The WRX is no longer the uncouth child of the Subaru performance line-up, and while it’s still more than adequately endowed with turbocharged performance and all-wheel-drive agility, there’s a greater maturity and sophistication in this sports sedan.
Unlike the hardcore WRX STi with its enormous bonnet scoop, huge rear spoiler and 19-inch alloys, the WRX Premium is more subtle, a sleeper almost, with only the red painted brake calipers hiding behind the 18s giving a hint of the potential within.
For 2018 the WRX has been mildly facelifted with a new grille, front bumper and headlight design. Subaru has added adaptive technology to the headlamps which now move in tandem with the steering wheel. Leather upholstery, climate air, Bluetooth audio and telephony, GPS navigation, an electric parking brake with auto hold function and heated door mirrors are all standard features in the 2018 WRX Premium.
While the old school purists might feel that a CVT in a WRX is sacrilege, it’s actually not silly because it arguably provides a more enjoyable driving experience day to day, thanks to Subaru’s SI Drive System, and it is also more frugal. The WRX Premium with the CVT is only 0.3 seconds slower in the sprint to 100km/h than its six-speed manual sibling, yet it is thriftier, with a combined consumption figure of 8.6L/100km versus 9.2L/100km.
The SI Drive system offers WRX driver’s the choice of Intelligent mode (I) for optimised fuel efficiency and stop/start urban driving, Sport mode (S) for better throttle response during everyday driving, and Sport Sharp mode (S#) unleashes the maximum power and response from the 197kW turbocharged engine.
Couple this powertrain with all-wheel-drive and a firm but not overly harsh suspension set-up and you have the makings of a very enjoyable and well appointed executive express for commuting through the urban jungle as well as tackling a winding rural back road. Another smart reason for choosing the WRX with the auto is that it receives Subaru’s Eyesight safety camera system, one of the better driver assistance packages we have encountered, particularly the lane keep assist alert and the forward collision warning alert. The 10-way powered driver’s seat with memory is not only comfortable and supportive to sit in for long journeys, it’s also heated which is appreciated during early chilly morning starts. The WRX Premium offers excellent ergonomics with controls that are intuitive and easily used, a tilt and slide glass sunroof should you feel the need to view the stars, and it’s a quiet and comfortable motorway hauler with a handy active cruise control system.
As an all-round package of performance, safety, luxury, and amenity for $56k the WRX Premium SLT ticks all the boxes that elude much of the European competition.
|Subaru WRX Premium SLT
|1995cc, F4, T,DI, 197kW/350Nm
|CVT, all-wheel drive