What’s hot: Still one of the best: a terrific hi-performance drive
What’s not: A truly drab interior, and they're just about all gone
X-FACTOR: With the last of the last almost gone, and a new model in LA, it's now all about the size of the bargain
Vehicle style: Small Performance Sedan
Price: $44,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 195kW/343Nm 2.0 litre petrol | 6spd manual
Fuel consumption listed: 10.4 l/100km | tested: 11.9 l/100km
Yes, Subaru’s 2013 WRX is about to be replaced, and, while it's showing its age, there are still a few to be snapped up for bargain hunters looking for a cheap hi-po tarmac blaster.
As a last gasp for this model, Subaru two months back released a limited edition RS40 model - the ’40’ to recognise Subaru’s anniversary year.
Priced at $44,490 (plus on-roads), the WRX RS40 adds more than $7000 of dress-up features over the entry model.
Look hard, and you'll now find one for even less (like $45,400 drive-away)
True, in the past few years the WRX has been feeling the crush from hot boxes like the Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS 265, and Ford Focus ST. The new model, unveiled just yesterday in Los Angeles, won’t come a moment too soon.
The model it will replace – this one – is still a cracking drive, we love it, but it struggles to hide its now-evident shortcomings.
Beautifully built, but as drab as sackcloth. The wheel feels terrific, and the sports dials are nice and clear, but the plastics are way off the pace... and the dashboard and centre console almost qualify as awful.
That said, it’s a tight as a drum in here, it will last forever (but maybe that's not such a blessing). The seats, snug bum-hugging Recaros, are sensational.
On road, aside from the growl of the turbo boxer at work, it is surprisingly quiet.
WRX key interior features:
- Leather, multi-function steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth
- Climate control air-con; powered mirrors, steering and windows
- 60/40 split-fold rear seats
- 10-speaker audio with CD/MP3/WMA, iPod, USB, and Aux-in playback
WRX RS40 adds:
- Recaro seats with Alcantara inserts
- STI rear spoiler, STI front lip spoiler
- STI short shift gear assembly, STI flexible tower strut brace
- Blue mica paint and gold-coloured 17-inch WRX alloys, RS40 decals, Numbered RS40 internal badge
ON THE ROAD
With 195kW and 343Nm from its 2.5 litre turbo-charged boxer engine, the WRX RS40 can be launched to 100km/h in a far-from-shabby 5.3 seconds.
The story of this car is its sensational handling and superb chassis: doors, roof, seats and fittings are just frippery, accoutrements to the sled down below.
There are some shortcomings though: it needs a 6th gear. I found myself always looking for it and there is ample torque to support a higher final drive.
The clutch feel is still a bit vague, and the steering, though direct, is a little wooden.
Handling and ride though is terrific. It’s actually leaning to soft – it can wallow over hollows – but is firm enough to stay glued when cornering, while providing a surprisingly comfortable ride.
WRX key specifications:
- 2.5 litre boxer petrol turbo / 5spd manual transmission
- [email protected] / [email protected] / 5.3 seconds 0-100km/h
- AWD with centre differential with LSD
- Fuel consumption listed: 10.4 l/100km | tested: 11.9 l/100km
- Independent McPherson strut front / double wishbone independent rear
- Quick ratio power-assisted rack and pinion steering
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5-Stars
VERDICT | OVERALL
The WRX is a terrific driver’s car, full stop. It’s long in the tooth, and its interior is off the pace, but nothing alters the basic fact that this car is all about performance.
The RS40 is good buying - it's now history, but packs in some nice dress-up features for not too many more shekels.
It’s only available in sedan and, originally just a 300-unit release, there are not many left - most (that we found) offering even more savings.
You can probably twist a bit more blood out of your Subaru dealer for an extra-special deal right now, but you'll have to get in quick.