I remember the day this past summer when my colleague Robert and I were having a discussion with our friendly Subaru media representatives. The discussion entailed the “fun factor” in cars that enthusiasts adore so much, and how the BRZ, while being the answer to many voids in the current automotive industry, lacks a bit of grunt. We were talking about how during the winter, the majority of manufacturers try to cut down on liability (and rightfully so!) by retiring the sports cars until the white stuff melts away. I mentioned how much I love the rally-inspired WRX and how putting it on the media fleet in the winter would allow it to shine. Imagine my excitement when I got a call a couple weeks later that sure enough, there would be a 2013 Subaru WRX on the fleet this winter! Best of all, along with Subaru’s award-winning Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system, it would even have snow tires. An absolute winter beast, then.
Powered by Subaru’s EJ255 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder, the current WRX puts out 265-horsepower and 244 lb/ft of torque. While these numbers don’t really seem all that significant, it’s important to keep in mind that the WRX’s older brother, the STI, only has 40 more horsepower. After spending a few days with the car, I think the STI is all but redundant. Though it does come with a few additional features, the only one I’d really want is the addition of a 6th gear. This WRX’s manual transmission only has five speeds. If you’re looking up whether or not the WRX also comes with some sort of automatic, you probably shouldn’t be thinking about one in the first place.
Over the course of my time with the 2013 Subaru WRX, it seemed that every single enthusiast friend of mine couldn’t help but want to chat about the car. Whether it was about how quick it was, how great it was in the snow, or how spartan the interior is, it appeared as though everybody had at least something to say about the little Subaru, which I affectionately named “Scooby Doo”. I particularly fell in love with it one night when Toronto was hit with about 6 inches of snow. I looked out of my condominium window around 2:00am and noticed the snow coming down ridiculously hard. A normal person would have curled up and gone to bed. I decided to pull the car out and go for a drive, as this may very well be my only possible opportunity to see the WRX perform in its natural habitat. I was absolutely floored by its performance. No matter what you threw at it, the car would eat up anything and everything. Snow? Whatever. Ice? Nice try. Turning off traction control almost has the car saying “Really? Bring it on!” I was nothing short of befuddled. Piloting the muscled-up Impreza through the snowstorm really changed my outlook on snow and winter as a whole. After that night, I literally wished for snow every subsequent day that I had the car.
Now, while a WRX would always be a top contender in consideration for a car in my personal stable, there’s absolutely no way I could drive one every day. While the interior has everything I’d technically need, there are a few options I’d want. My tester, at just over $32,000, was a base WRX, so it came with a basic stereo with USB-input, Bluetooth (with the ability to stream audio), heated seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Great, especially for a sporty car that you’d want to drive year-round. The “Limited” package gives you a few more features, like leather seats, automatic climate control, and a sunroof. That’s a bit more livable, but it takes the price point over $35,000. I did, however, make a call to a local Subaru dealer, and evidently there are plenty of leftover 2012s (no significant differences between model years 2012 and 2013) with some big rebates on them. Under $29,000 it’s hard to find more performance and smile-value for the dollar.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while the Impreza was redesigned onto the GP/GJ platform for 2012, the WRX soldiers on using the “GR” platform, which, going on its sixth year, is becoming noticeably obsolete. The new one is expected for 2014, but Subaru has yet to officially confirm this. The car rides harshly, and the exhaust drones like no tomorrow. If you think the Civic Si is boy-racer-friendly, you haven’t seen anything yet. It’s loud, it’s jarring, and evidently quite prominent on the roads. The WRX will not pick up girls, so if that’s your intention, please buy a base Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Girls roll their eyes at this puppy. The WRX would, however, be ideal if your target demographic is men who love tracking and car meets. The number of cars who tried to stoplight-battle the WRX was ridiculous. I’m not even talking about kids in their late-model Hondas; I had a middle-aged gentleman in a late-model Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (yes, the one with 469-horsepower) start revving his engine at me at a traffic light. Evidently I’m more grown up than he is, because I accelerated at a moderate pace while I watched him light up his rear tires. Sorry sir, despite how this car makes me look, I’m not 17 anymore.
The question I continued to ponder over my time with the Impreza WRX was, do I actually have the cojones to buy one? The answer I came to isn’t as clearcut as I’d have liked it to be. I adore the car’s straightforward “I’m not trying to be anything that I’m not” attitude. It’s simple and to the point about everything. It’s not a sports car in a family car body, nor is it a family sedan with a big spoiler pretending to be sporty. While in 2013, this platform is a bit outdated, the WRX has managed to modernize enough with the times that it isn’t as hardcore as one might imagine. I actually feel as though it’s the perfect balance between “just tame enough” and “just sporty enough”.
I really don’t think I would buy one though; at least not as my primary vehicle. The shifter throws are a bit longer than I’d like, and I do enough highway driving that I would like a 6th gear. At 110-120 km/h, the 5-speed just revs a bit too high for what I’d like. This results in relatively poor fuel economy numbers on the highway too (10.6-10.7L/100km). Oh, and if driving spiritedly, it’s not hard to hit a combined 13L/100km. Don’t forget that the turbocharged engine does require premium fuel as well.
So, Scooby Doo or a Mitsubishi Evolution? I’m personally a Subaru guy. Though I’ve never personally owned one, we had a 2003 “bugeye” WRX wagon in the family that I’m still sad was sold seemingly more impulsively than it was purchased. Where the Evolution definitely looks polarizing and definitely performs, if I had to jump in a car and drive it every single day of the year, I wouldn’t be able to pick anything but the WRX. Turbo lag? Sure. Agitating shifter? Yeah, a little bit. Price tag? $32,495. The flabbergasted and annoyed look on my mother’s face when I stomped on the throttle in 2nd gear from 20 km/h? Absolutely priceless.
2013 Subaru WRX Gallery