Even before arriving on our shores, the Subaru WRX had an enthusiastic following in America, due in part to video games like Gran Turismo. Being able to actually buy the car has only solidified its fan base; however a redesign for 2008 model year had WRX loyalists concerned that the all-wheel drive pocket-rocket had lost its edge. For 2009, Subaru has made a minor course correction with the WRX, imparting it with a stronger performance focus and leaving the 2008-spec WRX to carry on as the brand-new 2.5GT trim. In terms of performance and visual appeal, the tweaked 2009 Subaru WRX is now more closely tied with the top-of-the-line WRX STi, giving plenty of cause for the Subaru faithful to rejoice.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
You'll like the 2009 Subaru WRX if you want an import tuner car that can also serve double duty as a practical family sedan or wagon. Also, those in snowy climates will appreciate the standard all-wheel-drive system.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
You may not like the 2009 Subaru WRX if comfort is your primary concern. The revised WRX rides firmer and only comes with a manual transmission, leaving those who prefer a relaxed ride or an automatic transmission to consider the softer 2.5GT trim.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
Topping the list of changes for 2009 is a sizable bump in engine performance; an increase of 41 horsepower and 18 pound-feet of torque compared to the 2008 model. There are also a number of styling tweaks that push the Subaru WRX closer to the sporty end of the design spectrum.
Compared to the previous model year, the 2009 Subaru WRX offers a noticeable boost in performance. On the road, the revised WRX is eager to turn, offers high handling limits in corners and the steering feels light but precise. The re-tuned 2.5-liter turbo-charged engine delivers robust acceleration and strong power throughout the rev range. It comes paired with a five-speed manual transmission that features smooth shifts and an easy-to-use clutch. Adding to the fun is a standard all-wheel-drive system that helps improve acceleration coming out of corners by sending power to the tires with the most grip. A potential weak-point in the WRX's armor is its brakes, which suffer from brake-fade after repeated hard stops. Despite its performance-car leanings, the WRX remains a pleasant car to drive with reasonable ride comfort, subdued interior noise and good outward visibility.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
In low traction environments, the benefits of all-wheel drive are obvious, but slick roads aren't the only place to enjoy the Subaru WRX's standard all-wheel-drive system. When pushed on winding mountain roads, for example, the WRX easily puts its power to the ground, greatly improving performance.
We also like that the WRX is offered as a five-door wagon variant. While not always popular in America, we think wagons like the WRX that offer practicality along with exhilarating performance are a great way to have your cake and eat it too.
Inside, checkered black carbon upholstery, embroidered WRX logos and red stitching add to the Impreza's sporting persona. Despite its emphasis on performance, the interior of the WRX is every bit as functional as the practical Impreza and 2.5GT trims. Headroom is decent in all seating positions and rear-seat legroom is good as long as the front seats aren't adjusted to the rear-most position. Trunk space in the Sedan is a respectable 11.3 cubic feet, but for those who need to carry lots of gear, the five-door Wagon offers a full 19 cubic feet behind the rear seats.
The 2009 Subaru WRX is offered in four-door Sedan and five-door Wagon body styles. A previously optional Aero Package is now standard, imparting the WRX with an aggressive appearance befitting its sportier road manners. Other aggressive-looking details include a gaping hood scoop that feeds air to the intercooler, a blacked-out front grille, and on the Wagon, clear tail-lights and an STi-inspired rear spoiler. Further distinguishing the WRX Wagon from its Sedan counterpart are body color rear trim and a single exhaust outlet.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Among the standard features offered for the 2009 Subaru WRX are automatic air conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, four-speaker CD audio system and power windows, mirrors and door-locks. Other niceties include sport seats, aluminum pedal covers, a leather wrapped shifter and steering wheel and 17-inch wheels. In terms of safety the WRX features standard front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control.
There are two option packages offered for the 2009 Subaru WRX. The WRX Premium Package includes fog lights, heated mirrors, power glass moonroof, heated front seats, a windshield wiper de-icer and a premium audio system with surround sound, auxiliary input, 10-speakers and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Buyers who select the Premium Package can also choose the Satellite Radio and Navigation Package which features a touch-screen GPS navigation system, RCA audio/video input jacks and factory-installed SIRIUS Satellite Radio.
UNDER THE HOOD
ower for the Subaru WRX comes from a 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder "Boxer" engine. This engine's horizontally-opposed cylinder layout allows it to sit lower in the engine bay, lowering the car's center of gravity, improving handling. The sole transmission offered for the WRX is a five-speed manual. Power is sent from the transmission to all four wheels via Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system which features a locking center differential that can send up to 100 percent of available power to the front or rear wheels, depending on which has more traction.
2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
265 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
244 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
Base price for the 2009 Subaru WRX four-door is about $25,500, while the five-door Wagon starts at close to $26,000. Compared to the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, the WRX Sedan costs about $1,500 less, although the Lancer features standard technologies not offered on the WRX including front and rear limited-slip differentials and a twin-clutch semi-automatic transmission. To compare the actual transaction prices for the Subaru WRX, be sure to check the New Car Blue Book Value. Over time the Subaru WRX is expected to hold its value well, closely mirroring the residual values of its chief competitor the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart.