2015 to Present: Subaru WRX
While earlier Subaru Impreza models included the WRX as a performance variant, the current Subaru WRX and WRX STI stand apart as a separate model line.
With this separation, Subaru made changes to distinguish the WRX as a standalone model, including a unique front clip, hood, side skirts and a rear diffuser with quad exhaust tips. The WRX STI is a bit more extreme with unique 18-inch wheels and a massive rear wing.
At first glance, the WRX’s interior is similar to what you might find in a standard Impreza, with a simple dash design and controls within easy reach. Still, the WRX features unique touches that include red contrast stitching, a thick, flat-bottom steering wheel and front sport seats.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional.
The Subaru WRX STI uses a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered with this model. The WRX STI also adds front and rear limited-slip differentials, Brembo brakes, firmer suspension tuning and a center differential with selectable drive modes.
The WRX comes standard with automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, HD Radio and a rearview camera. Available features include heated front seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a sunroof, navigation, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon audio system.
Changes for the 2016 model year include the introduction of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system as standard equipment and the availability of Subaru’s EyeSight safety system.
The sport compact segment is a smaller one, but the WRX and WRX STI have some worthy competitors within the class. These include models like the Ford Focus ST, Mini Cooper S and John Cooper Works, and the Volkswagen GTI and Golf R.
Earlier Subaru WRX Models
The Subaru Impreza WRX was first introduced as a 2002 model when the Impreza went under a complete redesign. The WRX looked like the standard Impreza for the most part, with the main differences being a functional hood scoop and a rear wing. Subaru offered the Impreza WRX in sedan and wagon body styles.
Power comes from turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 227 horsepower. All-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission are standard.
Changes for the Impreza WRX started in 2004, when the Impreza lineup gained new front and rear fascias. Subaru also added a set of new sport seats and a revised gauge cluster. That year also saw the introduction of the Impreza WRX STI. This version brought even more enhancements to the Impreza platform, with a six-speed manual transmission and a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower. On the outside, the WRX STI distinguishes itself with a massive rear wing and the option of gold BBS wheels.
New alloy wheels and automatic climate control became standard for the 2005 WRX, and both models received updated styling for 2006. The Impreza WRX also gained a 230-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter engine for the 2006 model year.
In 2008, Subaru introduced the next generation Impreza, and the Impreza WRX and WRX STI were both present at launch. Available in sedan or hatchback body styles, the redesigned WRX retained the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine from the outgoing model. Power dropped slightly 224 horsepower in the Impreza WRX, while STI models got a slight bump in output to 305 horsepower. A five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic are available with the WRX, while a six-speed manual is the only transmission available with the WRX STI.
Engine output improved for the 2009 model year, with the WRX’s 2.5-liter engine now offering 265 horsepower. The automatic transmission option was dropped, and Subaru improved the suspension to address complaints that the WRX had gone a bit soft.
For 2010, the WRX gained a Limited trim that adds features like leather upholstery, a sunroof and satellite radio. A year later, the WRX received some exterior styling cues from the STI model, including updated front and rear fascias, different wheels and quad exhaust tips. The WRX STI was also offered as a sedan for the 2011 model year.