The manual transmission might be on its last legs, but you’d never know it by browsing through Subaru WRX equipment lists. A six-speed manual comes standard on all five trim levels, helping make the all-wheel-drive compact a perennial favorite among driving enthusiasts of reasonably modest means.
For 2018, the WRX and WRX STI offers more standard equipment and a face that’s cleaner — and ever so slightly meaner — than before, though one feature seems notably absent. That, of course, would be the stiffer global platform found under the new Impreza. Oh, and add “extra horsepower” to that list.
As Subaru fanboys wait for a next-generation model, at least the updated version won’t cost them much more.
The entry-level 2018 WRX adds $300 to its MSRP, nudging its after-delivery price to $27,885. A turbocharged 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder provides the motivation for lower-rung models, making the same 268 horsepower as before. Premium trim sees a similar price bump (to $30,155 after an $860 delivery charge), while the Limited adds $600, placing its total cost at $32,455.
Checking off the box for a continuously variable transmission adds $1,200 to the price of all three models.
The improvements for 2018 go deeper than just the WRX’s face. Subaru has subtly tweaked the model’s suspension tuning, steering and brake feel, and pursued a smoother shifter feel and clutch take-up for the manual transmission. Larger multi-function displays grace the interiors of all, some see larger infotainment touchscreens.
Moving up to the WRX STI, the turbocharged, 305-horsepower 2.5-liter Boxer remains. The price of an STI has jumped $900, for an as-delivered price of $36,955. An STI Limited — sporting either a wing or low-profile spoiler — will cost $800 more than in 2017. That model rings in at $41,755.
The slight exterior refresh carries over into the interior, which sees new materials and trappings, such as rear-seat cupholders. While there’s no extra horses on tap, at least stopping power gets a boost — the Brembo brakes now feature stronger monoblock six-piston calipers in front, monoblock two-piston calipers in the rear, and larger drilled rotors.
The updated WRX should appear in showrooms imminently.