The car looks great; my black-on-black test unit looked quite toned down from the previous three generations. It features a tiny boot spoiler, relatively small 17-inch alloy wheels, four tail pipes and a slightly understated rear diffuser. You still get a bonnet scoop and side skirts but that’s about as crazy as it gets. Leave the shouting to the STI variant I say.
Inside, the new cabin is typically ‘new Subaru’ with everything laid out in as simple a manner as possible. Now you get black leather seats with red stitching accents, a flat-bottomed steering wheel (all the rage in the automotive world at the moment) and a touch-screen infotainment system. This system is so much better than in the older Subarus. For one, I could easily connect to the Bluetooth (a pain in older models).
There are also more attractive dials along with two colour display screens, one of which can be used to measure range, fuel economy, power distribution or solely as a boost gauge, that’s an extra 10-man points right there. The seats look good and provide ample lateral grip too.
The most surprising thing about this WRX for me though, is how it’s matured. The old cars were great but they were one-trick-ponies, whereas this car is practical with a massive cabin and a 460-litre boot while maintaining the Scooby-esque charm that you expect.
When it comes to performance it wouldn’t be a Subaru if it was found lacking and the new 2.0-litre direct injection turbo engine doesn’t disappoint. Ask a performance Subaru owner what the problem with their car is and they will say, fuel consumption - the old models were very heavy on fuel. The new engine is far more efficient with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 9.2 litres/100km.
With 197kW/350Nm on tap this is a fast car. The all-wheel-drive traction makes progress even swifter with superb traction. Claimed figures are a 0-100km/h time of 6.0 seconds and a top end of 240 km/h.
Many all-wheel-drive cars suffer from understeer and while it’s the safer way of going about things it can become frustrating when the car isn’t as keen as you are to take the approaching bend. I didn’t experience this in the new WRX. Subaru claim they’ve made the turn-in response better by minimising what they call the ‘zone of low steering response’ by tuning the steering feel and response. The result is a car that feels agile and on turn-in there’s far more knowledge of where the front wheels are and what they’re doing.
Aiding this new sharpened dynamic verve is a centre differential and viscous limited slip differential which help in the tighter corners where the all-wheel-drive system tends to push the car wide. There’s also Active Torque Vectoring (ATV) which applies the brakes to the inside front wheel while distributing torque to the outside front wheel. As an overall package the new WRX is very tempting indeed. While its performance may only be slightly better than the older model, the added practicality in the form of the spacious cabin, boot and improvements to its efficiency make this a very usable performance car.