By on September 28, 2007

front1.jpgWhen the redesigned 2008 Impreza WRX made its New York debut, you could hear the collective creak from the upturned conks of the cognoscenti. What’s with the Camry clone? Somehow Subie thwacked a dart-full of its patented anti-fun serum into the styling of one of the world’s most “enigmatic” designs. But just how bad is the damage? Have Subaru’s efforts to re-brand the rockstar ‘Rex as a kinder, gentler, pop-idol created a yawnster? More importantly: is it possible to be a bad Subaru, but a good car?

Initial impressions: welcome to the new Subaru3. The good news is that the car may be less photogenic than Tara Reid, but in person it’s not too bad– even with those stainless-steel-horseshoe taillights and uni-brow grille. Sharp creases along either side work well here (as they’ve worked well elsewhere, hem-hem), though the front seems overly rounded in comparison. The truly elephantine hood scoop has the look of a just-about-to-sneeze 550 Maranello, but at least it’s well-integrated and less of a hack-a-hole-in-the-hood afterthought than previous years.

The bad news: whether four-door sedan or (better) five-door hatch, the playful nature of earlier WRXs is notably absent. Bugeye. Peanut-eye. Pignose. Impreza owners have always embraced their rides’ weird looks with affectionate disdain. Driving an ugly-ass Subaru was a chance to stand out from the pack, knowing all the while you had the goods underhood and underfoot.

The slick new model fails to distinguish itself from the motoring multitudes AND it looks like it was designed to adhere to some focus group’s idea of “sporty.” Still, the new WRX may have a touch of the old Subaru fungoid; it remains to be seen whether its looks will grow on its (former?) fans.

interior1.jpgAfter you whack your head on the unexpected window frame, you enter a not-so-markedly improved cabin. The new dash offers reasonably subdued chrome accents and a flying-V design theme (an encore performance of the fallopian Tribeca). The materials boast higher quality than the old WRX’s “we-spent-the-budget-on-the-drivetrain” PVC wonderland. Fine-vision gauges with STI-style startup sweep and center-mounted tach complete the updated look.

The new Subie’s extended wheelbase means that rear leg-room is far less likely to induce DVT than the old model’s cramped quarters. A more compact suspension means a wider (if not overmuch larger) trunk. Once again, rear visibility takes a backseat to styling. On the positive side, the new front seats are wonderfully comfortable and supportive.

Well, vertically. When it comes to cornering, it’s a case of BYO-Bolsters. If your seatbelt’s not snug, an aggressive turn can easily catapult you into your passenger’s lap. I’d also happily sacrifice the new steering-wheel-mounted stereo controls for a Momo tiller. And the shifter is as vague as Miss Teen South Carolina, particularly when down-shifting from thirdish to secondish.

subaru_impreza_wrx_manu-08_a_011-800.jpgBut why downshift? Subaru’s new 224 horse 2.5-liter mill lacks the pulsing sonic thrill you expect from a boxer engine, but it’s got porterhouse-sized servings of torque (226 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm) with a side order of insta-boost. In nearly any gear, at nearly any rpm, it’s possible to walk on the throttle and watch the traction control flicker like an electric eel trying to stun a manatee. And that’s with AWD. I frequently found myself punching it in the middle of a corner just to see what would happen.

Sounds fun, right? Well, while the hugely available low-end grunt makes the ’08 WRX a traffic scalpel, mash the gas on a corner and it rolls like an improperly ballasted galleon. Grip is more than adequate for any sort of reasonable person, but g-force aficionados better get on the pre-order list for some aftermarket swaybars, STAT. And we’re not well pleased that VDC stability control is a $1500 option.

rear.jpgThe WRX’s speed-sensing variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering remains quick and accurate, but provides less feedback and more insulation. As rough roads and gravel will still be a natural playground for those who dare to get their side-skirts dirty, the tiller’s tactility isn’t a huge issue. And while the soft, long-travel, four-wheel independent suspension (double wishbone at the back) may add to the new Impreza’s tippy cornering, it’s truly astounding at swallowing bumps. Speedbumps are to be scorned, potholes pitied.

Taken as a whole, Subaru hasn’t dropped the ball with its new WRX. They’ve just punted it onto a whole different playing field. While the old WRX had its own (numerous) shortcomings, it easily made up for them with puppy-dog enthusiasm and ever-present utility. The new model has all the modern charm of a robot dog. It’s not bad, by any means: more comfort, more space, more style (arguably) and more fuel economy. All of which makes it more easily justifiable to your comfort-loving significant-other. It’s just too bad that all these “mores” add up to less fun.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

59 Comments on “Subaru WRX Review...”


  • avatar
    virages

    Ohh I am sure that this is going to be a lively comments section. Let the debate begin. As for the looks of this thing, I am torn there is a fine balance between elegance and blandness that this thing exudes and that is the antethesis of what Subarus were about, awkwardness and originality with a good bit of practicality.

    As for the suspension, I am not surprised. I missed seeing a speed bump at night in a Forester XT. I thought that I would catch air, and bottom out breaking things, but no, the bump was swallowed whole.

    Well, speed hoons, here’s to waiting for the STI

  • avatar
    cgraham

    could you compare it to something…say ‘it’s better than a… but I’d reccomend a…?” I really think this car is ugly, and not the right kind of ugly that the old WRX was, but the bland, ‘I wan’t to get lost in a parking lot’ kind of ugly. BUT I need a new car and need the utility of the wagon and want the AWD (it snows here…a lot). Easy? you say? buy a WRX wagon used? I want too, but I can’t FIND any…well that is a lie, I found an 06 with 50,000Kms on it for $27,000(!!) A brand spakin’ one is only $32,000!!!

  • avatar
    cyclopticgaze

    Sounds like they’re hanging the WRX out to dry as a mildly tweaked Impreza RS. My hope is that they’re pumping up the STI to be the uber sporty model all by itself, otherwise the EVO stands alone. But I love my 05 WRX (wagon!) and I wasn’t in the market for an STI because of price. The hatchback STI is very appealing, but again, the price. The beauty of the WRX was its bang for the buck; it shined at its price point. I’ll tip my 40 to the WRX.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @cgraham:

    The AWD is certainly a trump card for loads of buyers, and the fact that this car is [relatively] affordable, AWD, and some measure of fun to drive makes it worthwhile for tons of folks perhaps including you. It’s very well rounded, and that makes it a good buy; it’s just not the cut-price balls-out sports car people (_I_) were hoping for.

  • avatar
    tentacles

    How is it that the original 1993 WRX, with a smaller engine, has more HP and Torque than the 2007? Are entering some kind of new malaise era?

  • avatar
    Hank

    I get tired of talking about the new Subie’s looks. Hello. It’s a Subaru. Complaining about its looks is like complaining that Rosie O’Donnell has too light shade of lipstick on this year. Irrelevant and irritating.

  • avatar
    sc5i

    Here’s a question: since it’s based off of the Legacy, and seeing that the past two Legacy reviews have been rather good, would you rather have a (07-08) Legacy or a new WRX, assuming you didn’t need the wagon.

  • avatar
    tentacles

    What made you think it’s based on the Legacy? The name “Subaru IMPREZA WRX” didn’t tip you off?

  • avatar

    I’ve got a wagonload of love for Subaru, except for the Tribeca which is gross. The new WRX just doesn’t seem true to the rally heritage; they’ve abandoned the rally for the road, and part of me appreciates it. By all accounts, the new car has better road manners, and sometimes it’s better to blend in with the crowd a little bit. While it might roll more in the corners and be less snappy, I think the new WRX will present a more viable option for many buyers as the styling is controversially bland rather than controversially ugly.

    This restyle probably increased my chances of getting one as the Mrs. wasn’t a big fan of life sized Hot Wheels. Also, I’m a grown-ass man and need more mature transportation than the old WRX offered. I appreciate it, and I hope to see many of these cars on the road.

    Sadly, I won’t, because with a $24,500 base price, quickly optioned up to around $30k they’ve priced themselves out in my opinion. The only people willing to pay that would be the Impreza fanboys, who they spurned with the dowdy redesign. My favorite carmaker has lost it’s way and I fear, my dear Subaru, Pleiades is dimming…

  • avatar
    Michael.Martineck

    To the bland come the mods. If you look at the new sheet metal as a blank canvas, it looks much better. I don’t enjoy spending $30k, then more to make it my own, but it seems an awful lot of people do. Subaru may have found a sweet spot in the market. It’s conservative enough for some and ready to be toyed with by others.

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    It’s really too bad. I was going to look at the new 5 door WRX. I really like the sports-hatch as I have a few kids on the way. But after looking at the styling, I’ll pass. The A3 and GTI are more stylish options.

    I suspect that Subaru will get a new kind of customer with this car, however, the faithful will test drive an EVO X first.

  • avatar
    BigChiefMuffin

    Even without the looks issue, I am not too sure who is going to buy this car. Unless you really need AWD, there are other cars around which offer better finish, performance ( and style ).

    It is very difficult to sell ugly cars – look at the discounts being offered on the Tribeca. I susepct the new Impreza will be going down that same road shortly… Very sad.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Before, the LGT was the WRX for grown-ups (nicer suspension, interior, etc). Now, the new WRX is the WRX for grown-ups… and where does that leave the LGT? Probably still flying off the lots, because it looks better, handles better, and is only marginally more expensive. I guess it’s nice there’s such a tuner market for the WRX, that way everyone can get their no-roll suspension, pothole hating fix. Subaru is just making its cars more for the masses, and while it may be at the expense of their fans, it’ll probably mean more sales in the end. Can a car manufacturer sell out?

    Oh, and the Legacy and Impreza each have their own platforms. Neither is based on the other.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I agree with lewissalem…I think Subaru might attract a new kind of customer with this version of the Impreza WRX. Of course, will it be enough to replace the ones they alienate?

    I guess we’ll know in a year or so…

  • avatar
    kansei

    tentacles: because it is on the Legacy platform now.

  • avatar
    cgraham

    I thought in an article on this site, which for some reason is being blocked right now by my work, it is stated that the Impreza is based on a shortened Legacy platform. I wish I had a reference but all the ones I could find are blocked at work…apparently they don’t like me shopping for cars on their time…I’ll show them!

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    Loyalist hate the styling saying it’s ugly. Same argument we’ve heard with each redesign since the bugeye replaced the classic GC body style. A few months go by and most warm up to the new look.

    Tires suck. Same Potenza Re92 that every enthusiast quickly replaces on every gen of Impreza.

    Suspension has too much body lean and it’s too soft. Another modification that seemingly every WRX receives right after tires anyways are springs, struts, bushings and sway bars.

    This car will appeal to a much wider audience than previous generations simply because the refinements in looks and ride comfort will attract buyers that had previously dismissed the WRX as a boy-racer. It’s a very capable car without modification, with them a monster lurks beneath.

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    BTW, how the heck does does the WRX receive the same 3 out of 5 stars as the Grand Prix? Your scale is seriously flawed if those 2 cars warrant the same rating.

  • avatar
    danms6

    Just to clear things up: the new Impreza models are based on the BL/BP Legacy platform now, but shortened by a few inches.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    3/5 Stars is what this car deserves, and while the aftermarket may be able to make it extremely capable, a tuned ’06-07 will still feel sharper.

    Keep in mind that I stepped out of my own 300hp bugeye wagon into this machine, so perhaps i was extra hard on it, but it could have been EXTRA GOOD. Instead, it’s less of an enthusiast’s car.

    However, good news: STI’s out in late October.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Subaru should offer suspension performance packs, a la the Mustang goodies available at any Ford parts department. They’ll grab a nice share of the aftermarket’s pie, since they will capitalize on the new WRX’s softness.

    The handling wouldn’t detract me, but the styling is a put off. I liked the last gen’s angry interpretation of the Tribeca’s vagina face.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Subaru and traction control just don’t get along.

    Traction has been one of their prime areas of excellence for so long, and now people can get it in a little black box.

    “Oh we’ll show those nerds, we will charge $1500 for our VDC option and prove our customers don’t need the stuff.”

    Holy cow! The AWD owner is the one who needs it the most. The AWD gets you going on the ice, but it still has limited ability to keep you pointed in the right direction unless you are a pro.

    It’s just irresponsible of them, and you have to wonder why so many other new cars have this technology as standard if it really costs nearly $500 a car.

    I would just as soon have 2wd and the VDC if I were back in the Rockies. The only reason to buy this car along the gulf coast is for performance, and you are telling us the handling has suffered.

    Good Luck Subie.

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    Subaru should offer suspension performance packs, They’ll grab a nice share of the aftermarket’s pie

    Funny you should mention that. The chrome grill that comes standard on the car was widely loathed by most at first glance. What does Subaru do? Offer an optional body coloured sport grill as soon as the car launches. Bowing to feedback or cash grab since you pay about $300 for the optional grill.

  • avatar
    cynder

    I drive an 05 Legacy GT and find that, as an adult, I preferred the attributes and styling of the Legacy over the Impreza.

    Recently, I was at the local Subaru Dealer for maintenance and asked to drive the ’08 Impreza. First drive impression is that it’s a solid, stable, capable car. Local interstates and highways were easy to deal with, cross-winds were minimized. Seemingly uninspiring. The thing is, It can take corners faster than my Legacy GT… it just doesn’t feel like it.

    So the spirited, fun feeling of the old Impreza/WRX is gone but it’s replaced with a more balanced and smoother ride.

    That tippy feeling isn’t so obvious to me. The Legacy GT has a very similar feel except that in the Legacy, if you don’t keep your foot on the accelerator it feels like the back-end might come around…though it never does.

    The interior is a vast improvement over the previous model. The shapes and style are very reminiscent of the Tribeca but in only the most functional, attractive way. The interior plastics are similar to the 05 Legacy which is to say good. Possibly even be class leading in this category… I’m thinking about current models of Civics, Corollas, Focus, Cobalt and Lancer. In comparison, only the VW Jetta has a more upmarket feel… but have you driven a Jetta lately? Ick!

    There are criticisms. The factory steering wheel is too thick and doesn’t feel as satisfying as the Momo model offered in other models. I hope Subaru brings that option back. The front seats are more comfortable than my Legacy but offer less bolstering… that needs to improve if anyone wants to take advantage of AWD and the exit ramp… but you shouldn’t do that until you replace those damn Potenza RE92s!

    I was almost certain that the Legacy GT owners let Subaru know how bad those tires are for much of anything. Especially in the rain or snow. You need the awd just to keep moving. Not to mention how easy they are to puncture in gravel.

    The exterior is more Corolla than Mazda3. Its attractive in an odd sort of way that isn’t easily photographed. It stands out but not too much… sort of like wearing the same clothes after being out all night. People suspect but can’t quite place what’s different.

    The Impreza is comfortable and casual but doesn’t move the design language forward in any meaningful way. Instead of making the next WRX they merely made an entry-level Legacy. Maybe less controversy than a disappointment? (The Legacy is nice but the WRX was the icon.)

    So the new Impreza is a bittersweet delight. Markedly improved and certainly better than many of it’s peers, just not in any way that someone would get excited about. The styling is bland, the textures aren’t Audi-esque, the driving dynamics don’t inspire hoonage. Who’s going to love it? People who want a Volvo but want more reliability and a lower price… that’s a fairly small market…. until the STi upgrades become available.

  • avatar
    cynder

    Oh, one more thing, I would have given the Impreza a 3.5- or 4-stars for this category. It’s competing against the Nissan Sentra, VW Jetta, Mazda3 and not to mention the Cobalt and Focus. Only the Mazda3 actually offers a solidly good blend of sporting dynamics, style, price and reliability. The others seriously fall short in one or more categories making the Impreza a very solid competitor.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    While this new wrx seems to be aimed slightly upmarket from its former position, I cant help but notice the legacySE’s 4 star rating vs this 3 star rated WRX. Speaking of that, I wonder how Brenda would have rated the Impreza 2.5i sport reviewed in Jan?

    Ratings arent the whole story, but they can tell a story.

    Something is missing in this WRX…

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    I don’t hate the hatch anymore, like when it first came out. All I want is a hatch that my kids and I won’t die in if creamed in a side impact by an SUV. So bye-bye Mazda 3. I don’t care about the WRX/STI variants, especially since I keep cars for 10+ years and my daughter or son will be driving it to high school in a decade. AWD is nice, but I’ve never been an overconfident driver and I know when to stay home from work when the roads are icy.

    In short, while Toyota doesn’t have one single car Ilike, Subaru made the base Impreza for me, 40-yr-old commuter in Seattle who needs a place put his coffee, and needs to haul kids to and from school without the weight of a minivan. If gas milage (regular unleaded, please) and 0-60 times are just marginally improved in the base model, that’s all I care about.

    Thanks Subie, I’ll take it in black. Hold the WRX.

  • avatar

    cynder:
    I disagree with your assessment of the competition – the regular Impreza might compete with the cars you listed, but this is the WRX. It’s only competitor (until the Lancer Ralliart comes out) is the MazdaSpeed3 – a much more rewarding and exciting driver’s car. Not to mention it costs like $3k less. Without the Mazda on the market, Subaru might have gotten accolades left and right for this effort, but the MS3 is eating it’s lunch, and rightfully so. Mazda clearly benchmarked & surpassed previous WRXs for the MS3, and Subaru better wake up and make something great as the bar has been raised.

  • avatar
    Ryan Furst

    I really don’t know about this car. As a bugeye wagon owner I must say that the new car did loose its ruff and tumble image. Besides the drive train it looks like Subaru is taking a page from Toyota’s book:

    “how to succeeded making cars for people who don’t like cars”

  • avatar
    kph

    The money is all that matters to Subaru in the end. I’ve seen plenty of non-enthusiast women in a WRX because to them it’s just a nicer trim level. They would probably gripe about the stiffer suspension in the previous generation. They could also care less about the STI.

    Also, since Subaru is trying to move more upscale like Volkswagen did, the lower end “value” segment isn’t a priority for them. It’s as if they design their product line to get more money out of people, like putting the limited package on the STI, or the specB on the Legacy.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    I saw one yesterday while fetching my lunch… the pale blue painted surfaces on the wagon I encountered had a texture undoubtedly inspired by a citrus fruit. Oh and it is just as I expect from subaru… objectionable in appearance. IMO the last attractive subarus (save for last year’s Legacy) were in the early to mid 90′s…. the legacy designed by a Brit, dunno who designed the first WRX but it looked okay and not half bad as a wagon.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Subaru had many ways to improve the WRX, but they took almost none of them.

    But first, applaud Subaru for building a more compact overall car with a longer wheelbase, more interior room, and a lighter overall weight (yes, the new WRX is LIGHTER than the old one). That combination is a freaking gold star winner for any car and deserves alot more mention than it gets.

    But aside from that, the complaints about looks is not that it’s ugly or that it’s sharp looking…the complaint is that it’s neither. It should be something. But it’s not. If I had seen this car in an article about a new Chinese knock-off model, I would’ve believed it.

    Moving forward, the old Subaru had a fairly busy ride and alot of noise. It’s suspension rolled a fair amount, but not too much (especially with the 06/07 17″ wheels coming standard). They tidied up the ride qualities, added some sound reduction, and gave up some point and shoot feeling at the same time. It IS possible to make a car more solid and still maintain a direct driver connection. It’s just hard. Subaru took the easy way out by numbing up the driving experience.

    But, I’ll get to the main beef with the new WRX:

    Performance credentials. This car headed up the performance cred in 2002 with a sub 6 sec 0.60 time and mid 14′s quarter mile while everyone else was hitting 0-60 in 7 and a 15 second quarter mile was a good time. It could stop short, corner well simply by laying on the gas, and had nice direct steering (especially with new tires). The 2006 freshening with 17″ wheels, 4-pot calipers, revised steering ratio, and a serious bump in engine displacement (2.0 liters to 2.5) made all of this significantly better.

    Now, in 2007, it’s….about the same. But the market has changed. Subaru could’ve dumped a Legacy GT engine into the WRX (243 HP and ~ the same torque). Same engine displacement, lot of potential. But they didn’t.

    Subaru could’ve fit a much smoother, better shifting 6-spd transmission that they’ve used on the STI and Legacy GT Spec. B…..but they didn’t.

    Subaru decontented the brakes and went down in grade on the calipers.

    Subaru could’ve used better performing stock tires that ALL owners have complained about for the past 5 years. But they stuck with re92′s.

    All the while, better performing cars were undercutting Subaru on price and content. And now look where they are.

    The GTI (content and luxury) undercuts it by 3+ grand. The Civic SI (handling, gas mileage) undercuts it by 3+k.

    The MazdaSpeed 3 (better handling, power, steering, braking, and possibly options) undercuts it by 3k.

    The new Volvo C30…though a little different due to less doors…undercuts the base price by several thousand and offers very similar performance.

    And out of all of these, the WRX has the most uncomfortable interior (the Mazda might match it, but at least the Mazda is a 4-5 year old design…).

    This is one of the worst redesigns I have seen in my lifetime (I’m 25, so not that long). The only thing that appreciably improved for the driver was road noise and bump absorption. We waited 5 years for that?

    Joe

  • avatar
    alanp

    I went in to the dealer to see one a week ago, and while there are some improvements, the BIG problem is the lack of cargo room compared to the older WRX wagons. I had a 2002 WRX wagon, and sold it after 5 years to get the 2006 WRX wagon, but the new version has less space in back and just won’t handle the stuff I often seem to carry. It’s a little wider between the wheel wells, but way less height is available, and it seems even shorter with the slanted roof and rear glass. And someone explain WHY the sedan is now longer than the wagon??

    And with Subaru dropping the Legacy wagon they’re kinda left without a vehicle I’d want to own. Hopefully my 2006 will last a while.

  • avatar
    Rallybred

    And with Subaru dropping the Legacy wagon they’re kinda left without a vehicle I’d want to own.

    Just import one from Canada. We still get wagons in all trim levels.

    Also VDC is standard on our WRXs as well. Shame about that price differential though.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    i have to say i used to be a HUGE WRX fan after driving a few (2.0 sedan, 9-2x Aero 2.0 Turbo wagon, 2.5 turbo WRX sedan). They were just FUN car. The steering was tight, there was turbo lag but the engine was responsive and on boost it was quick. the shifter goes directly into the transmission and you can feel it buzzing in your hand. These cars can carry speed STOCK through corners that my lowered, fat-tired, fat-sway-barred Jetta simply can’t. They WEREN’T refined cars, at all. They are loud. They are buzzy. The windows clatter when you close the doors. They suck down 93 octane at a retarded rate for a 2.0L 4cyl. But they were just a hoot to drive.

    HOWEVER for me the situation has changed. I drove a Mazdaspeed3. It manages to be both more fun than the WRX and far more refined. For one thing, it has WAY more power with less waiting- that 2.3 DISI Turbo motor is an absolute beast. The Transmission is way better as is clutch take-up. the six speed has reasonably short throws for stock linkage and is notchy and precise, like it should be. There is torque steer but i’ll gladly trade torque steer for more power and more torque and less lag.

    and now there’s a new WRX that doesn’t improve the performance any, just makes it “smoother.” The distinctive style is gone – i actually LIKED the old bug-eyes! And the pig-nose! They were cool to me! This new one just looks like a melted 3s 5-door! So they’ve taken all the fun peaks out of the powerband but not added more power? why? They made the car look boring? Why?

    No thanks, Subaru. I was so set on getting a WRX when i got out of college to replace my Jetta. Now, not so much. Maybe i’ll find a nice used ’05 or ’06. But i don’t want your new one.

  • avatar
    RyanK02

    Is it really fair to knock this car on it interior? If the car is used the way it was designed to be used (of if you have a girlfriend that gets car sick easily), it might as well have a wash-down rated interior.

  • avatar
    RyanK02

    I really like the looks of the ’09 model.

    See it here.
    http://jalopnik.com/cars/2009-subaru-wrx-sti/?view=full

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I don’t have any idea how you could say this car looks better in person, it doesn’t, it looks worse. And I know Subaru’s typically have quirky looks, thats what I liked about the aero look in the last one.

    I drove down to the dealer last night to see if they had and ’07 WRX(they didn’t) and got a good hard look at this thing, and it makes me truely disappointed in a company I love. The styling is hideous and the hatch has a bubble butt.

    I called the dealer about an hour ago to see if they had any hidden 07′s in some back lot and we had a little tit for tat about the new one. BTW they didnt have any but he says they are still easy to get from other dealers(yay).

    Apparently they are having mixed reviews about this new one, meaning the car is not selling. From our conversation it was looks and porkiness, people are not warming over to it.

    I plan to go out there after work and take one of these for a spin before I pass final judgement. But I don’t have high hopes, I already have a Legacy GT that we love dearly, I don’t need to go and buy the ‘beaten with an ugly stick’ version of what I already have. I wanted a smaller car, what is with this growth trend they all do, bigger is not always better.

    I’ll be back with a grin factor rating.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The WRX has always been the poor man’s STI and the RS (with some mods) has always been the smart man’s WRX. Now there is no visible connection between the WRX and STI, I honestly don’t know where they are going with this except maybe to phase it out.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Potenza RE92s!

    I was almost certain that the Legacy GT owners let Subaru know how bad those tires are for much of anything. Especially in the rain or snow. You need the awd just to keep moving. Not to mention how easy they are to puncture in gravel.

    Have any of you Subaru owners successful gotten these tires replaced by Subaru(as in their dime). I’m going after Subaru’s for putting these extremely dangerous SUMMER tires on the car and I wanted to see if anyone else has been successful. Subaru Corprate is going to hear an earful from me over the next week. I may even tell them to fire the bone head who styled this new WRX, at a minimum he/she needs to go back to design school.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Since the WRX is now the Impreza SE in Toyota terms will Subaru now make an Impreza XLE?
    Something champagne gold with a moonroof, softer suspension, two tone cream leather seats, chrome trim, NAV, bluetooth, etc

  • avatar
    ronin

    I keep reading reviews that talk about how much better the new stretched WRX is in what was previously one of its bad points – rear seat legroom, or lack thereof.

    Yet when I go to edmunds.com to check out the dimensions, I see that the 08 WRX has 0.2 inches LESS legroom than the 07.

    How could it be both longer and shorter? How could all the reviews parrot the additional rear legroom without further quantifying it?

    There’s something wrong here. Something’s very wrong here.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    I briefly reviewed several variants of the Impreza today, and was astounded at the number of details that prompted a NO or a shudder. Poor Soob seems to have used up all its common sense with the addition of framed glass in the doors. WRX is more like WTF at this point. I hope Mr. Martinek is correct, that somehow this pig can be perfumed, because Subaru fills a vital niche for many “serious professionals” who require a dependable all weather vehicle.

    I was smitten by a preproduction Malibu, however. The interior did feature a counterintuitive colour scheme, whereby the lighter gray covers the dash the darker gray in the footwells. Harder to find objects on the floor and potentially a greater degree of glare from the light dash. Hopefully things will be fine, it was a dull day. The chocolate interior should be sensational, but cloth seat fabrics could have been a touch richer. Waay more character than a Camry. One thing, at 5’9″, I managed to smack my head while checking out the rear seat, though headroom was more than adequate once inside.

    Cadillac CTS has a brilliant interior as well, think Lexus but with more character and cohesiveness of design (one man’s opinion). Still some iffy hardware and fascias. Headroom with dual sunroof may disqualify six footers and rear seat room is compromised. Subjectively smaller than a new C class Merc, but clearly one of the most attractive entry level lux models available.

    Subaru won’t be able to advertise or incentivize their way out of this mess. They need a mid cycle refreshening like, tomorrow, preferably by someone poached from Alfa Romeo. Conversely, it will be interesting to see what kind of sales GM can generate with two clever redesigns.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but the front end of the new Impreza is easily the least attractive of any car on the market today, with perhaps the exception of the Rodius. Sloppy, melted, malformed — a sickly mish-mash of curves.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Redbarchetta –

    I am not sure of your experiences, but my 2005 Saab 9-2x aero (it’s a subaru WRX wagon if you didn’t know) had 205/55/16 re92′s on it.

    I owned the car for long enough to drive it in a variety of situations…..rain, heavy snow (I drove to work in 5+ inches of unplowed snow), summer heat, and cold weather.

    The re92s and AWD got me through all of that.

    I hated them because they would hydroplane if a child spilled a sippy-cup on the road on a warm sunny day. They transmitted every dust particle you ran over as if you were on the rubicon. And yet they rolled like a rotweiler going for a doggy treat. I put 9000 miles on them and they didn’t show wear though. Typical mfr. tire….not good at anything, but it’ll last forever!

    Just as a comparison: I had Michelin MXM4 v-rated all seasons on my 2006 Civic SI when it came stock.

    They were the same way…except, partially because they were 215/45/17 tires, I was able to wear them out at 22,500 and replace them with general exclaim UHP tires ($73 a pop, 7000 miles on them now, great bargain).

    Mfrs get to choose their own tires, but the drivers have to accept their choice.

    Joe

    P.s. Many mfrs are now realizing that offering a better stock tire or a good option alternative tire is a very good PR move. I.e. Caddy offers Michelin PS2 on the new CTS…well, every jouno who drives a CTS drives the PS2…so the ride is amazingly smooth and yet it pulls high G numbers on the skid pad and can dance the slalom like a pro. Very good PR move…

  • avatar
    alanp

    For a really odd way the Subaru is promoting these cars see this:
    http://www.autoblog.com/media/2007/09/subaglue_1280.jpg

  • avatar

    Joe O :

    About crappy tires:

    My Mazda 3 came with Goodyear RS-A 205/50/17 , these tires are on many other more expensive cars like BMW, Infiniti, Nissan and so on.
    I read so many complains about these and I agree with all, no grip on wet roads, forget about ice and snow, when these need to be replaced I will defiantly choose a different tire, they are also very noisy.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Three words are important here: form follows function. The front end has enough slots to keep the engine and brakes cool and that’s good. Also good is the fact that there’s no fixed spoiler on the rear deck – think WRX STi – which is only good for impressing people whose enthusiasm as drivers, most likely exceeds their skill levels.

    The mechanical portions of this car sound better than ever. Ultimately, in that context, it’s about power-to-weight and keeping it on the road. Given a driver who knows what he or she is doing, this machine should satisfy all the need for speed one has.

    The fact that it doesn’t look threatening, might be all the better reason to take it through a parking lot gymkhana and smoke a Mustang or two (legally, via SCCA or NASA – please).

  • avatar
    mlbrown

    Agreed, Terry Parkhurst. And I’ll bet “driver who knows what he or she is doing” is not necessarily an accurate description of the folks who think the WRX is all of a sudden underpowered.

    Also, Subaru does offer factory-waranteed performance parts through Subaru Performance Tuning. Prices? Not great, but not bad, either.

    A stock WRX is only a set of summer tires and a larger rear sway bar away from serious, serious performance.

    -Matt

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I went Friday night and took the new WRX for a test drive. It was a big disappointment. The interior wasn’t bad for the trim level I drove but everything else was not what I expected from Subaru. The addition of the window frame is a big problem for me, I don’t like dents in my head.

    They have managed to take the Subaru feel completely out of the car. The only 2 things I liked about the car and I tood the salesman, were the engine and clutch, I prefer our 2005 Legacy GT in every other way. The engine was very smooth and pulls great from everywhere, but I did miss the neck snapping lag I get in our LGT.
    I lost interest in driving the car even before I got to and twisty roads and just brought it back to the dealer. I’m sure the car might have great handling prowess but they have managed to make it as vanilla feeling as an Accord or Camry.

    They also put this horrible intrument cluster, what was wrong with the last one, it functioned better and looked cool, this is just big and ugly and very in your face. Oh I also think they got rid of the rev limiter because I accidentally revved it to 7500rpm once. The engine is very smooth and too quiet.

    I’m sure this car will get them some new customers but they have managed to lose me as a Subaru customer, at least until they fix this mess. I guess I will be searching for a 2007 before they are all gone since I have no interest in owning this new one.

    About the tires, my complaint is they are DANGEROUS. I could care less about anything else, the tires must keep me on the road, especially when it’s wet, these tires are on my wifes car. We have nearly driven off the road twice because these tires just plain suck and they still look brand new. A company that prides itself on sure footed AWD and safety shouldn’t be putting unsafe tires on any model let alone a family sedan. Plus these tires aren’t cheap either, one of the most expensive in that size, so this isn’t a cost issue for them just a poor decision. I already told the salesman these tires are a deal breaker, I wont buy a new Subaru unless they are replaced BEFORE delivery at their expense.

    I haven’t had the chance to try these tires out in the snow and I don’t look forward to it when I do in the next few months. They barely stay on the road when its just a little wet and I have read some horror stores about how these tires don’t function at all in the snow.

  • avatar
    Recluse

    I have been all over the Subaru site, and I see no indication that VDC is optional. It’s on the list under “Safety” as standard, and there are only two option packages listed: Premium package and Navigation package.

  • avatar
    michaelfrankie

    I’m scratching my head like the rest of you. I remember back in 02 I think when they brought the WRX first over. Everyone was buzzing about it, it was ugly, fast and a little dangerous. Subaru needed to come up with more of that. I was hoping for 250hp, six speed and maybe few swings of the ugly stick.

    Makes you wonder what the sti will be like. One thinks for sure, it’ll be too much money.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but they took out the LSD in the rear end too.

  • avatar
    Kman

    I don’t agree that it looks good “in person”. I withheld judgement on the looks when I saw it in pictures, until I see the real thing.

    Well, the real thing is so ugly it’s embarrassing. Especially the awkward proportions of the hatch. As a fellow TTAC-er said earlier, “it’s the wrong kind of ugly”. In seeing the hatch drive on the street, I had the urge to ask the driver if he actually *saw* what he’s driving before he bought it.

    Really atrocious. And I was holding out GREAT hope for it, since I’m in the market for a new car and really want AWD, and a hatch. I’m gonng go hunt for used 2005 Saab 9-2X’es, and get a beautified WRX. As you can imagine, these are hard to find.

    When is Mazda gonna get their head out of their ashsh and put AWD on the 3 or 6?

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    The Mazda6 has AWD at least the Mazdaspeed6 did.

  • avatar
    danms6

    Next model year 6 will have an AWD option.

  • avatar
    noley

    In case no one has noticed, Subaru is requiring all 2008 turbo models to have their oil changed every 3750 miles, the interval deemed appropriate for “severe service.”

    It matters not if you are hooning around in a WRX or gently hauling your kayaks atop your Outback, 3,750 miles per oil change is all she wrote if you want your warranty to work.

    Makes me wonder if something is amiss in their engine designs.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Oh come on. Maybe its just we always hear from the WRX/Subaru fans on this thread, but I don’t buy any of it. The original WRX I found TERRIBLE. The bug-eyes looked like crap. The 2.0L turbo was slow-as-beans from a stop with terrible turbo lag. The interior was absolutely atrocious. I never drove a STi or any of the updated ones (2.5L or the flying vag). No reason to. They were still ugly as hell and crude as can be. And complaining about window frames?! Jesus. Gimme a break. There’s gotta be a good reason why everyone else uses them.

    So maybe I’m one of those new buyers they’re looking for. I’ve been seriously contemplating a new GTI. Come to find last week my company gets supplier pricing on Subarus. Heard about the new WRX. Ok, I’ll bite and give it a shot.

    The sedan looks like junk. But I find the hatch very nicely proportioned and solid looking. Not drop dead gorgeous, but a nice shape, with solid lines. Good enough, especially versus the chunky GTI. Took it out for a spin. Wow. Don’t know what they did since 2002, but there’s almost no lag, a good amount of midrange grunt too. Shifter is rubbery but fairly short. I’m not feeling a lot of buzzing on my butt. Car is solid and quiet on the freeway. Interior is still cheap, but at least acceptable now.

    Overall I really liked it. I turned in the 02 after about 5 minutes behind the wheel. HATED that car. Really my biggest gripes aren’t with the styling or performace but rather trim and options. Interior is still a bit cheap with hard plastic, iffy cloth seats, and mousefur headliner. No xenon lights and no sunroof. None of which are a problem in the GTI. Plus the car takes 91 octane and is only rate 19/25, which even with the 2008 rating system really is not impressive at all. But what I did like was the steering feel, the clutch, the shifter, the highway ride while still feeling solid in the twisties, and the effortless torque in the midrange. And NO TORQUE STEER! I have a Miata now, and the more FWD I test drive, the more the torque steer bothers me. Very nice to have it gone in this one.

    Maybe the Miata has made me look for a nice blend of performance and comfort (much longer commutes now). The Miata was all the performance I wanted, and the WRX was pretty crude too, which didn’t fit in that type of car. This new one is just about all right. Really torn between it and the GTI, but I can honestly say that I like both about the same, but for different reasons. To me that says a lot as I’ve been looking for a long time. I find the WRX better than the MINI, Mustang, Z, Acura TSX, Mazda3, and a whole slew of other cars I’ve driven. Not because it is the sportiest or most fun, but because it and the GTI have combined fun with civility, and don’t look ridiculous (see Civic Si). With the driving I’m doing, on the freeway, in Chicago traffic, I just don’t want hard-core any more. But it is still nice to take an onramp and get a grin.

    So I’m a convert. Hated that old WRX. Crude and crappy and ugly. Really really like this new one. Subaru has gotta be hoping there are 10 of me for every 5 current owners they pissed off. I’m just not about to rip this new one when they’ve fixed everything I hated about the old one.

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    Jerome10, i totally feel you on this one. as a “grown-ass man” i can’t be seen in an STI or Evo, but i still want the ability to play a little when the urge arises. for me, the old WRXs didn’t give enough in the comfort department to fit into any garages except those of the owner’s parents or those with room for another more civilized vehicle. also, the price point couldn’t be justified given the lack of basic amenities in favor of all out performance (a weird philosophy for a sedan and hatchback maker). so i’ve been looking for a “softer WRX.”

    i know the hardcore enthusiasts are yelling that it’s not ugly enough, too comfortable, too quiet, too smooth, etc. (my favorite is Redbarchetta’s complaint that there’s no “neck snapping lag”). in any other vehicle these would be great accomplishments, but packaged in a WRX they are severe faults? a good car is a good car. could this be better? yes. is it good? YES. add to this the fact that the powerband is wider and the curb weight is lower . . . you get the picture.

    i have not driven the new WRX yet, but i did get a chance to sit in it at the L.A. auto show. the seats were very comfortable and snug (i don’t think i’d need more bolsters even though i’m a big fan of hard cornering). the cabin is upscale enough to not be a deal-breaker and has some nice new touches in the display. the exterior is better in person (i much prefer the sedan to the hatch). good wheel flares, nice lines, dual exhausts, the sport grill and aero trim are a must.

    finally, i understand why everyone is raving about the MS3. great car. but as Jerome10 mentions it’s not for people that don’t want torque steer or wheelspin issues. the car has too much torque to be a FWD car. it gets great marks for being a really good handling FWD car, but that doesn’t mean that it handles better than an AWD car. had they put an AWD system in it like in the MS6 it would be in line with the WRX. comparing the two now is impossible. also, the MS3′s interior was not a perfect 10 either (see Lyn Vogel’s review).

    for my money, the WRX is the best option. i’ll pick one up used (1yr. / 10K miles or so) for a little less and do some additions to bring out the best in it. i can’t wait.

    by the way, when it comes to stars i get the feeling that the rating is not an objective scale applicable across the board (hence comparing the 3 star WRX to other 3 star cars is not a good idea). i get the feeling the star rating more accurately depicts how well the car met the reviewers expectations / preconcieved notions of what it should have been. this WRX is not quite what we think WRXs should be = 3 stars. but i doubt you could justify the rating if these same attributes were found on a honda, toyota, nissan, or mazda.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States