Subaru has unveiled the fifth generation of its hugely popular WRX – a car synonymous with rally and rallycross competition around the world.
The latest model retains key elements of the proven formula, but is infused with a host of improvements across the board.
At the heart of the car remains a turbocharged boxer engine, a new iteration of the famed unit that is up from 2.0-liters in the old WRX (discounting the 2.5 STI performance model) to 2.4 liters.
Power output hits 271 bhp with torque at 258 lbft, the peak of which is delivered between 2000rpm and 5200rpm. An electronic wastegate and air bypass valve improve responsiveness and reduce that dreaded turbo-lag too.
The new powerplant is mated to a six-speed manual as standard. An all-new eight-speed auto option is available though, dubbed ‘Subaru performance transmission’. With that upshifts are said to be as much as 30% faster and downshifts 50% quicker.
It also incorporates adaptive shift control that rev matches for the perfect performance through braking and cornering. The automatic can however be manually operated via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Naturally, the transmission sends the power to all four wheels through Subaru’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive system with active torque vectoring, a mainstay on the car since its introduction in the early 1990s.
New for this latest model is a range-topping GT trim level. The GT comes with the automatic as standard, and also features new electronically adjustable dampers in what is a first for the WRX.
There are three presets available – comfort, normal and sport – while steering feel and damper settings are also adjustable, with 430 different combinations available to the driver.
The chassis has also been improved. Now riding on Subaru’s ‘global platform’ (the backbone to all of its new models besides the BRZ sports car that it co-developed with Toyota), the new WRX enjoys a marked improvement on ride quality and handling thanks to the increased rigidity and lower center of gravity.
In fact, there’s a 28% increase in torsional rigidity overall, with a 75% increase in suspension mounting point rigidity.
And on the subject of suspension, the whole set-up has been tuned with track driving in mind, and there’s now a longer suspension stroke with a new body-mounted rear stabilizer bar to decrease body roll and further improve handling.
Externally the car’s styling represents a clear evolution of the previous generation, with the rear of the car also bearing more than a passing resemblance to the recently-introduced second generation BRZ.
The company’s uniform hexagonal grille remains, albeit a touch bigger, while the trademark hood scoop remains in place. The bodywork, some of which is now aluminum to help reduce overall weight, is dominated by aggressive lines and a host of air inlets to not only aid aerodynamic performance but cooling as well.
Inside, the cockpit is driver focused, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel with integrated switchgear, and a 11.6-inch touchscreen display with Subaru’s Starlink multimedia system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Opt for the high-end ‘multimedia plus’ or ‘multimedia plus with navigation’ options and there’s even the ability to split the cockpit display to show two different sets of information.
Black trim with contrasting red stitching and a smattering of carbon fiber further outlines the car’s sporty feel, while Recaro seats offer increased support for those who go for the GT model. The GT also includes eye-sight driver assist technology, advanced adaptive cruise control and new automatic emergency steering as standard, as well as exclusive 18-inch matte gray rims.
The new Subaru WRX hits showrooms in the US early next year, but those in the UK will have to admire it from afar as there are no plans at present to reintroduce the model there.
Expect an even hotter STI version to follow in the near future, too.