza WRX has a wider front and rear track by approximately 1.5 inches. This not only gives the car more stability in the corners but also allows more travel in the double-wishbone suspension without giving up its sporty steering.
Engineers have also paid attention to the bushings in the front and stiffer bushings in the rear sub-frame. Compared to other performance sedans, the forgiveness in the WRX suspension is welcome on a daily commute. The new larger and wider (17 x 8-in) wheels and tires (235/45R17) are also a part of the new feel of confidence while giving a little extra cushion on the road.
Don’t get me wrong, this WRX is even more about performance! With lowered coil springs, a 21 mm front stabilizer bar, and a 16 mm bar in the rear, and a huge lower arm, cornering is as good as cars four times the price.
The interior of our base WRX is all about driving with seats that hug the body and aluminum pedals that grip the feet. Road noise is as prominent as the road feedback through the steering wheel but the throaty exhaust noise is wonderfully.
There is a new audio system with single-disc CD player and six speakers. However, setting the volume up where you can hear it just rattles the doors. Yes, there is a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack and iPod control capability and XM/Sirius Satellite Radio, and steering wheel audio controls included, but those things just get in the way of shifting the standard 5-speed transmission and hitting the gas.
Buyers can load up the WRX with leather upholstery (WRX Limited) and navigation and a moonroof, but this is a driver’s sedan/hatch that keeps the entertainment out the front windshield. The large operating hood scoop is not to impress your neighbors. It is forcing air through the intercooler of the WRX 2.5 liter turbocharged boxer engine.
With 265 horsepower and 244 foot-pounds of torque available just past 2,500 rpm, the red stitching in the seats and door inserts is not that important. Even the new large and vibrant tachometer and instrument readout is only impressive for a moment when stopped at a red light because my thoughts were more focused on what happens when the light turns green.
Just so readers don’t get the wrong idea; this 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX is still a compact sedan with a normal rear seat that holds three extra people. It also has a trunk that holds four medium suitcases, although it has a sloped floor to accommodate the rear differential, larger suspension, and quad-exhaust system. It comes with automatic climate control, cruise control, and auto power windows/door locks/mirrors.
The WRX is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway and I averaged 22.2 mpg after 800 miles of exuberant driving. Yet, the story of the WRX (non-STI) model is told from the seat of your pants.
Base price on the 2011 Impreza WRX starts at $25,495 for either the sedan or the 5-door hatchback. This price includes continuous AWD with viscous coupling locking center differential, Incline Start Assist (holds the car on uphill starts), 4-wheel disc ABS brakes, computer-controlled braking systems, six airbags, and enough traction control systems to almost frustrate an enthusiast’s love for tire squealing. WRX Premium ($27,995) adds the All-Weather Package with heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer that I could have used last week. It also comes with a reasonable trunk spoiler on the 4-door sedan that is more tasteful than the STI wing.
The Limited ($28,955) adds HID headlights, leather-trimmed upholstery, and a power moonroof but who really needs all that? The 2011 Subaru WRX is as much fun to drive as the STI (if you value your kidneys), quicker than lightning, and corners on rails without the harsh road thrashing of most pocket rockets of old.