2014 Subaru WRX review

By: Greg Leech

Presented by

Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX

The new Rex comes with bags of fruit for no extra coin, but can it be all things to all people?

2014 Subaru WRX review
Driven: 2014 Subaru WRX

 

2014 Subaru WRX

Subaru’s wild WRX hit Aussie shores in March 1994 to pretty loud howls of "what the hell?". After all, here was a turbocharged boxer-four with all-wheel drive, costing $39,990, that looked about as dangerous as a pound of butter in a heatwave. Talk about mixed signals. Indeed, Subaru knew this car was special but it was also acutely aware that it better prove it, and then some.

Three World Rally Championships and 10 consecutive Australian Rally Championships did that, in a big fashion. In pretty short shrift, the WRX placed itself at the very top of the tree as the thinking man’s sporty. It was fast, pretty reliable and somehow dodged the cringe that beset some markets when it comes to Japanese offerings. It was then (and still is) damned cool.

Aussie Subaru boss Nick Senior reckons that the WRX is a "Sports car that you can live with 24/7." And there are a lot of Aussies doing just that.

"Australia is the third biggest market worldwide for WRX and we have sold more than 37,600 since 1994, so it has massive appeal in this market, where it established the so-called pocket-rocket category," says Senior.

200 units per month are expected to be sold, up from the 150 WRXs per month that happily blasted out of Subi showrooms in 2013.

Helping that cause is the aggressive pricing policy for the newest Rex. The 2014 offering is amazing value for money at $38,990 (MLP). That’s a grand cheaper than last year’s entry level model.

The Range-topper (Premium) will set you back 5K more and the paddle-shift Sport Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission is available for both levels for an extra $2000. The full manual is now a six-speeder.

The new engine is a 2.0-litre DOHC, horizontally-opposed FA-Series direct injection turbocharged unit, also adapted for the latest Forester XT.

It’s good for 197kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm between 2400-5200rpm and is 11.5 per cent more fuel efficient and produces 13.8 per cent less carbon dioxide than the superseded 2.5-litre unit.

The car has undergone rigorous safety testing to make its ANCAP rating of 35.85 out of a possible 37, which makes it the highest ranking Subaru yet. Subaru is very keen to push this aspect, maybe hoping the soccer-mum trade could latch onto the spanking new Rex.

Inside the car is more comfortable than its predecessor with soft-touch surfaces where there used to be hard plastic. Subaru reckons it is after conquest markets for the car and this will appeal to those looking for a bit more user-friendliness.

A Multi-Function Display (MFD) debuts in the upper centre of the instrument panel, providing a wide variety of colour information for the driver.

The Range-topping WRX ‘Premium’ features an audio system with Harman Kardon® amplifier and nine speakers, including subwoofer; plus integrated factory-fitted satellite navigation screen.

While inside the car might be a little less-sporty, Subaru’s doctrine of ‘All 4 the Driver’ is still there. The car has stiffer suspension, and bigger brake rotors with greater fade resistance.

The car is delightfully balanced when having a dip and the CVT version is surprisingly competent in push-on mode. Of course, our pick is the six-speed, but Subaru reckons up to 50 per cent of likely purchasers will opt for the CVT version.

So… Faster and better-equipped, the new Rex has the goods to keep it at the top of the ‘boy-racer’ tree.

Will it appeal as Subaru wants, to a new, less-sports-oriented buyer? A big call we reckon, but time will tell.

 

THE NEW WRX ENGINE AT A GLANCE

• Stronger valve springs, compared to the Forester XT FA engine.
• 25 per cent improvement in manual transmission version to 6700rpm redline (6500 Sport CVT).
• Longer chain guide versus the Forester FA engine.
• AVCS – expanded operation angle: enhances output and fuel efficiency.
• Turbo mounted immediately under engine.
• Emission and throttle response improvement.
• Lighter-weight exhaust system.
• Adoption of roller rockers for valve actuation.


 

SPECIFICATIONS

2014 Subaru WRX

Body: 4-door sedan
Engine: 1998cc flat 4-cyl, DOHC, 16v, turbocharged
Power: 197kW @ 5600rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 2400-5200rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/CVT auto
Suspension: MacPherson struts. coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: ventilated discs (f)/ solid disc (r), ABS, EBD
Weight: 1424kg (kerb)
Price: $38,990 (Base)

 

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