The sporty WRX sedan (which is also available in hatchback form) is positioned as the mid-level model in Subaru's compact Impreza lineup in terms of price and performance. It represents an excellent bargain, as it apes the look of the high-end STI while also providing 90 percent of the acceleration and handling of that significantly more expensive model.
With an all-new design expected to debut in the near future, the current WRX sedan mostly stands pat for the latest model year. The only change of note is the the addition of Subaru's new Starlink infotainment infotainment. Standard on navigation-equipped models, Starlink allows users to use a smartphone to access Aha radio and receive audio updates from Facebook and Twitter.
With the last-generation Impreza as a base, the WRX adds stiffened springs as well as anti-roll bars and fatter tires lifted from the STI. Also borrowed from the STI is are extra-wide body kit and an aggressive front fascia - in fact, the STI and WRX look nearly identical aside from different wheels and badges. One key difference is that only the STI has an oversized body-racer rear wing.
Power comes from a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter Boxer engine producing 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque. Despite those figures being significantly less than what the STI offers, the WRX is actually quicker from zero-to-60 mph than its big brother. The key: the WRX's five-speed manual only requires one shift to reach 60 mph, while the STI's six-cog unit requires a time-consuming additional ratio change.
Notably, the five-speed stick is the only transmission offered on the WRX - no automatics here. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Unlike many cars on the road that claim to be performance-minded, the WRX actually sports a fully functional hood scoop that force feeds cool air into the intercooler. As is the case with all current Subaru models, the WRX features all-wheel drive with a continuous and symmetrical delivery system that utilizes a viscous coupling locking center differential to provide 50:50 power distribution.
Inside, the WRX is beginning to show its age - the overall design is simple and inoffensive, but the material quality isn't up to the high standards set by more modern competitors.
Overly fussy and generally confusing to use, the optional navigation system is one of the worst units in any modern vehicle. At least the setup gains more functionality for the latest model year with Subaru's new Starlink infotainment system. Through a user's Bluetooth-connected smartphone, Starlink provides access to Aha radio, which offers tens of thousands of stations of Web-based content like Slacker, MOG and Rhapsody.
Starlink can also help keep Subaru owners stay connected to the social network via Facebook and Twitter news feeds in audio.
Trim Level Breakdown
The WRX is available in base, Limited and Premium trim levels.
The base model come standard with automatic climate control, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with USB and AUX input jacks and full iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity, front sport seats and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
The Limited trim adds heated front seats, a sunroof and foglights. The Limited brings leather upholstery, HID headlights and electroluminescent gauges.
The only option is a navigation system with HD radio, Bluetooth audio streaming and iTunes tagging. Numerous dealer-installed accessories are available.
WRX Special Edition
As this model year is the last for the current-generation WRX, Subaru is sending off the sedan in bright orange style with a Special Edition model. It includes a wild a wild "Tangerine Orange Pearl" paint job with contrasting jet black graphics, wheels and side mirrors. The interior features orange stitching on the seats, doors, floor mats and shift boot, along with dark interior trim and a black headliner borrowed from the STI.
Only 200 WRX Special Edition sedans will be built.
All Impreza WRX models come standard with dual front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Subuaru appeals to two very different groups - families seeking safe and reliable transportation, and younger buyers seeking fast, fun, all-wheel drive performance vehicles. The Impreza WRX Sedan is aimed at the second group, but likely finds a few outliers from the first group as well. finding its biggest competition in the rival Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart.
Some may also consider the Mazda Mazdaspeed 3 and the Ford Focus ST.