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Old 09-05-2007, 09:24 PM   #1
flyinpig
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Default Road & Track's Road Test of WRX (Oct 07)

http://www.roadandtrack.com/article....rticle_id=5885
Quote:
2008 Subaru Impreza WRX
Subaru made the new Impreza kinder and gentler. So where does that leave the WRX?

By Mike Monticello Photos by Guy Spangenberg
October 2007


When Subaru unleashed its World Rally Championship-inspired Impreza WRX on the U.S. market in 2001, we were struck. Struck by its zippy turbo power, race-car-like sport seats and playful all-wheel-drive handling. Sure, it had a fair amount of turbo lag (largely cured when Subaru upgraded the WRX from the original 2.0-liter flat-4 to a 2.5-liter version in 2006), but when the turbo "came on," it came on strong. And the car was an absolute blast to drive.

For 2008, Subaru has given the world an all-new WRX with a more comfortable ride, a new interior and even an all-new 5-door body style (replacing the previous wagon) along with a 4-door sedan, both swathed with new bodywork. Subaru openly admits one of its main goals for this car is to appeal to more people, especially women WRX buyers have been predominantly male. But we tend to get scared when a company talks in terms of "appealing to more people..." Sometimes that can mean disaster for enthusiasts.

The WRX's body is not just new in shape, but also in design; Subaru claims the 5-door is 100 lb. lighter than the old car, the sedan 50 lb. lighter. A good portion of this weight savings stems from the use of high-tensile steel at key structural points of the body-in-white. The WRX's new body sits on an all-new platform that allows the engine to be mounted lower for an improved center of gravity, while the rear incorporates a new double-wishbone suspension.

The wheelbase has been increased by 3.7 in. to give both a better ride and increased interior space. And there is no doubt the WRX's ride is far improved, or that less road noise creeps into the cabin. Using Bridgestone Potenza RE92A tires similar to those on the previous-generation car we tested in our May 2001 issue (though 17-inchers now come standard on all WRXs), the new WRX has a bit less grip around the skidpad 0.83g for the new car vs. 0.84g but is 3.8 mph quicker snaking around the slalom cones. Out on the road the car feels noticeably softer, with an annoying amount of understeer. And despite new steering gear, the steering feels lighter and less precise than before.

A new feature on the '08 WRX is standard Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), which incorporates both yaw and traction control; previously, this wasn't even optional. In normal driving you'll never notice it, but wick the pace up and you'll be thankful there is an off button. As we said, the WRX's normal handling state is understeer, but it can be coerced into rotating the rear end much like the original car by provoking the chassis on corner entry with some drop-throttle. The WRX is still fun on a back road, allowing you to slide the tail around in moderate doses, the all-wheel drive there to help reel in most mistakes you might make. But the car's softness and lack of precision put it further down on our list of favorites for attacking back roads, despite the new rear suspension doing a better job of holding tires to pavement.

Although the power output of the 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder is unchanged, Subaru has given the engine a broader torque curve. It now makes 224 bhp at 5200 rpm (400 rpm lower) and 226 lb.-ft. of torque at 2800 rpm (a whopping 800 rpm lower). It's also quieter, losing some of its signature flat-4 loping sound along the way.

The goal was to make the engine's powerband more linear, and for sure, mission accomplished. Turbo lag truly is minimal and the engine feels smoother, but the downside is that the car has lost its old kick-in-the-pants turbo rush. As with the Mazdaspeed3, power drops off well below redline, giving little reason to rev the engine much beyond 5000 rpm, though admittedly the WRX doesn't fall anywhere near as flat as the Mazda. On the plus side, the WRX's 5-speed manual has been modified for smoother shifts.

Subaru told us the new WRX would post similar acceleration numbers to the old car's, and they were right. The new WRX's 5.7-second sprint to 60 is identical to that of the 2.0-liter WRX we tested for the May 2001 issue; ditto the 14.4-sec. quarter-mile time. Which means the WRX is still a quick car. It just hasn't gained any speed in the last six years.

One of the sore points for potential WRX buyers in the past was an interior not quite up to German or most Japanese competitors. The redesign addresses the situation with a more upmarket treatment, especially in the way the dashboard flows into the center stack. It's not going to revolutionize the way you think of Subarus, but in terms of the quality of materials it's definitely a step in the right direction.

The one thing we truly miss are the original car's excellent sport seats, replaced by ones that are admittedly more comfortable but don't even try to look sporty, let alone hold you firmly in place during hard cornering. On the other hand, the easy-on-the-eyes electroluminescent gauges feature a large tachometer that, in true sporting fashion, is dead straight ahead, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel looks and feels far better than the original Momo.

Okay, so the new WRX (which will be on sale by the time you read this, starting at around $24,850 for the 5-door) is smoother, quieter and has a better ride than yet performs at least equally as well as the previous car. On this, we've got to say, "Job well done, Subaru."

So why aren't we as jazzed about the new WRX? Character. The original had it; this one has much less. We miss the turbo punch, the loping flat-4 sound, the all-encompassing sport seats and the bulbous fenders that screamed "rally car." While the new WRX is easier to drive on a daily basis, the fact that it gives less feedback to the driver, while at the same time requiring less from him, decreases its value as a pure driving machine. Basically, it's lost some of its WRX-ness in an attempt to broaden its appeal to more people.

Subaru isn't the only manufacturer taking this route: Word on the street is that Mitsubishi's new Lancer Evolution X will tempt the same fate.

Does this make the WRX a bad car? Absolutely not. Subaru will probably sell a lot more of them because of its newfound friendliness just not to hardcore enthusiasts. They'll have to wait for the all-new STI coming early next year.
Data Panel: http://www.roadandtrack.com/assets/d...Subaru_WRX.pdf
0-60mph - 5.7 sec
1/4 mi - 14.4 @ 94.4mph
Top speed - 140mph (electronically ltd)
Skidpad - 0.83g
Slalom 66.6mph

Test Notes: Braking

The brakes were easy to modulate with decent feedback and a good feel at the lock-up point. Stopping distances were average but like most street cars, more an indication of tire performance than anything else.

Test Notes: Handling
The WRX retains a playful demeanor that allows you to fling the tail around through the slalom even though it has awd. Body roll feels a bit excessive and the suspension seems to favor road compliance over sportiness.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:34 PM   #2
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Glad they are starting to talk about the seats. Things went downhill from the bugeyes REAL fast in that department.

I'm sure the car driver fine, albeit a littel soft...just can't get used to the hatch...I'm a sedan fan though.
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Old 09-05-2007, 11:21 PM   #3
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Just read the article in the bathroom, and the more I see the hatchback, the more I like it. WR Blue please
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:03 AM   #4
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I still want to see what the aftermarket has in store for the new suspension?

And they were right about the seats. I'm sad to agree, there's nothing sporty about them. Especially compared to my bugeye.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:15 AM   #5
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They keep mentioning that the hatch is 100lbs lighter than the old WRX and 50lbs lighter than the current sedan. So does that put the hatch at 3050-ish?

I don't think the hood is aluminum anymore, so there might actually be additional weight savings to be had with an aftermarket hood. Add a C/F driveshaft, lightweight rotors, a bit lighter flywheel, lightweight battery, MUCH better springs/sways, and this car could turn out to be pretty peppy - even before modding the engine. It's probably not a huge stretch to get the hatch version to 2920-2950lbs, not too mention the effects of lighter rotating mass (i.e. c/f ds, f/w, etc.)

Hopefully, they can keep the new STi's weight down a bit. It would be nice to see an aluminum hood and roof (doubtful.)

Edit:

I just noticed that the weight distribution isn't too bad either, especially when you drop all that additional weight upfront (battery, hood, etc) Obviously, the stock tires are really holding it back, not to mention the seemingly softer suspension setup.

Last edited by Digitalfiend; 09-06-2007 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digitalfiend View Post
They keep mentioning that the hatch is 100lbs lighter than the old WRX and 50lbs lighter than the current sedan. So does that put the hatch at 3050-ish?
I believe they mean this:

08 Hatch = 100lbs less than 07 Hatch

08 Sedan = 50lbs lighter than 07 Sedan
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
So why aren't we as jazzed about the new WRX? Character. The original had it; this one has much less. We miss the turbo punch, the loping flat-4 sound, the all-encompassing sport seats and the bulbous fenders that screamed "rally car." While the new WRX is easier to drive on a daily basis, the fact that it gives less feedback to the driver, while at the same time requiring less from him, decreases its value as a pure driving machine. Basically, it's lost some of its WRX-ness in an attempt to broaden its appeal to more people.
I thought this was an interesting point. So they dialed down character and the fun-to-drive factor too, I still have my doubts whether that will be a successful strategy for going mainstream. Unless someone really needs or wants AWD, I'm not feeling much wow-factor for prospective buyers.

I think if they hit a home-run with the styling for example, that would've made a huge difference.
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superglue WRX View Post
I believe they mean this:

08 Hatch = 100lbs less than 07 Wagon

08 Sedan = 50lbs lighter than 07 Sedan
Fixed
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kostamojen View Post
Fixed
You can't say hatch on an Impreza forum!

Hatch

Hatch

Hatch

Hatch

Hatch

Hatch
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:57 AM   #10
ripvw
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"And despite new steering gear, the steering feels lighter and less precise than before."

how very disappointing. if the new STI does not improve upon this, then I already own my last Subaru...
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Old 09-06-2007, 03:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superglue WRX View Post
I believe they mean this:

08 Hatch = 100lbs less than 07 Hatch

08 Sedan = 50lbs lighter than 07 Sedan
Ah poop. Subaru Canada lists the weight as 3142lbs. Not too bad I guess...
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:41 AM   #12
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This road test like all of the others so far is just more evidence that the car SOA calls the 2008 WRX is actually the 2008 S-GT. WRX is just a model name and the car we previously knew as the WRX is no more. So we should just get over it. For people that want WRX character in a 2008, either mod up an S-GT to WRX level with suspension, brakes and engine tuning or wait for the STI.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:27 AM   #13
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So.. you don't mind an S-GT (or "Grand Touring") car being better handling then the WRX? That's mighty big of you.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:35 AM   #14
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I find it hard to believe that this car, with a stiffer suspension would handle worse.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaverboy View Post
So.. you don't mind an S-GT (or "Grand Touring") car being better handling then the WRX? That's mighty big of you.
"Better handling" does not always equate with "fun to drive," and the new Impreza/WRX is a prime example of such.
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:37 PM   #16
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02 WRX sedan 3085
07 WRX sedan 3192
07 WRX sedan ltd 3239

02 WRX wagon 3165
07 WRX wagon 3252
07 WRX wagon ltd 3294

08 WRX 3142

Oddly enough they are listing the same weight for both sedan and hatch. It is a 100lbs lighter than the 07 wagon and 50lbs lighter than the 07 sedan, I would think the new hatch would be lighter than the sedan, but I've been wrong before.

Apperantly unless you've got some scales and both cars we'll never know.
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sotti View Post
Apperantly unless you've got some scales and both cars we'll never know.
I can't tell form looking at the service manual if they just copy/pasted the sedan info onto the 5-door info or if thats actually all accurate... But it is a very thorough list.

My guess is that SOA may update that document, that or we have to wait for next years service manuals.
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