At idle the engine has a throaty exhaust note. While it’s far from the growl of a V6 or V8, it isn’t the angry bees sound of a Civic Si or modified four-cylinder cars. It’s a satisfying auditory rush as the driver runs up through the gears and engine speed builds, but the cabin gets a bit loud as you approach redline.
New WRXs come with 17-inch summer tires as standard equipment, but even with all-wheel drive those don’t work very well with snow. Both press cars had snow tires, compromising ride and handling a bit for seasonal practicality. If the hood scoop, slightly flared bodywork, and engine note didn’t tell you this was not a regular Impreza, the WRXs ride gives it away for sure. It’s far stiffer than the comfortable Impreza, with nearly every road imperfection transmitted to the cabin. It doesn’t crash over bumps, but you certainly are aware if the road hasn’t been paved in a while. On our track, the cars understeer a lot, likely due in large part to the tires. Consequently, there really isn’t any way of evaluating the new Variable Torque Distribution system on the CVT-equipped version. We’re looking forward to seeing how the car really handles with proper tires when we buy our own to test.
Like the regular Impreza, this generation of WRX is roomier than the last one. It has the same good outward visibility, particularly to the front and sides as the regular car. The base seats are supportive and grippy, but don’t expect the buckets from the two-door BRZ sports car here. These are certainly wider, less aggressive, and more comfortable for long trips. Daresay, more mature perches. The optional leather seats feel even more grown up and comfortable, and further away from the rally heritage of the car.
The cabin is a mix of materials, and you can tell the development money went into the go-fast bits. Aside from a flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a few soft-touch materials, the interior is constructed of a lot of hard plastic. A 4.3-inch multifunction display sits high in the center of the dash and can be toggled to display a variety of performance data, as well as infotainment content. Unfortunately, this is the biggest letdown in the car, as it’s saddled with the same convoluted touch-screen high-end radio as in the BRZ, while the basic radio makes it a challenge to pair a phone via Bluetooth. Subaru needs to play catch up in the audio and connectivity department.
Too bad the practical hatchback didn't make the cut to the WRX team this time. Pricing will be announced in mid-February, and the car should arrive at dealerships by May.
Enjoy the video below of our testers having a bit of fun in the snow.