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Reader test: Subaru Impreza WRX

2009-12-01 10:30

Brett Danney

The five-door Subaru WRX has taken a real beating from Subaru purists and the motoring press.

The main issue being that a Subaru should be a sedan and not a hatch, and compared with previous models, the five-door was seen as soft, too refined.

Having never owned a Subaru before, I had no basis for comparison. Granted, I accept that it may not be as brutal as previous models, but it’s still pretty damn impressive. In fact, the refinement is what made me buy this car; I get hot hatch go with luxury and in my book that spells bliss.
The good
This car has an amazing level of grip. It is not something you would really notice until you drive a normal front or back wheel drive car of similar power at which point you realise just how much traction an All Wheel Drive (AWD) car has to offer.

The AWD with centre diff does a brilliant job of keeping the power applied to the wheels that have the most traction. After driving this car in the rain, one does start questioning why all hot hatches are not AWD - it just makes complete sense.

Inside it is very quiet, with little wind or engine noise. The whole car feels solid. The dashboard is top quality and well laid out with all the usual bits and pieces you would expect from a car in this price bracket.

The rear space is on the large side and will seat three adults in comfort. A really nice feature on the car is the hill assist that prevents the car rolling backwards when pulling off on a gradient. The aircon is brilliant, and I mean brilliant. Just as impressive is the sound system.

This has to be one of the most fun cars to drive, it will cruise along or, when provoked, it will fly along. With 100% traction (even with the traction control turned off) 0-100 comes up in a claimed 5.8 seconds, but what is even better than this is opening the window and soaking up the noise from that 2.5-litre boxer motor – out of this world.

The bad
The boot however is tiny - more a token boot than anything else - but the back seats do fold down for additional space.

Performance comes at the price of fuel consumption. On the open road with cruise control at a steady 130 km/h, the best I have seen is 11.9 l/100 km. Around town expect anything from 11 to 19l/100.

Locking the electric windows not only disables the back windows, but the front passenger window too. The doors do not automatically lock and unlock like most European cars, but there is a button mounted on the front driver’s door to do this manually. But, really, I am nit picking.

All in all
I am really enjoying this car, it is a complete pleasure to drive. The ride and comfort is not what one would expect from a performance car. The five-door WRX may be "soft" in the eyes of hardened Subaru fans, but it still has all the characteristics that make a Subaru a Subaru.

If you want a hot hatch with a smooth ride, amazing handling and a lot of go I do not believe there is anything that will come close.

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