Subaru WRX. Click for more photos

New Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX.

The iconic Subaru WRX is cheaper than ever before, as the all-new fourth-generation pocket rocket arrives in showrooms this week priced from $38,990.

That’s the cheapest the all-wheel drive performance car has been in its 20-year history, despite the new model featuring a much longer list of standard equipment, a more powerful engine and extensive improvements in safety and economy.

Like the original – but a departure from the last two generations – the new WRX will only be available as a sedan in two levels of trim and with a choice of a six-speed manual or, for the first time in a decade, an automatic gearbox. It is however not a conventional self-shifter, but a continuously variable transmission.

Even though the WRX now faces a broader range of rivals – from hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS and even within its own family with the BRZ sports coupe and its Toyota 86 twin – Subaru believes it still has the potential to build on the WRX’s position in Australia.

“Australia is the third biggest market worldwide for WRX and we have sold more than 37,600 since 1994, so it has massive appeal in this market, where it established the so-called pocket-rocket category,” said Subaru Australia’s managing director, Nick Senior.

“While many have challenge, WRX remains a constant sales success and this new version retains that ‘bang for your buck’ essence.”

Underpinning the new WRX is an all-new platform that is longer and wider – and more rigid - than its predecessor, with the wheelbase having been stretched by 25mm for greater interior space. The boot space has also been improved by 40L, up to 460L.

The suspension retains the same McPherson front strut and double-wishbone rear set-up, but has undergone a major overhaul with stiffer spring rates (up 39 percent and 62 percent front and rear respectively), larger anti-roll bars and more rigid bushes for improved lateral stiffness. The electric power steering has also been quickened for greater response and the all-wheel drive transmission now features a torque-vectoring system that applies the brakes to the inner front wheel to distribute torque across the axle for sharper handling.

Driving all four wheels is an upgraded version of the 2.0-litre turbo charged horizontally-opposed four cylinder that was first introduced in the latest-generation Forester XT compact SUV. Even though it loses half a litre in capacity to the previous WRX, it picks up new technologies such as direct injection cylinder heads and a twin-scroll turbo charger to produce marginally more power - 197kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm between 2400-5200rpm – and lower the fuel consumption figure by 11.5 percent to a claimed 9.2L/100km for the manual and 8.0L/100km for the CVT.

Both gearboxes are new for the regular WRX and feature slightly different all-wheel drive systems; the manual having a viscous limited slip centre differential while the CVT, which has an eight-speed manual mode with paddle shifters, has a rear-biased variable torque distribution system.

All variants of the WRX ride on 17-inch alloy wheels, feature five-star safety rating with seven airbags, sport seats, body kit, climate control air conditioning, Bluetooth audio/phone streaming and a 4.3-inch colour multi function screen that displays a variety of data including a digital turbo boost gauge.

The WRX Premium, which costs $43,990 in manual form, adds dusk-sensing LED headlights, sunroof, leather trim, eight-way power adjustable drivers seat, push-button start and smart key entry, rain-sensing wipers and an upgraded audio system with a Harmon Kardon amplifier, eight speakers and a sub woofer and with integrated satellite navigation.

The CVT automatic adds $2000 to the cost of the both variants.



2014 Subaru WRX: pricing and specifications

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo charged horizontally-opposed four cylinder

Power: 197kW at 5600rpm

Torque: 350Nm at 2400-5200rpm

Transmission: 6-spd manual/CVT, AWD

Consumption: 9.2L/100km (manual)/ 8.0L/100km (CVT)


Subaru WRX: $38,990 (manual)

Subaru WRX: $40,990 (CVT)

Subaru WRX Premium: $43,990 (manual)

Subaru WRX Premium: $45,990 (CVT)