Recently, I test drove the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX hatchback, which checks off many boxes on the “things I want in a car” list. The WRX has comfortable seats with plenty of room for taller folks, standard all-wheel drive and 19 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use. Oh yeah, and I guess I should mention that it’s fast.
With a turbocharged 265-horsepower four-cylinder engine under its hood, our colleagues over at Edmunds report that the WRX scoots from zero to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. That’s quicker than Porsche’s claim on the base Cayman, with two huge upsides. First, the WRX’s all-wheel drive means you can use it all year long.
The second perk (for me) is the WRX’s looks. It’s not attractive. In fact, if someone was trying to set you up on a date with the WRX, they’d probably tell you it has a great personality. However, generic hatchback styling means that most people, including your local law enforcement, probably aren’t aware of its performance capabilities, and I enjoy the fact that it blends into the background on streets crowded with four-door hatchbacks.
For 2011, Subaru tried to make the public a little more aware that the WRX is not your average Impreza. It now shares quad-exhaust tips and flared front and rear fender arches with the more performance-oriented WRX STI. Most WRX buyers will probably prefer the boy-racer styling, but I’m still partial to the 2010 model, which was harder to discern from the base Impreza.
Inside, there’s plenty of adult-friendly space, but two things really bother me: the outdated navigation system and the manual transmission’s rubbery feel. John Deere tractors probably have a transmission that’s easier to shift. Still, with the 2012 Impreza set to hit dealerships this fall, perhaps a more refined WRX is headed our way. Who knows? Maybe it will sport a twin-clutch gearbox that’s as smooth as Billy Dee Williams.