By Derek Price
It’s easy to imagine you’re a rally racer when you’re behind the wheel of this car, the Subaru WRX.
With a firm suspension, sensitive steering, a 268-horsepower boxer engine under the hood and all-wheel drive to give you mind-blowing grip in corners, it’s the kind of car hardcore driving enthusiasts can appreciate.
It even looks the part with a monumental hood scoop that says, “I may have four doors, but I mean business.”
Few cars blend practicality and fun as well as the WRX. It’s based on Subaru’s family-friendly Impreza sedan, so it has reasonable trunk space and a roomy back seat for hauling friends or kids, yet its personality is so much sportier and more aggressive than the Impreza that it’s hard to feel the similarities from the driver’s perspective.
Unfortunately, my test car came with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that sucked a lot of the fun out of it. I think the six-speed manual is the only way to go with this car.
And one thing has always bothered me about the plain ol’ WRX: it’s not an STI.
The STI is Subaru’s even faster, more powerful, hard-edged version of this car. It’s one of the world’s most amazing performance sedans, and I’m not sure I could be happy with a WRX knowing the STI exists.
It’s the same reason I couldn’t buy a Porsche Boxster. As great as that car is, I’d always wish it was a 911.
Granted, the WRX would be far easier to live with day-to-day than the crazy STI. It’s tremendous fun, but it still has enough sound insulation and a springy suspension to keep highway trips fairly comfortable.
The WRX got a redesign last year, and Subaru is already making some upgrades to the 2016 model that are mainly centered around its electronics.
The Subaru EyeSight system, which uses stereo video cameras to help prevent and minimize front crashes, is available now. It comes in a package that also includes a navigation system, blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Subaru’s StarLink touchscreen interface is also available on all trim levels this year, and it’s a major upgrade over the older, clunkier system. It had a fast response time and an easy-to-use navigation interface on my test car.
Pricing for the WRX starts at $26,595 for the base model and $28,895 for the more well-equipped Premium trim. You can the the top-of-the-line Limited with leather, an eight-way power driver’s seat, LED headlights and more for $30,395.
The raw, high-performance STI starts at $34,695 and tops out at $39,995. It’s only available with the six-speed manual transmission, as it should be.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2016 Subaru WRX Limited ($30,395). Options: Option package 23 ($4,095), CVT transmission ($1,200), auto dimming mirror compass ($215), center armrest ($158). Price as tested (including $795 destination charge): $36,858
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Length: 180.9 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo boxer four-cylinder (268 hp, 258 lb.-ft.)
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Estimated Mileage: 18 city, 24 highway
2016 Subaru WRX
Why buy it?
It’s a unique twist on the sports sedan that driving enthusiasts love. Its boxer engine delivers ample smooth, syrupy power, and its firm suspension and all-wheel-drive traction give it amazing grip in corners.