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Subaru Impreza WRX – Ugly Duckling or Pocket Rocket?
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SteveT
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The old saying goes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can’t see many beholding the new Subaru Impreza WRX as anything close to beautiful, because it isn’t. Conversely, I wouldn’t quite describe it as ugly, so what is it? We writers have a word we fall back on when a car falls between these two extremes: purposeful.

The Subaru Impreza WRX is purposeful. That this is not a pretty car will not deter the thousands of dedicated ‘Scoobie’ lovers who will drool over the sheer, ridiculous and always astonishing performance that these rally-derived machines provide, and that can only be a good thing. Let’s have a good look at what it’s all about.

Origins of The Subaru Impreza WRX

Subaru Impreza WRXWhere did it all begin? It’s a good question because, unlike rivals Toyota and Nissan (formerly Datsun) Subaru is a relative newcomer to the mass produced automobile market. The company produced its first car for the Japanese market in 1954, and was not a familiar name in Europe, or the USA, until the 1970′s.

Even then it took some time for the name to become ingrained in the brains of the motoring masses, and it was not until the Legacy – in the late 1980′s – that people became endeared with this quaint company with a four wheel drive fetish. The Impreza – and the farmers’ favourite the Forester – cemented the firm’s reputation.

Then came the rally cars. The 1990′s saw Subaru become one of the most famous names in world rallying as success as achieved widely with such famous names as Colin McRae and Richard Burns, and with success on the stages came the road going versions of the mighty cars. The latest of which is this, the Subaru Impreza WRX, a car that epitomizes the description ‘purposeful’.

That is, we have to admit, the point. The WRX is not meant to be anything other than a performance machine, and it lives up to the promise in that respect.

Subaru Impreza WRX – Do The Numbers Add up?

Subaru WRXSubaru Boxer engines are the mainstay of the company and have been part of the range for decades. This one, a turbocharged version that comes in 265 or 305bhp form, is a gem. Now, as I write this it is difficult to pin the company down on true top speed and acceleration figures, but we can be pretty sure the car is limited to 155mph (250km/h) – the industry standard – and is likely to reach 62mph (100km/h) in around five and a half seconds. That’s enough for the petrol heads to be satisfied, but it’s in the handling that the Subaru Impreza WRX delivers.

With many years of rally success behind them the engineers at Subaru are well placed to deliver a finely handling, precise and sporting chassis, and they deliver on all fronts. The combination of the deliberately wide-body design and the intricately developed all wheel drive system gives a surety underfoot that is simply unbelievable at times, and coupled with the specially tuned suspension set up the result is a car that is clearly related to world class rally cars.

Described in just about every road test as the best handling WRX ever, this is a fine accolade as the predecessors were among some of the best handling road cars of all time. The WRX will be happy on the track as well as the road, and with track days a popular choice we can see a number of these cars being put through their paces on a regular basis. It’s not just the stunning traction that is notable but the simply amazing all round handling, but that’s not to say this is an unrefined brute. The 2012 WRX is a far cry from the original, a car that combined brute force with brutal handling, and is as comfortable inside as it is, well, purposeful outside.

Subaru Impreza WRX – Practical High Performance

Impreza EngineThis is the main point about the Subaru Impreza WRX: you get superb performance as well as a full four seater family car, and you can’t beat practicality like that. Especially, it must be said, at the price. The 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX weighs in, in STi form, at little under £33,000. In the USA it will be more competitive, at around $32,000. For a four seat car with good luggage space and such stunning performance there is little on the market to match it.

You could perhaps look at one of the BMW models – the 335i is not much more expensive – and it is in direct competition with the Audi A3. More notably, perhaps, it is directly priced to go up against the Mitsubishi Evo X FQ-300, the Impreza’s natural rival from the rally wars.

So, why would you buy a Subaru Impreza WRX? There are many reasons – the performance, the motorsport pedigree, the apparently competitive price – why you would, but are they enough of a draw to take the attention away from the ‘purposeful’ looks? It’s a difficult one to answer; personally I’d be more inclined to spend my £30,000 on the Audi, or I could choose from any number of Mercedes Benz, BMW and many others, and to be honest I probably would.

But that’s because I’m not one of the ‘Scoobie-gang’. I haven’t been bitten by the bug. Given time, and perhaps a facelift, I could easily warm to the WRX, but not right now.


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