2018 Subaru WRX – Review
All-Wheel Drive Stalwart Rolls On
In one form or another, the Subaru WRX has been around since 1992 (since 2001 in the US) which means it’s actually got some history now. There really aren’t too many compact, AWD sedans/hatchbacks, especially on our shores. That’s why it’s garnered an almost cult following over the years. Rally enthusiasts have given the model a staying power, propelled by their enthusiasm for its boxer 4-cylinder turbo and always-available manual transmission. While not as extreme as the WRX STi version, the standard WRX does a nice job of striking a balance between the standard Impreza and the wilder bigger brother.
It’s really the combination of AWD and manual transmission, a homage to the World-Rally Championship heritage of the model, that keeps buyers coming back. In fact, WRX stands for ‘World Rally eXperimental,’ memorializing the connection between the brand’s longtime involvement in Rally racing and commitment to performance. This current model 2018 Subaru WRX is a real refinement of that original idea in a somewhat-tired wrapper at this point.
Design-wise, the WRX has always had a similar theme, and the current one has some small refinements. Subaru constantly changes its designs, probably more than any other company, sometimes tweaking several small things each model year. Over the years, the WRX has become softer and more understated in design, and that’s a good thing. It strikes a handsome profile, with very clean lines and deliberate intent. The slightly-flared fenders and more-aggressive fascias are a giveaway that this is the mid-grade WRX.
Hopping inside, the Recaro seats with their red trim are another nod to the extra performance you can expect from the 2.0-Liter turbocharged engine. With 268hp, there’s lots of motivation available for your right foot. It’s down a little on torque, but if you keep it up in the boost this thing is quite quick. Very welcome is the optional 6-Speed manual transmission. With so many companies ditching their manual versions, it’s nice to know Subaru is committed to keep one. It really does wake up the driving experience of the WRX, as we’ve tried them both.
Getting into a curvy road is what this car is all about, and this version didn’t disappoint. The tires are a bit of a compromise, having a more all-season bias rather than all-out summer performance, but remembering the AWD reminds you that these tires will be better in all conditions. Almost more enjoyable in the snow/rain, the tires definitely suit the car.
Inside, the materials are a bit of a mixed bag. You can see the humble origins of the car in some of the panels, but the seats, steering wheel and some of the trims make up for it. The control systems definitely feel dated, and there’s a wide range of button styles/types in a wide range of locations, making ease of use a little less than perfect. These compromises do come with the benefit of very-affordable pricing, as you can get a Premium trim 6-Speed for around $26k, a real-performance car bargain.
Buyers of a WRX aren’t necessarily looking for the latest technology, or the prettiest interior. They want the all-weather performance, rugged good looks and value. And this latest WRX is the prettiest by far, both inside and out. Well, there are probably some bug-eye fans out there who would disagree, but overall this is a car we’re glad you can buy. Keep it up, Subaru!