The Subaru Impreza WRX is the high-performance version of the otherwise practical-minded Subaru Impreza sedan and hatchback. The WRX designation, which is short for World Rally Experimental, signifies the presence of a higher-horsepower turbocharged engine and a sport-tuned suspension that increases the car's performance envelope. The Impreza WRX STI model, meanwhile, is a product of the automaker's in-house tuning division, Subaru Tecnica International, and offers even more power along with a more advanced all-wheel-drive system than enhances cornering grip.
Subaru's history in rally racing has certainly influenced the design of the Impreza WRX and WRX STI, and what these all-wheel-drive performance cars lack in physical beauty they give back in the form of a thrilling driving experience. That said, performance also takes priority over cabin quality and ride comfort. Compared with other sedans and hatchbacks you might consider in this price range, the Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI come up short in refinement.
Current Subaru Impreza WRX Specs
Every Subaru Impreza WRX has four doors, regardless of whether you choose the sedan or hatchback body style. Essentially, the WRX comes in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and STI, all of which are available in either body style. A fifth trim level, the STI Limited, is only available as a sedan.
The WRX base, Premium and Limited models are powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 265 horsepower and 244 pound-feet of torque. That engine is hooked up to a five-speed manual transmission that drives all four wheels through a standard AWD system. The STI and STI Limited models have a more potent version of the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine rated at 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six speed manual is standard on the STI models, and the AWD system incorporates front and rear limited-slip differentials to help the car get the extra power to the ground.
Standard feature highlights on the Subaru Impreza WRX include 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic climate control, sport front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker CD player with USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio input. The Premium trim adds foglights, a sunroof and a trunk lid spoiler (for sedan models). The Limited further adds xenon headlights and leather upholstery.
The WRX STI trim loses the sunroof, but highlights include 18-inch BBS wheels, Brembo brakes, an even more aggressively tuned suspension and a bigger hood scoop to feed more air to the engine's intercooler. The top-of-the-range STI Limited gets the sunroof back, along with different 18-inch wheels, foglights and leather upholstery.
The WRX has slightly less cargo space than the standard Subaru Impreza, but it's still capable of hauling around your stuff, especially in the hatchback configuration. Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of hard plastic in the cabin, and we've been unimpressed by the workmanship in test vehicles we've examined. In addition, the optional navigation system (available on all trim levels) has a dated interface and can be frustrating to use.
Used Subaru Impreza WRX Models
The Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI have been on sale in their current form since the 2008 model year. You can get additional information on these used Impreza WRXs and WRX STIs by checking out our review of the full Subaru Impreza line.