Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
Have you ever wondered why Subaru sells so many vehicles in Canada? The small Japanese automaker is currently celebrating their 18th consecutive record-breaking month as their sales have been skyrocketing since the introduction of the new Forester, Outback, and Legacy. In June of 2015 alone, they sold a total of 4,332 units, an increase of 22.5% from June of 2014. That’s insane. For such a small company to be delivering such staggering numbers, you’d start to wonder, what is their secret?
The fact of the matter is that Subaru actually builds good cars. They’re top of the ranks in IIHS crash tests, all-wheel drive comes standard (except the BRZ), their vehicles are extremely durable and reliable, and they hold their value for years whereas most other cars depreciate to half their value as soon as you step on the throttle. So what makes Subaru one of the top automotive leaders? We’re here to find out as we test the new 2016 Subaru WRX Sport Package.
There are a modest number of changes for the 2016 variant of the WRX. New colours like the Lapis Blue Pearl on our tester, door mirrors with LED-integrated turn signals, and new safety equipment like Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert bring it up to modern standards. The top of the line Sport-tech package also receives unique 18-inch wheels borrowed over from the previous generation WRX STI, an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen, and a revised suspension with inverted struts.
I like to think of the WRX as a grown-up’s STI. Despite costing less and having less power, it has all the racy bits where it counts – a gigantic hood scoop, quad exhausts out the rear, a tiny lip spoiler and a punchy turbo engine that doesn’t scream obnoxiously. This is a car that you can stroll around town with and not get sneered at for trying too hard. The deep luscious hue of Lapis Blue Pearl fits the bill too. It’s a new paint colour for the WRX, but not for the Subaru lineup: it was on our Legacy test vehicle last year. It’s rich, and subtle.
Now if we didn’t know any better, we would have easily mistaken the WRX as an STI. The main giveaway for the latter is the colossal winged spoiler. While some find solace in calling the new WRX ugly and a deviation from the old Imprezas of the past, I approve of the new tailored body and assertive stance: meaner, more mature, and less boy racer. 5-door hatch lovers will be heartbroken to hear that the WRX comes exclusively as a four-door sedan. Though, the turbo-less Impreza can still be had in hatchback guise.
The flat-bottom steering wheel feels good in your hands and it’s grippy and littered with a host of audio and display controls. Speaking of which, the displays are very high definition but there is a bit of redundancy with the top and bottom screens on the dashboard. Do I find having two screens useful? Somewhat, but it takes some learning to get accustomed to which screen gives you what information. I also find it hard to nitpick when all my attention is focused on that real-time digital boost gauge.
If you find yourself lost in Narnia, I hope you have data on your phone because GPS and navigation only comes on the Sport-tech model, not on the Sport Package. Luckily, visibility is good all around the car thanks to thin A-pillars and huge windows, so you can’t blame the car for blocking that street sign you missed. On the other hand, the cabin is a decibel louder than I would have preferred and the suspension borders on being too stiff. Road noise dives into the crevices but truth be told, the WRX was never meant to caress your buttocks and ears, it was meant to be driven.
Which brings me to my next point and subsequently the main reason why Subarus are such big sellers, and that’s the magnificent engine and chassis combination. Carried over from 2015 is the WRX’s direct injection twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-litre BOXER four engine. Delivering 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the WRX’s numbers certainly aren’t bewildering. It’s not as rev-happy as the STI’s 2.5-litre BOXER engine either, but trust me when I say that the Rex is still lose-your-license fast – 0-100km/h comes in a respectable 5.9 seconds.
Power comes early and the meatiest hints of torque can be found starting at 3,000 rpm. When the turbo spools up and the boxer starts jabbing, hold on tight because a tidal wave of boost is headed your way. You can distinctively hear the whooshes, spools, and blow-off valves working overtime even with the windows rolled up. As you punch and play around the golden area of the rev range – between 2,500 and 5,000 rpm – the WRX will not disappoint. There’s a noticeable amount of lag off idle and the 2.0-litre engine isn’t as vocal as the STI’s, but it revs out nicely with enough performance to substitute for your morning coffee.
Yet, one of the best features of a Subaru is how the wealth of power gets evenly distributed to all four wheels, giving it distinct advantages over front-wheel drive vehicles it competes with. All-wheel drive comes standard too, so you won’t have to fork over a few extra grand for that invisible shield of confidence. If you handed me a scorecard, Subaru’s steering feel would hammer down a solid 10/10. Thanks to the flat-four’s tight packaging and low center of gravity, the WRX delivers admirable balance in the corners with a responsive steering rack and road-hugging characteristics.
The stiff suspension is a minor tradeoff for the nimble ride that it provides. The ride isn’t taxing but you’ll certainly notice more bumps on the road than say, your BMW or Audi. We also have those sticky Dunlops to praise: there is so much grip on the tarmac that you could fling the WRX around corners at speeds you would never consider in a regular RWD vehicle. Dry roads don’t seem to do the WRX any justice either, and as I am writing this article while basking in the summer heat, I find myself wishing for snow and slushy roads to open up the Subie’s true capabilities.
As car enthusiasts, our preferred form of stick is the manual transmission. As one would have hoped, it comes standard on the WRX in the form of a six-speed. But if you don’t fancy rowing your own gears, you can spend an extra $1,300 for a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). We haven’t had the opportunity to test the CVT but we've only heard good things from our colleagues.
I like my shifters to be short and sweet but the WRX’s manual is a bit notchy and there’s too much travel between the gears. However, the gates are well defined and easy to navigate through, and punching it in feels rewarding. The pedals are also perfectly positioned for heel-toe shifts. The clutch is easy, manipulative, and not as hard and unforgiving as the one in the STI. It’s a breeze to drive whether it smoothly or at full throttle, and gear engagement won’t punish you with heavy lurches for switching in the wrong RPM range.
The WRX’s fuel economy was quite a stunner. Subaru’s official numbers are 11.3 L/100km in the city, 8.4 L/100km highway, and 10.0 L/100km averaged out. We got 11.2, 6.9, and 10.3 L/100km, respectively. Pretty good for an all-wheel drive vehicle with a turbo.
There’s a quantifiable reason as to why Subarus are selling like hotcakes in Canada, and the WRX is a paragon example of the company’s dedication to engineering. The WRX is a refined vehicle that certainly lives up to its motorsport pedigree. It comes with AWD, an improved interior, it has great handling, and comes with just the right amount of road presence. With a huge trunk and enough room to comfortably seat four of your buddies, the WRX also proves that it can be an everyday family hauler but with a hint of attitude. All this for under $30,000? That’s quite a steal. In fact, most Subaru models hit that sweet spot between $20,000 and $40,000 – the prime area to attract new car buyers and enthusiasts alike. No wonder why those curves on Subaru's sales graphs are shooting sky high – these are cars that you can live with day in and day out, with no regrets or complaints.
型号 Model: 2016 Subaru WRX Sport Package
顏色 Paint Type: Lapis Blue Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,795
試車售價 Price as Tested: $32,795
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,650
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,595 / 2,053 / 1,475
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,543
引擎 Engine: 2.0L DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder BOXER engine with twin-scroll turbocharger
最大馬力 Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2,000 - 5,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut with aluminum lower suspension arm with pillow ball mounts and bushings
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double wishbone
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented discs (315 x 24mm), dual-piston calipers
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid discs (286 x 10mm) single-piston calipers
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.3 / 8.4 / 10.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT - 235/45 R17