|Engine:||2.0-litre flat-four petrol turbo, 197kW/350Nm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed manual, eight-speed CVT with paddle-shifters|
|Fuel Economy:||9.2 litres/100km (man), 8.6 litres (CVT)|
|Emissioins:||213gr/km (man), 199gr/km (CVT)|
|Equipment:||Bluetooth, USB sockets, hands-free voice control, rear-view camera|
|Safety:||Five-star crash rating|
The fourth-generation WRX is the best yet. Subaru said it would be, after ditching the Impreza badge from the third-generation model. The new sedan contains all of the ‘bang for your buck’ elements of the previous three models but adds a level of refinement and sophistication that rivals the best of the European hot hatchbacks. In short, it offers many more bangs for fewer bucks – and at a starting price of $48,990, it is $1000 cheaper than the introductory 1994 model. The cabin is modern, roomier and with soft-touch finishes; the seats are snug, the driver’s seat and the steering wheel allowing for adjustment that offers excellent all-round vision through the raked windscreen. Our test car rode on the standard 17-inch alloys but the optional 18-inch wheels fill out the arches and better suit the car’s profile. The 17s weaken the aggressive front of the car; likewise they make the softer rear half even softer. There is a styling issue between balancing the look of the front and rear that raises an eyebrow. On the road the WRX is as rewarding as it gets. Throttle response from the more fuel-efficient, direct-injection 2.0-litre engine is sharper than ever, thanks mostly to a wider spread of torque from the twin-scroll turbocharger and improved gear ratios on the six-speed manual. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) with its pre-selected eight ratios is a pleasant surprise, making full use under the throttle of the broad torque band. The CVT is at its best using the paddle shifts, providing surging acceleration shifting up, and a seamless change shifting down a cog or two. The WRX is torsionally stiffer than the previous car. The greater structural strength, allied to retuned McPherson front and double-wishbone rear suspension with stiffer springs and larger anti-roll bars, a quickened steering ratio, and Subaru’s trademark all-wheel drive, adds up to a crackerjack mix of traction/body control/ride/handling. The best-bang-for-your-buck description is too crude for this car.
GOOD FEATURES: For the money, nothing comes close.
NOT SO GOOD: Styling is subjective, but the rear is bland compared with the aggressive front.