The WRX is down 40 hp from its big brother, but in between 3,000 rpm and 5,000 rpm you'll hardly notice. It makes the same sounds as the STI and rips off the line with the same aplomb. Unfortunately, fuel mileage didn't seem to improve; my two fill ups averaged about 19 mpg.
I did like the feel of an old-school five-speed manual in the hatchback, instead of the six in our sedan. The cogs could be held for a bit longer, and there are no extra steps to get into reverse. Like the STI, the driver doesn't need to shift out of top gear to pass on the expressway. Also, the shifter felt robust in the hand. There wasn't a lot of flexing from any of the linkage parts.
car over the weekend, and not having to dodge every road imperfection was a blessing. I didn't realize how stiff our long-term car actually was until I jumped in this one.
Ninety percent of the time, having a softer suspension and easier steering are a good thing. But those few times when you do want the razor sharpness of the STI you'll miss it. Luckily for me, spirited driving wasn't needed on Saturday or Sunday.
I still like the sedan body better than this hatch. I like the big wing on the four-door, something I wouldn't trade for the extra space of the hatch. I might be alone in that. I also love this gunmetal color much better than the WR blue.
car that's good everywhere, except when being pushed to 10/10ths, the WRX will do. And being $8,000 less expensive doesn't hurt, either.
This is a pure, fun-to-drive hatch with excellent dynamics, a nice engine and a middling interior. Enthusiasts will appreciate the five-speed, which is easy, simple and enjoyable to operate. Downshifting is fun, and launches as one works through the lower gears are energetic. The engine is responsive, and this manual allows the driver to wring the most out of this Subie for spirited driving.
I like the look of the hatch. It's tasteful, functional and something a lot of Americans could actually find useful in their everyday lives. The interior is below standard, however, with chintzy plastics all over the doors and dash. The easy-to-read and sporty dials and athletic, upright seats, however, are solid redeeming qualities. My issue is that this cabin makes a sporty-driving and -appearing car feel cheapy, which for this price comes close to sandbagging the value proposition.
Behind the wheel, however, this thing does make one want to drive, and drive fast. The steering is light but pleasing, the chassis is sporty enough, and the all-wheel drive and the well-mannered body make this hatch more than up for the tasks for daily driving mixed in with some verve.
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door
Base Price: $26,345
As-Tested Price: $26,841
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged H4; AWD, five-speed manual
Output: 265 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 244 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,208 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 21/20.2 mpg
Options: XM satellite radio kit ($427); all-weather floor mats ($69)
For more information: Check out the 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX 5-door at shopautoweek.com.
By: Jake Lingeman