When one takes time to think about how the years have gone by it can be a tad bit overwhelming. The days of grunge rock don’t seem like they were that long ago, but one glimpse at the calendar and it’s clear that time sure has flown.
Many years ago, back in the late 1980s, there was an interesting trend happening in New York City. The baseball team that was consistently overshadowed has grown up and become a major player in the race for the title. The Mets had always been the baby brother of the Yankees. They were never quite good enough and they never had millions of fans from around the world. Yet, as the Yankees declined, the Mets grew.
That brings us right to the Subaru WRX. For years, the normal WRX has been in the shadows of the bigger and faster STI variant, but those days seem to be over. With the 2011 model year, the WRX has gone off to camp and come home a grown up, ready to take on the sports sedan world like never before.
Hit the jump to read on.
The WRX has lost those plain looks in favor of a more brutish look, the same look that the STI wears. The move was done to give the WRX the attention is has deserved for years, but never got. With this great new skin, comes the ability to pack the WRX full of new mechanical feats that would have never been possible before.
The new sheet metal has added 1.3 inches to the width of the car, making the new WRX look more aggressive than the previous version. Whereas the 2010 model looks like a normal Impreza with more fancy badges, this new model stands out like a body builder.
In the front of the car, you should easily be able to recognize the hood, fascia, and the fenders, as they are the same kit from the 2010 STI. Around back, the wider track is most noticeable. It’s got wide hips, a unique scoop at the rear, and simple, yet flowing taillights. This look might not be for some, but we quite like it for its standout presence.
Inside, the cabin is just about the same as on the old model. The metal bits were dropped, in favor of more black plastic pieces and give the car a more grown up look. The plastics are a bit hard to the touch, but we have no doubts that they will stand the test of time, as most things of Subaru products do.
Besides the plastic bits, the interior is fairly decent. The seats are comfortable and offer plenty of support in the bends. The red stitching is sporty enough for boy racers, but subtle enough for adults. The stereo is easy to use and the sound that comes from the speakers is brilliantly crisp. The overall look for the car isn’t up to BMW standards, but for the price, it can’t be beat.
While the style of the car makes it look sensational, it’s more for performance than anything else. The wider track pays off in the bends, as do the wider wheels. For 2011, the WRX comes with 17x8 alloys wrapped it 235/45R17 Dunlop SPo1 summer tires. The increase in size hasn’t affected the weight though, as Subaru claims the new wheels decrease weight by 1.5 pounds each.
The wheels weren’t enough to keep the overall weight down, as the new 2011 model has gained 33 pounds over last year. The weight is down to the extra bodywork and some bracing, but the gain isn’t that noticeable. Subaru did manage to reduce body roll by stiffening the springs up and widening the car, although it would take many laps of track in order to see a difference.
Under the aggressively sculpted hood lies a 265 horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 244 pound-feet of torque. The motor is connected to a five-speed manual transmission that offers up smooth shifts and an impressively light clutch pedal. Like all Subaru models, the WRX comes with full-time all-wheel drive.
The EPA rates the new 2011 WRX at 19 miles per gallon city and 25 mph on the highway, but we managed an overall rating of 24.7 mpg during city, highway, and some spirited driving. While the overall mileage is a bit disappointing compared to most midsize sedans, the turbocharged boxer motor and the all-wheel drive handling make up for it.
Seeing as we don’t have our very own track to play on, we had to make do with some sharp bends on city streets to test out the Subaru’s handling. The roads where just awful, so it wasn’t the greatest experience in the world.
Even with Ohio’s terrible roads, nothing could spoil the WRX’s wonderful driving experience. The turbo four-cylinder is sensationally quick and even kept up with our 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 off the line. Hitting 60 miles per hour takes just 5.4 seconds, but we think that with some quality driving you could do it in around 5.2 seconds.
That sensational motor wasn’t even the best bit of the new WRX. The brakes were just incredible and it would take some serious back roads and one insane driver to reach to limits of the WRX’s handling. The feedback through the wheel was brilliant and turn ins were crisp and precise. After 20 minutes, we fell in love with the Subaru.
Like the 1980s New York Mets, the Subaru WRX has grown up and surpassed its big brother, the 2010 STI. There is a new high-performance STI coming next year, so the WRX should enjoy its time at the top while it still can. Still, at $24,495, it seems like with a few thousand dollars spent on tuning parts, the plain WRX might be a smarter buy. Something to think about during your work weeks.