The WRX passed the one year mark a few months ago and the odometer hasn’t stopped rolling. It’s been on a few road trips, a track day or two, and racked up another 12,000 miles since the last update in August.
The new car smell might be fading, but it feels just as new as it did 15 months ago. I’ve mostly kept my urge to modify it at bay, but it’s received a few tweaks for comfort along with a few parts to make it perform a little better on track.
Our last update ended with a plan to attend some competitive driving events and, as luck would have it, SCCA offered a demanding multi-day event that would put the car through its paces.
SCCA hosted the Targa Southland event a couple of weeks after I filed my last update, so I decided to sign up to run my WRX. In preparation for the event, I decided to replace the brake fluid in the car with some racing brake fluid and better compound pads since the car would be running six events in three days.
Targa is the first event of its kind, set up to showcase all the programs offered by SCCA. It started with an autocross at ZMax Dragway in Concord, NC, on Friday, followed by a track event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway down the road. We drove a combination of the oval and infield course. Even though I was jittery as I climbed the bank of turn 3, the car was unfazed and ready for more. Once I got comfortable, I was able to bring up my pace and didn’t want to leave the track. The brake setup was more than enough for the speeds I was sustaining and the only hiccup was the stability control system freaking out on some of the banks, likely related to the bank’s extreme angle. These two events would be plenty on their own for a fun day, but the Targa organizers had much more in mind.
We were on track at the Speedway until a little after 8 p.m., at which point I drove it off and took it straight to dinner. The dinner was followed by a departure to Georgia as we had our next track event at Atlanta Motorsports Park in the morning. The car made the 200 miles trip down to Gainesville with ease and showed no signs of being tired from its grueling day of competition.
We ran time trials on track at AMP for about four hours before proceeding to the road rally through the mountains of Georgia and up to Chattanooga. We had a nice break along with dinner in Chattanooga and decided to hit downtown Nashville on the way to our next destination. We went to sleep at our hotel in Portland, TN, and headed out to the NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green the next morning.
Our day started with another autocross followed by a track event called TrackCross. My confidence was growing as I was able to get within four seconds of the class leader as the day went on. I felt like I was pushing the car to its maximum, but learned otherwise when Jack showed up to give me some on-the-fly instruction. He was able to immediately give me a few tips to improve by another half second, but what really showed the cars capability was when he got behind the wheel without any practice time in the car and beat my best time by three seconds. This experience was one of the factors that reinforced my decision not to modify the car beyond brakes and tires and to try improve my skills before make any further changes.
At the end of the day on Sunday, the car had competed in six events, driven 700 miles between them, and burned through multiple tanks of fuel. It wasn’t any worse for the wear. I removed the decals from the event, checked over the brakes, tires, fluids and made the 500 miles trip back home to North Carolina without issue.
Tires and brake pads showed a little wear, but the car was surprisingly durable and required no maintenance other than a wash after the event. It continued on with daily driver duty and didn’t develop any new noises.
Although no new noises have appeared, there’s one noise that’s become more apparent over time, related to the HVAC system.
The blower motor in many Subarus is pretty loud and was one of the things to have greatly improved in my recent test of the new Impreza. I did some research and found out the WRX does not ship with a lower insulation panel for the dash, which makes the noise that much more clear. The Crosstrek does have an insulator panel. Since the two models share a common dash, I decided to order the panel and clips for about $30 and give it a try. The panel popped right in and the noise has now been reduced to a comfortable level.
A few more road trips were made in the fall as I took some weekend visits around North Carolina and a trip to Ohio for an American Endurance Racing event. As I racked up the mileage to the 22,000 mark, the tread depth of the WRX’s stock Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires approached the 3/32nds mark. The tires lasted longer than I expected when you consider their 240 treadwear rating and some of the abuse I put the through. I was satisfied with their performance on and off the road, and may consider them again in the future. Since winter was approaching, I decided to pick up some Hankook I*Cept winter tires. The I*Cepts are very capable in the cold and wet, but road noise is a tradeoff due to their tread design. We got some snowfall at the beginning of January and I was excited to try out the combo. They tires and the car performed quite well in the snow and I was able to get around easily. The only casualty of driving in the snow was a lower cover panel that got filled up with slush, which ended up freezing and breaking some of the fasteners. Luckily, the panel was in good shape and the fasteners were only a few bucks to replace.
Next on the list for the WRX is to pick up some summer tires sometime in February as I plan to get some driving instruction and attend as many track events as I can during the warm months.
The infotainment system continues to be slow like in the last review, but has not gotten any worse. The interior of the car does not show any more wear than it did when new and only suffers from dust that likes to collect around the dash. The only issue I experienced inside the car was with the armrest extension. This is an optional part that makes the console higher and is attached with four bolts. The bolts came loose over time, which caused the extension to become wobbly. It was a minor annoyance that was easily resolved with some thread locker.
There were no other costs involved in maintaining the car other than a few regular oil changes and some wiper blades. The only other planned maintenance before it hits the 30,000 mile mark is to replace the cabin air filter.
I’m still satisfied with the car and the miles surely show it. I anticipate keeping it for a few more years and will be looking at another as soon as the WRX moves to the new global platform.
[Images: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic, Bojan Tatarevic]