2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan Review & Road Test
Performance so bang on the money you feel as if you're getting change
- 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX, 2.5-litre, five-speed manual, sedan - $39,990 (RRP)
- Leather & sunroof $2500 (Fitted); satellite navigation $2990; leather, sunroof & satellite navigation $5490
- by Matt Brogan
When I last drove the current shape WRX I was, to say the least, very disappointed, for it seemed that the hero car we'd come to know and love was so diluted from its original and legendary formula that it was now almost laughable.
In fact it was so lacklustre in terms of its performance and handling attributes that I almost feel sorry for anyone who parted with their hard earned cash to get one. Thankfully the MY09 series is an entirely different prospect.
While the shape and stance of the new WRX may cause division among some purists - especially in sedan format - it truly is one of those cars that looks better in the metal, but I guess you'll just have to take my word on that.
To me at least the proportions of the sedan appear more in tune with the WRX's mid-90s pedigree, and although the car isn't as "boy racer" as it once may have been, there are certainly enough styling cues remaining to ensure the car's intentions are not mistaken.
Inside the simplistic approach may have some buyers wanting for a little more class, but with the exception of dash vents that aim squarely at your hands and a rather tight driver's knee space, the cabin is otherwise very functional.
I'd even go so far as to say that for four adults the Impreza is quite a comfortable proposition with generous rear legroom, supportive seats, excellent visibility and simplistic purpose all adding liveability to the feel of the small sedan's performance aspirations.
And it is these aspirations that now finally feel as if they have had their intent renewed with a deserved 26kW and 23Nm increase in the overall figures seeing the 2.5-litre boxer (EJ25) engine now develop 195kW at 6000rpm and 343Nm at 4000rpm.
As a result of this increase the car is now far livelier and infinitely more responsive. No longer do you need to wait until the rev counter is at the redline before the surge is felt with a healthy push in the back now evident from just over half tacho.
Acceleration is purposefully strong and 0-100km/h times are consequently brief at 5.3 seconds. In gear pull is also very rapid with power delivery both gainful and linear above 4000rpm.
Not that this is a reflection of any lack in performance on the bottom half of the tachometer mind you, with almost no turbo lag to speak of and much of the engine's torque available very early in the piece making any sprint from standstill markedly quick.
The five-speed manual offers an excellent close ratio feel with a notchy, mechanical character to the stick, which in turn provides a rather rewarding driving experience, especially when busier gear work is required. The clutch is slightly heavy, as you'd no doubt expect of an all-wheel-drive arrangement, but not so much that it is burdensome.
Braking is progressive of feel and settled in terms of balance with late threshold ABS (featuring EBD) making late braking into corners not only possible, but hard to resist. ESP is fitted to the WRX as standard but despite some very spirited driving I did not once have the system intervene, perhaps proving the real capability of the car's AWD grip.
It is this grip too that has substantially improved over that of its predecessor, and with less body roll evident, the car has much sharper poise when cornering allowing quicker chassis response - especially upon turn in - which reflects equally well via a more tractable steering feel.
The reason behind this is that the MY09 WRX features uprated shock absorbers, lower profile tyres, stiffer springs and beefier upper strut mounts, all courtesy of the MY08 WRX STi, which have joined forces with larger diameter front and rear anti-roll bars to dramatically improve the car's roadholding abilities.
This in turn makes the whole package far more nimble than its 1410kg tare weight would have you believe.
On board equipment, though rather spartan, is sufficient considering most WRX buyers would be more interested in the vehicle's performance characteristics than its feature list.
Nonetheless it include cruise control, power windows and mirrors, rear privacy glass, a six-CD tuner, alloy wheels, fog lamps, brushed alloy pedals (which are a nuisance in the wet), remote central locking and semi-automatic climate control.
Our road test vehicle was also equipped with optional charcoal leather upholstery and an electric tilt/slide glass sunroof. Integrated satellite navigation is also available as a cost option.
Safety features include ABS, EBD, ESP as well as dual front, side and curtain airbags all of which are included as standard fit, and the sum total of which means the WRX earns a five-star ANCAP rating.
So should you manage to avoid ticking the option boxes, it's fair to say that the revised performance and handling have made this one high-performance sedan that is bang on the money. In fact after just one drive you almost feel as if you're getting change.
The Rex is back baby!
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