2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan First Steer
Subaru says it’s sharpened the claws of its iconic ‘Rex’ with the launch of the MY2009 Impreza WRX sedan, and while the figures are certainly impressive, does it have the bite to take on its newly created rival the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart?
The full assessment of that question will have to wait until we can fully test the two cars back-to-back but the initial impressions are that while the latest WRX, at least in sedan form because that’s all we’ve driven, has a sharper feel and is certainly quicker than the MY2008 model it just doesn’t seem to have the sharp edge of the Lancer Ralliart.
There’s little doubt that at this point the arguments will begin but it needs to be said immediately that this latest iteration of the WRX is, in some respects a very definite attempt by Subaru Australia to get the car back to something closer to the WRX of old, and an acknowledgement by Subaru that it may have gone too far in softening the car with the release of the all-new Impreza range last year.
If you doubt that then in Subaru’s own words it has “put the boot in for Model Year 2009, adding power, torque and a raft of other aggressive ingredients.”
The newly released sedan variants, available in WRX and RS, although we have only driven the WRX version, share the same turbocharged technical advances.
The 2.5-litre turbocharged engine now produces 195 Kilowatts of power at 6000rpm and 343 Newtonmetres of torque at 4000rpm.
While Impreza WRX is meaner, it’s also greener - lower fuel consumption and emissions result from the engineering refinement.
Fuel consumption is improved in the combined cycle from 10.7L/100km to 10.4L/100km, while carbon-dioxide emissions are down from 252g/km to 247g/km.
There’s also numerous other changes to the ride and handling of the latest WRX that are designed to give it a sharper feel and more responsive handling.
Let’s deal with the engine improvements first and there is no doubt that the more powerful WRX is a faster accelerating car, Subaru has gone to considerable effort to produce figures showing just how much quicker it is over its own 2008 car.
Driving on country roads in north-central Victoria we could tell the car was quicker but interestingly it doesn’t feel all that much quicker!
We also drove the car for a couple of laps around Winton RaceWay (photos coming) and while this gave us the opportunity to legally wind the WRX up to its maximum performance potential it didn't provide much other information.
We did also drive a 2008 car around the track for one lap and while there is a difference the degrees of difference are pretty subtle and would only be obvious to someone like Asia Pacific Rally Champion Cody Crocker, who was on hand, or a Subaru enthusiast who had spent a lot of time with both cars on a race track.
There’s also noticeably more punch when coming out of corners as a result of the added torque but again its small degrees.
As for the handling and ride improvements, well the car does feel a lot tighter than the previous car, but a number of journalists on the press launch were heard grumbling about how soft the car was – turned out they hadn’t driven the 2008 car and didn’t have a yardstick to judge this version against.
However, it also makes the point that the Impreza WRX is still a lot softer car than the earlier versions and that’s because it is still Subaru’s marketing intention to grow sales by broadening the appeal of the car.
Basically it comes down to this; if you want a sporty daily driver then buy a WRX if you want the hard-edged Subaru ‘Rex’ experience of old then you will need to stump up for a WRX STI.
So what’s changed with the 2009 Impreza WRX?
Well, among the highlights, Impreza WRX offers:
- 0-100 km/h time improved from 5.8 seconds (MY08) to 5.31 seconds26kW more power
- 23Nm more torque
- Increased boost
- Enhanced suspension package - sharper, more aggressive handling
- Better fuel efficiency (combined cycle/ADR 81/01)
- CO2 emissions reduced
- Options of leather trim with sunroof, and satellite navigation
- New mesh grille, with WRX badges front and rear
- Distinctive red brake calipers
- Wider tyres
- Red stitch seating and steering wheel adds to sporty appearance
- WRX logos on front seats
- Pricing maintained at MY08 levels – simple choice between hatch or sedan, as prices identical
Since we unveiled Impreza WRX sedan at the Australian International Motor Show in October, we’ve been inundated with inquiries. Controlled aggression sums up the MY09 Impreza WRX – it performs better across the board, from power and torque to carbon footprint, which is a major engineering achievement. New generation Impreza WRX hatch opened up a whole new stream of customers for us. Now the introduction of the sedan, combined with a raft of enhancements, gives us the opportunity to take the WRX profile to a whole new level.” Nick Senior, Managing Director, Subaru Australia
Mr Senior said the new generation Impreza range is a winner across the board, with sales up 7.0 per cent to the end of October.
“We’ve had amazing customer acceptance of new generation Impreza, and early indications since the introduction of sedan variants in September are that it’s going from strength to strength. Our safety message combined with a fun driving experience, durability, excellent whole-of-life costs and resale value, continue to attract new customers to Subaru.”
In the interior of the WRX red stitching is added to the seats and steering wheel and the WRX logo features on front seats.
For the first time, the car is available with the options of leather with sunroof, satellite navigation or the combination of leather, sunroof and SatNav. A 60/40 split/fold rear seat optimizes cargo carrying options.
As part of the ride and handling improvements there are wider Dunlop SP Sport 01 225/45R17 tyres.
A new mesh grille and WRX badges front and rear, for added visual distinction and the WRX sedan features a boot lid spoiler and the hatch a rear roofline spoiler. Red brake calipers differentiate WRX from other Impreza variants.
Running the larger turbocharger from the STI variant, maximum turbocharger boost has been increased from 78kPa to 92kPa.
A revised exhaust system provides a 30 per cent reduction in gas flow restriction, to match the turbocharger performance and increase engine power.
Subaru has also conducted significant testing in Australia and Japan to tune suspension settings for local conditions.
Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the 2009 Impreza WRX is biased towards sports handling, while retaining good ride comfort, grip and stability when driven enthusiastically.
The coil-springs, stabilizers and top mounts are stiffened and roll rigidity increased to improve maximum lateral G and turning ability.
Fine-tuning of the damping forces in the shock absorbers provides linear response with minimal delay when steering.
Improved shift feel is achieved in the transmission through use of a ball type key for the first and second gear synchro hubs and a change to the key groove on third and fourth synchro sleeve.
Hardened materials are used for the main shaft and first driven gear, while operation of the clutch slave cylinder now incorporates an orifice valve to protect the drivetrain during rapid clutch engagement.
A damper valve is added to the steering gearbox to reduce kickback, particularly when cornering on rough roads.
The downside of this could have been a lack of feel in the steering but we found that the car still had good steering feel and certainly had virtually no kickback, and we did drive it on some rough country roads.
Subaru says the new wheel and tyres were chosen to complement the suspension springs, damping and bushing, to ensure optimum grip and ride comfort.
The tyres also optimise the balance of dry and wet weather grip, steering response, NVH levels and ride comfort.
Tyre width is increased to 225/45 from 205/50, benefiting grip and handling performance, to match the more aggressive sports suspension setting. MY09 Impreza WRX is fitted with Dunlop SP Sport 01 225/45R17 tyres and 17x7JJ alloy wheels.
The new car maintains Subaru’s ANCAP rating of five stars for occupant safety and four stars for pedestrian safety.
It also comes with:
- ABS anti-lock brakes with four-wheel discs and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
- Brake Assist
- Child seat anchor points
- Curtain airbags – full length
- Dual front airbags
- Dual side airbags
- Four wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear)
- Front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters. Double pretensioners on driver’s seatbelt
- Front adjustable seatbelt anchorage
- Hill Start Assist
- Rear door child lock
- Seatbelt indicator lights – front seats
- Shock absorbing brake and clutch pedals
- Side intrusion bars
- Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
- Three-point A/ELR rear centre seatbelt
- Vehicle Dynamics Control (electronic stability control system)
As we said at the start the latest Impreza WRX is definitely a sharper handling, more powerful car than the previous model, but then a lot of people have told Subaru that it needed to be and they seem to have tried to heed the message and at the same time rise to the challenge being mounted by Mitsubishi with the Lancer Ralliart.
Our final verdict on their success or not will have to wait but the initial impressions are that this car is more to the taste of a lot of previous Subaru Impreza WRX owners, but it will still be too soft for some.
Tests and Figures conducted and provided by Subaru Australia.
MY08 Impreza WRX
MY09 Impreza WRX
|Standing quarter mile (s)||14.05||13.27 (-0.78)|
|Quarter mile terminal speed (km/h)||154.63||163.02|
|0 to 100 km/h (s)||6.03||5.31|
|5th gear; 80 -112 km/h||5.53||5.05 (-0.48s, 8.7% imp)|
|5th gear; 80 –120 km/h||6.95||6.35 (-0.60s, 8.7% Imp)|
|5th gear; 80 –140 km/h||11.12||9.68 (-1.54s, 13.8% Imp)|
|4th gear; 80 -140 km/h||7.96||6.72 (-1.24s, 15.6% Imp)|
|3rd gear; 60 -100 km/h||3.75||3.26 (-0.49s, 13.1% Imp)|
|Lap time (one km)||49.55||47.7 (-1.85)|
Fuel efficiency also benefits from the engineering refinements:
|Fuel consumption Litres/100km||Impreza MY08 hatch||Impreza MY09 sedan & hatch||% improvement|
MY09 Impreza WRX Recommended Retail Pricing
- Impreza WRX sedan and hatch $39,990
- Impreza WRX sedan and hatch with leather trim and sunroof $42,490
- Impreza WRX sedan and hatch with Sat Nav $42,980
- Impreza WRX sedan and hatch with Sat Nav, leather and sunroof $45,480.