2016 Subaru WRXSep 5th, 2015
Driving Subaru’s iconic performance sedan on my regular city work commutes for five days was both frustrating and, at times, torturous.
Why? Because this is a vehicle that wants to be driven — hard — and I’m certain that if my blue Boxer could’ve turned human for a few seconds, he’d have punched my lights out for being such a granny shifting, soft throttler.
And while I did have some fun alone time on one of my quiet test roads, there was no real opportunity to truly appreciate its precise handling and the masterful Subaru symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that has made the WRX one of the most respected, affordable performance sedans on the planet.
My tester’s 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine, which made 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, provided a gratifying growl through its quad-tipped, high-performance exhaust pipes each time it was ignited and it repeatedly pushed me back into my seat as I worked its delightful six-speed manual transmission up through the first few gears.
On my one long-ish highway trek, the WRX performed admirably in all situations, whether making a quick lane change, passing on an incline, or just cruising along as its 235/45 R17 94W Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT tires gripped the pavement.
A family hauler? Yes.
If you’re not 20-something anymore and you’re doing that family thing, there are plenty of comforts inside the WRX that make it not only a cool, comfortable daily commuter, but also a great family-of-four hauler that’d be more than up to the task of a long summer road trip.
We didn’t do that (the road trip), but I did make a jaunt to New Glasgow last weekend to pick up my kids who were delivered there from Cape Breton by their grandparents who kidnapped them for a week.
On the way back to Dartmouth the kids seemed to appreciate the room they had in the rear, with one even commenting on how high they sat and how cushiony the seats were.
Seated back there, I, at 5-11, had decent knee room and loads of head room.
The rear door openings are not that wide, so larger folks might have to perform a few special moves on the way in; the assist handles helped on the way out.
Yes, your grandma will probably take you out of her will if you put her back there for any amount of time.
She may do the same if you sit her up front in the well-bolstered passenger seat as you drove the WRX the way it was meant to be driven.
Driver focused cockpit
The cockpit of the WRX is driver focused. I liked the look and feel of the three-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel; it was leather wrapped with red stitching, had tilt and telescopic movement, and easy-to-work controls for audio, cruise and vehicle information/settings. I liked the location of the vehicle info/settings buttons on the rear, lower left side of the wheel; they were simple to reach and work with my fingers.
The ‘impact-absorbing’ driver’s foot rest, the clutch, collapsible brake pedal and gas pedal were all covered in aluminum alloy, while the gauges ahead were simple to read and easy on the eyes at night, assuming you liked red, because that’s all you got, save for the small digital displays between the tach and speedo.
The six-speed manual shifter was fun and easy to work; below it and beside me on the centre console was the hand brake and two more cupholders and the control buttons for the front seat heaters.
The small armrest bin could fit my camera and it hosted a USB and Aux. port and one of the two 12V power sources. The centre stack was as simple as they come in terms of looks; its 6.2-inch colour, multi-function touch screen display was the focal point, while the three large dials for climate control sat above an open cubby that I made good use of with things like my wallet, iPhone and other small stuff.
At the top of the stack in the middle of the dash was a smaller LCD screen for vehicle information like climate, fuel economy (we averaged 9.2 litres/100km), a digital clock and more; it was covered by a long brow that helped keep glare from the sun at bay, especially when its sunroof shade was open. The dash and doors were covered in soft-touch black plastics while other plastic trims (with a carbon fibre look) split the dash.
Visibility was good all around and was helped up front by large a-pillar spotter windows; the rear-view camera was a big help, too, as was the rear/side vehicle detection system. Unlike the rear, entry and exit to the front was a simple task thanks to wider-opening doors.
Trunk volume was at 340 litres, which would swallow up a couple of large suitcases and two or three carry-ons.
Appeals to many ages
On the whole, my week with the WRX really wasn’t that frustrating. Like I said earlier, the car was probably more annoyed with its driver. The WRX is a hot-looking, crazy-fun ride with a proven track record for safety and reliability.
It’s one of those sedans that can appeal to many ages, from this 40-something-year-old down to 16 year olds, and can be used for serious weekend rally-car competition (some may choose the STI version for these outings!) or as a roomy, all-weather daily driver for a family of four. Or both.
2016 Subaru WRX w/Sport Package
- Engine: 2.0L twin-scroll turbocharged, four-cylinder Subaru Boxer w/direct injection; 268 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; 258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
- Transmission: six-speed manual
- Drivetrain: Subaru symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive; viscous-coupling limited-slip centre differential
- Rated fuel economy: 11.3 / 8.4 city/highway litres/100km (realized 9.2 combined); premium fuel
- Other features: windshield wiper de-icer, driver’s knee airbag, satellite radio, 8-way power driver’s seat, performance-tuned suspension, low-profile spoiler, side moulding, functional hood scoop, and more
- Price as tested: $32,275