People who like sporty, fast cars will be fans of the Subaru WRX

Dale Johnson

From across the parking lot, the Subaru WRX doesn’t look all that distinctive; it could be almost any other compact four-door sedan.

But the bright red paint job does make it stand out somewhat in a world of what often seems to be only shades of grey, tan, black and white.

Then, as I get closer, the hints are getting more obvious this is a hot car. I notice the wide hood scoop, black cladding around the wheel wells, and black lower body cladding.

Subaru says these trim pieces improve aerodynamics. As well, there is a cover under the engine. Less wind resistance means a vehicle moves through the air easier, improving performance. Subaru says, “The engine undercover also features ground effect channels designed to increase vehicle downforce, similar to what is found on many modern-day racers.” So it turns out all this black cladding is not just for looks.

As I open the driver’s door, it’s obvious the WRX is even sportier inside than what is suggested by the exterior styling.

The interior is black, but there is carbon fibre trim around the door handles to provide some texture and style. There is red stitching on the console and the black Ultrasuede seats. The absence of flat and symmetrical panels – so common in so many standard vehicles – also helps to make the interior interesting, sporty and luxurious.

As I settle into the driver’s seat, I realize the interior feels even better than it looks. The seats are incredibly comfortable as they wrap around my hips and back. It’s easy to adjust the eight-way power seat and the steering wheel to get into the perfect driving position. That’s not true of all test vehicles; I sometimes think, “If only the seat could go further back” or “If only the steering wheel could go down a bit more.” As a test, I move the seat as far back as it will go – and then I can barely reach the gas pedal. I’m six feet tall, but this would be fine for someone 6’5” or even taller. I move the seat forward to a comfortable position and prepare to drive.


Inside, the WRX is comfortable and very spacious

First, I check out the instrument panel. Directly in front of the steering wheel are two large dials: the tachometer and the speedometer. There’s a large, 11.6-inch vertical touch screen in the middle of the dash, above the console. Everything is very nicely laid out and easy to find. There’s no guessing where something is.

The real treat is stepping on the gas. This car is fast, thanks to the 271-hp 2.4 L Turbocharged Direct Injection Subaru boxer engine. The drivetrain is all-wheel drive. Natural Resources Canada rates the fuel consumption at 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.4 on the highway.

The steering and the handling are very responsive. Visibility out the back and sides is excellent. But despite the ultra-comfortable seats and perfect driving position, the ride is sometimes a little bouncy and choppy. But then, that’s to be expected in this type of vehicle. There’s no confusing the ride here with, say, a 1970s Cadillac or 1980s Lincoln.

After taking a few minutes to get familiar with the feel of things behind the wheel, I crank up the premium 11-speaker Harmon Kardon system with subwoofer for some tunes. It’s as good as the rest of the car.

The price for the basic WRX starts at $32,495. The list price for the test model – the highest-trim level, called Sport-tech with EyeSight – is $41,895. Freight and PDI of $1,725 bring the total price of my test vehicle to $43,620.

This really feels like a sports car – although there’s the convenience of four doors and a good-sized trunk. People who like sporty, fast cars but also need room for passengers and a trunk to haul stuff will be fans of the Subaru WRX.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.

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