2017 Subaru WRX review with video

The basics:

Base price: $29,995 + taxes
As tested: $32,795 + taxes (Sport trim)
Average fuel economy during our road test: 8.5 L/100 kms (28 US MPG)
Competition: Ford Focus ST/RS, Mitsubishi Lancer, VW GTI, etc.

Since 1992, Subaru has been injecting its rally heritage into the WRX and dropping grin-inspiring goodness into a street legal, dare I say practical, package. And with a¬†more hardcore WRX STI variant available, the WRX has fallen into a really excellent middle ground. It doesn’t have to be a stiff-as-a-board, track-ready racer. It’s still a total riot to drive, don’t get me wrong, but the WRX is a more liveable car – much like the VW GTI can still have you giggling like a kid but isn’t as race-bred (or expensive) as the Golf R. But unlike the GTI, the hatchback option disappeared a couple years back in the WRX. It’s now only available as a sedan. So we take this latest generation rally car for a rip, under the speed limit of course, to see how it would do as a sporty family ride.

– The WRX has an amazing blend between performance and fuel economy (particularly on the highway) – Subaru says you should see 8.3 to 11.3 L/100 kms but we averaged 8.5 L/100 kms on a mix of city roads and highways
– The turbo note is very addictive in this car and the pull beyond 3,000 rpm is dramatic. Below that, this car is very tame, though. That means you can cruise in it quite comfortably (with excellent fuel economy) rather than always feeling like it’s tensed up and ready to pounce
– The suspension is stiff but not nearly as rough as the Focus RS or STI – both of which are unreasonably jarring for daily life
– Meanwhile, the WRX has great steering feel and handling – just beware of the 125 mm of ground clearance, which is roughly half of what you get in the Forester or Outback
– Just like those other Subaru offerings, though, the WRX has the company’s industry-leading all wheel drive system
– It’s great to have a 6 speed manual. The Crosstrek we were reviewing last week only has a five speed stick shift. Having that sixth gear offers lower revs at highway speeds which helps with cruising fuel economy and keeps cabin noise down (a little)
– The WRX has a driver-focused interior with performance seats on all trims that hug you well through the corners
– There’s also a nice balance between physical knobs and the infotainment touch screen. The result is a clean, uncluttered interior
– Second row comfort is surprisingly good for adult passengers and front facing car seats but our rear facing car seat made the front passenger seat pretty unusable
– The WRX also has a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. But Subaru’s amazing Eyesight safety system is not an option for 2017. There’s going to be a big refresh for the WRX in 2018 and I wouldn’t be surprised if these driver aids are offered in the coming year

– While I liked the two personalities of the WRX above and below 3,000 RPM, some might find it a bit sluggish off the line – compare this to the Focus RS we were driving a couple weeks back, and it has a more steady delivery of power. But it also has nearly 100 more horsepower and costs nearly $20,000 more. The WRX has pretty unbeatable value for a sport sedan
– Since it is a performance engine, Subaru says 91 octane fuel is recommended. At around twenty cents more per litre, that adds up fast
– The WRX has a very noisy ride: 70 db at 100 kms/h. The sport body moulding also picks up lots of gravel noise when going down a gravel road or even driving on a road with gravel put down by city crews for grip
– There are some cheaper feeling plastics in the interior when compared to the VW GTI and the leather wrapped steering wheel feels cheap in the hand
– The porous cloth seats in the base trim and Sport trim look cool but would be hard to keep clean. The top of the line Sport tech trim ($36,095 + tax) comes with leather
– The seats are also quite firm – which some are going to like and some aren’t. Take it for a long test drive to make sure you like them
– Trunk release functions are only on the key fob or the driver position. There’s no way to open the trunk on the trunk itself – which would get very annoying
– And while the 340 litre trunk capacity in the WRX is surprisingly spacious, I really miss the hatchback option in this car. Subaru Calgary supplied this test vehicle for us this week and staff say people in the west loved them, but the hatch just didn’t sell enough out east or in the USA for it to be viable. Too bad!

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 2.5/5 (70 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 4.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 37/50= 74%

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