The highly anticipated all-new Subaru WRX has made its first official public appearance at the Los Angeles auto show.
The fourth-generation WRX becomes the first to fully break away from the compact Impreza to become a standalone model, and debuts a new high-performance 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, a self-shifting transmission, individual styling and a host of new technologies.
The new Subaru WRX will go on sale in Australia – the third-biggest WRX market globally after Japan and the US – in March, with 2014 marking 20 years since the launch of the original WRX in 1994. The as-yet-unseen WRX STI will follow around two months later.
The new model will be offered exclusively as a sedan – the five-door hatchback style accounted for less than one-fifth of previous-generation WRX sales in Australia – and is tipped to start slightly above the old model’s $39,990 entry price.
The 2014 Subaru WRX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine that produces 199kW of power at 5600rpm and 349Nm of torque between 2000-5200rpm – giving it a modest 4kW/6Nm advantage over its predecessor’s 2.5-litre unit.
While Subaru is yet to release performance claims, it guarantees the new model will undercut the old model’s 5.3-second 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark, as well as deliver big efficiency gains over its 8.1 litres per 100km combined cycle claim.
The standard manual transmission gains an extra gear over its successor, taking the ratio count to six, while for the first time the Subaru WRX will also be available with the option of an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Subaru claims the WRX’s ‘Sport Lineartronic CVT’ provides improved shift response and sportier performance than other CVTs. Drivers can also shift between eight ‘gears’ by selecting ‘Sport#’ mode in ‘SI-Drive’.
At 4595mm long, 1795mm wide, 1475mm tall and riding on a 2650mm wheelbase, the new Subaru WRX is just 15mm longer than the old model and 25mm longer between the wheels.
Subaru says the new WRX’s stiffer body and suspension, combined with the addition of multi-mode electronic stability control and active torque vectoring, contribute to a more capable, predictable and comfortable dynamic package.
The electric steering system has been tuned to deliver a more direct and quicker response, while Subaru’s trademark ‘symmetrical all-wheel-drive’ system continues to underpin the new-generation WRX.
While more conservatively styled than the Subaru WRX concept that appeared at March’s New York motor show, the production model flexes it muscle with a gaping bonnet intake, broad front and rear wheel arches, black alloy wheels and a large rear diffuser with quad exhaust outlets.
Subaru claims the WRX’s expanded length and wheelbase increase both cargo space and legroom for rear-seat passengers, while the use of high-quality materials promises to boost cabin comfort.
A flat-bottom steering wheel debuts in the new model along with a reversing camera and a premium Harman Kardon audio system.
Push-button start is available as part of a more high-tech cabin that also features a large central display screen and smaller multi-function display with boost pressure readout.
Carbonfibre-look trim panels and red contrast stitching emphasise the new model’s sporty character.
Subaru will release detailed specification and pricing information closer to the local launch of the all-new WRX in March.