Subaru Impreza WRX: Our Shed

By: John Wright

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Our shed: Wrighty reckons in bang for your buck terms, nothing came close to the 'Rex'...

Subaru Impreza WRX: Our Shed
Subaru Impreza WRX

 

Subaru Impreza WRX

A new performance blueprint and almost perfect...

No other hot-shot version of an ordinary car has so radically changed buyers’ expectations of performance as the Subaru Impreza WRX. Think of it another way. In 1967, the XR Falcon GT drove into the history books by winning the Bathurst 1000 by not all that much of a margin from a 1.6-litre Alfa Romeo coupe. Imagine if the 1994 event was still for series production cars and there was a price ceiling as in the 1960s and into the ’70s.

It was 1994 that the WRX began to re-educate me. I had just collected my Targa car for that year from the mechanic – a highly-tuned 2.0-litre Alfa 105-series GTV (same shape as the ’67 Bathurst cars). A friend followed me home in a WRX test car. Every time I went hard, there was this silly little jigger kissing my rear bumper. The Alfa could cut the 400 metres in 16 seconds flat. But the WRX was a second quicker, in an era when almost nothing got down to such a time.

Four years later, when I was a judge on MOTOR’s Performance Car of the Year, the WRX equalled a 911 through the 400m. On a wet road out of Omeo, the WRX just drove away from the Porsche.

The WRX has real-world performance. Styling and comfort were never even secondary concerns, and the earliest cars had army disposal-type seats.

On the MY99 variant, luxury is configured in white-faced gauges, rally-style front seats and dual front airbags. Those seats look great but try sitting in them on an interstate trip. Lumbar support? Must be a timber worker!

I have owned two MY99s, the first from almost new before I sold it in too much haste. The second I have had since January 2006. It did Targa Tasmania and Targa High Country in 2010. All-wheel drive was a game changer for me (after GTV6, 635 CSi, 105 and BX 16-Valve).

One of the many joys of the WRX is how easy it is to make it even faster. Mine has 206kW on Brett Middeleton’s dyno. You could call that Stage One.

In 2007, Tony Sullens/Julia Barkley drove their MY99 WRX to outright victory in Targa Tasmania. They had somewhat more than 206kW at the tarmac ...

And yet for all this brilliance, there’s something about the WRX that’s not lovable and that’s the steering. It is too light, too lacking in feel. As I write this, I am testing the Subaru BRZ. Now if my old car had the same steering as the BRZ, I would be head over heels in love with it instead of merely a devoted aficionado.

 
*****

 
More reviews:

 

> Buyer's Guide: Subaru WRX (1994-98) review here

> Driven: Subaru Impreza WRZ (2007) review here

 


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