Having used the 2016 Subaru WRX Premium daily for the last 18 months, I feel like I’m in a good position to give an honest review.
I’ll start by saying, I’ve been all about the ‘muscle car’ from a very young age, so moving to a four-cylinder ‘buzz box’ was a big step for me. To sum it up quickly, it appears to be a step in the right direction, as this car is a reasonably sized sedan with good power and excellent fuel economy.
So if you are coming from a large-sized sedan like I did, you will notice the stiffer suspension at first. It took about a month of daily use for the feeling to go away. Although, now when I get into a higher dual-cab ute or SUV, I feel like I’m swaying/bouncing around way too much. Guess it comes down to what you get used to.
One thing that definitely attracted me to the MY17 Premium was the technology. It’s pretty impressive to say the least – large touchscreen (7.0 inches), reads texts/emails, sat-nav, auto wipers, auto lights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror at night, dual climate control, USB ports, 2 x 12V sockets and large reversing camera. Also, the side camera mounted in the passenger mirror is extremely useful when parking or coming into the kerb/into your garage.
I’m also fairly impressed with the Premium sound system. I’m really fussy with car audio, but I must say this system does the job pretty well. Having the open-air subwoofer makes a huge difference surprisingly. By no means does it sound like a big 12-inch in a box in the boot, but it complements the other speakers quite nicely. However, the entertainment unit lacks Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and the built-in discontinued Pandora obviously doesn’t work anymore.
Moving on to the interior design, to me the look is pretty decent – it’s subtle and sleek. Comfort-wise it is pretty good. They say it can seat five, but I reckon realistically you would want four people max in the vehicle to be comfortable. The front leather seats are nice and hold you in well when going around corners (also easy to clean).
Seating-position memory in the MY17 is one of my favourite features, since the wife drives my car at times (up high and nose over the steering wheel). Back seat space is reasonable, although could be a bit better honestly speaking, as taller people will struggle a bit if the front seats aren’t moved forward enough. Also, there are no air-con vents in the back.
The boot space is pretty good for a car this size (460L), and the back seats fold down so you can put something long through the boot if required. Personally, I definitely prefer a sedan to a hatchback.
Regarding speed, I would say the WRX is zippy at best, rather than ‘I’m going to die quick’ (maybe the STi has more to offer). But you just can’t beat that fuel economy to power ‘ratio’. With the fuel economy, the trip computer figures are always a little bit better than what it is in reality. Calculating the L/100km figure based on litres pumped and kilometres driven for the tank, I get on average 10.0L/100km in the city and down to about 7.0L/100km on highways.
I haven’t had the opportunity to drive it like Colin McRae just yet, but I imagine 10L/100km may become 13/14L per 100km when pushed harder. Currently the trip computer figure shows 8.8L/100km as an average – 25,000km, mostly sensible city driving.
The Dunlop Super Maxx tyres the WRX comes with are reasonable, however possibly a bit noisy on Australian pothole-filled roads. We’ll eventually see if changing these has an impact on the fuel as well. Perhaps the four-cylinder turbo could be the way forward at the moment, now that fuel prices have gone through the roof?
Overall, I can honestly say there aren’t too many negatives. It's a very good everyday car, it's just the right size, can fit baby seats, reliable, and has enough power. Some people would say the six-month service interval is a negative, but I reckon you should do it that often anyway to keep the car you love running well – especially a performance type of car.
Lastly, it looks like the competition at this price range is front-wheel-drive hatchbacks? Unless you dare to go down the Kia Stinger path – semi-tempting.