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Subaru WRX 2014 review: snapshot

EXPERT RATING
7
A new Subaru WRX is big news to a lot of people because the car has almost iconic status. Motor heads know what a "Rex" is and its reputation as a potent, safe, affordable, all-wheel-drive rocketship.

A new Subaru WRX is big news to a lot of people because the car has almost iconic status. Motor heads know what a "Rex" is and its reputation as a potent, safe, affordable, all-wheel-drive rocketship.

That good boy/bad boy reputation was enhanced a while back when the Rex was (stolen) vehicle of choice for shopfront busting ram-raid crims -- such that sales of the rumbling turbo-car went through the roof. But it's been 20 years since the first Rex and the formula has been refined through about half a dozen generations.

Price and Features

The price has, however, stayed pretty much the same and remains an incredibly affordable $38,990 for the entry level car and five grand more for the Harman Kardon, smart entry, leather-clad Premium.

Though past offerings were in hatch and sedan variants, the new model is a sedan only broadly following the original formula with sporty turbo engine and suspension upgrades in what is essentially a 'family' small car.

This time around the interior is up to an acceptable level moving away from hard "tupperware" and towards multiple fascia material. There's also generous standard equipment and new technology features as well as soft touch panels.

Design

It looks good from behind the wheel. But outside is fairly bland with strong whiff of Mitsubishi's Lancer at the front. The rest of the car looks like a mild revamp of the previous model with LED lights added for effect. They retained the quad exhaust and side vents but the 17-inch alloys make it look under-wheeled - skinny tyres too.

Powertrain

Apart from having a smaller capacity 2.0-litre engine, the new Rex ushers in an eight-step CVT 'auto' transmission (+$2000) aimed at broadening the customer base targeting women and city-oriented drivers along with 'conquest' sales from other marques.

The 2.0 boxer engine made an appearance a year or so back in Forester and features direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. The turbo is a twin-scroll unit helping the Rex achieve 197kW/350Nm outputs while sipping fuel at a best of 8.6-litres/100km in the CVT equipped models.

A close ratio six-speed manual replaces the previous five-speeder and the all wheel drive system goes through a viscous centre differential in a 50/50 split front to rear with a torque vectoring function.

Quick, electric steering, bigger brakes, flatter cornering, a rigid chassis and electronic systems all contribute to the way new Rex drives. It's only about 10kg heavier than the previous model. Special attention was paid to rear wheel grip and neutral handling.

Safety

It scores a strong five star crash rating boasting seven air bags and pedestrian safety measures along with some driver assist and electronic systems including the full suite of dynamic controls and a reversing camera.

Driving

We had a good old crack at the new Rex in Tassie on some Targa stages -- the perfect environment for such a car and we liked some of what we experienced. It has annoying turbo lag low down despite the twin-scroll system and you have to keep it percolating around the 4000rpm mark to get going quickly.

The gearbox is baulky in fifth and sixth with the wrong gear too easy to select. It has excellent ride characteristics -- not too hard – and capably soaks up poor road surfaces or undulations. The quick steering gives the driver a new measure of control compared with the previous model. It's great fun to punt through a set of switrchbacks.

The new Rex gets on the gas fairly well but we expected more. It doesn't feel like nearly 200kW until you get up into the higher rev range which peaks at a low 6500rpm. The CVT is OK despite reservations.

Driven hard, fuel consumption is up around 12.0 to15.0-litres/100km. You can cruise using as little as 8.0. It's comfortable over a long drive, has a large boot and plenty of room for four or five inside.

Verdict

Could struggle against lower priced front wheel drive hotrods. Styling is boring, wheels are too small it has lost much of the 'raw' feel of earlier generations. Good Tassie touring car though.

Pricing guides

$16,643
Based on 111 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$10,914
Highest Price
$19,995

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0i (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $9,800 – 14,740 2014 Subaru Impreza 2014 2.0i (AWD) Pricing and Specs
2.0i Luxury Limited Edition 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $11,000 – 16,170 2014 Subaru Impreza 2014 2.0i Luxury Limited Edition Pricing and Specs
2.0i-L (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $10,900 – 15,950 2014 Subaru Impreza 2014 2.0i-L (AWD) Pricing and Specs
2.0i-S (AWD) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $9,300 – 14,080 2014 Subaru Impreza 2014 2.0i-S (AWD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.