2009 Subaru Impreza Wagon
In 2009, a rift will form in the house Impreza built. While the WRX used to be the odd middle child – purchased by rally-obsessed boy racers and active youngsters starting out families alike – it’s now moving upstream, closer to big brother WRX STI
. This is because the old 224 horsepower WRX powertrain has now moved its way into the more sophisticated, everyday Impreza 2.5GT
, giving the Impreza family four distinct models. The WRX, on the other hand, has been down at the Dojo practicing ‘Kyo-ka,’ Japanese for strengthening and Subaru’s philosophy behind the car’s increasingly hardcore demeanor. Now with 265 hp, stiffer suspension, more rigid stabilizer bars and plenty of STI-esque running gear, the WRX has ticked all the boxes necessary to make it the factory enthusiast’s car would-be STI owners and WRX tuners have lusted after since its introduction back in 2002.
What's to Like
The extra top-end power and mid-range torque give the WRX a long, useful powerband, making shifting less frequent. Permanent all-wheel drive adds to the model’s appeal for those forced to deal with variable weather conditions. The updated suspension is more resistant to understeer.
What's Not to Like
Fuel economy figures aren’t terribly good for a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The sedan’s styling, while an improvement over last year’s model, remains somewhat bland – unsurprising considering the new Impreza was launched with the five-door as its poster child.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The extra power from the larger turbo is immediately apparent from the instant you jump on the throttle in the WRX. There’s a strong thump from the midrange torque above 4,000 rpm, and the engine really comes alive from 5,500 rpm on, with a strong turbo whistle present in the soundtrack. The brakes have little trouble bringing the car down to speed, and while they can fade after repeated hard stops, required pedal pressure remains predictable. The symmetrical all-wheel drive system tends to understeer if you stay on the throttle through a corner, but trail braking will eliminate the issue by keeping weight over the front axle, and the car rewards smooth throttle inputs out of corners. Oversteer can be achieved by lifting off the throttle at the limit, the all-wheel drive system quickly gathering up slip angles without incident.
Engine and Drivetrain
The 2009 WRX is powered by the same turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter horizontal four-cylinder engine as the 2008 model, but aided by a larger turbocharger, intercooler and revised exhaust produces 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque. Power is driven through all four wheels via Subaru’s Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system and, in true performance car fashion, only a five-speed manual transmission is available.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
In order to differentiate the WRX from the Impreza 2.5i and 2.5GT – as well as give it a resemblance to its special stage ready big brother, the STI – the 2009 WRX receives an STI-type grille and aero kit, which includes front and rear spoilers, a rear diffuser and extended side sills. A Premium Package, which adds a 10-speaker six-disc in-dash CD changer with auxiliary audio input, fog lights, steering wheel cruise and audio controls and power moonroof is available as a highly recommended option.
Key Technology Evaluation
Impreza WRX buyers can expect to find upgrades such as an automatic climate control system, electroluminescent gauges and a tire pressure monitoring system as standard. Navigation is available as an add-on option, which includes a touch-screen in-dash GPS unit, SIRIUS satellite radio and Bluetooth hands-free phone integration. Those who deal with hill stops on a regular basis will appreciate standard Incline Start Assist, which holds the brakes for an additional second when starting on a hill so that the car doesn’t roll backwards before the clutch is engaged.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
EPA figures for the new engine haven’t been released yet, but Subaru tells us they should remain the same as last year’s 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which isn’t fantastic, but isn’t bad for an all-wheel drive car either. Emissions for last year’s engine were rated at LEV-II.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
WRX-specific carbon black seats with red WRX logos hold the driver and front passenger in place, and are well bolstered for performance driving, yet comfortable enough for long trips. Other WRX interior upgrades include aluminum pedal covers and a leather steering wheel with red stitching, while the controls follow an intuitive layout.
Thanks to the exterior aero package, the WRX grabs the eye, its rally-inspired aggression striking a good balance between subtle and over the top. The integrated hood scoop, dual exhaust and 17-inch wheels hint at the performance potential of the WRX. We have to say, though, it looks particularly good in five-door form.
Market Segment and Pricing
Pricing has yet to be finalized for the 2009 Impreza WRX, but Subaru has assured us it will be priced “just under” $25,000, which is somewhat of a bargain considering the current car, which boasts 40 less hp, starts at $24,350. The WRX, which goes on sale in early September, will likely go directly up against Mitsubishi’s upcoming Lancer
Ralliart and, to a lesser extent, the 263 hp front-wheel drive MazdaSpeed3
What We Think
With the 2009 WRX, Subaru promised improved dynamics, more power and increased driver involvement, and they’ve delivered in every way. Best of all, with optional five-door versatility and all-wheel drive, you can have your cake and eat it too. That frustrated shriek you’re hearing is the guy who’s just walked off the lot with last year’s WRX. Without a doubt, ‘Kyo-ka’ has been achieved.