|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Frankly, this is the definitive version of the Subaru WRX—a pure driving machine that no other car matches, especially for less than two million pesos. That’s high praise considering you don’t have to look far to realize the competition in this price range. Remember, there’s the WRX’s sibling, the Subaru BRZ and its corporate cousin, the Toyota 86. And though both of these two-door coupes are capable canyon carvers with quick steering and responsive chassis, they need high levels of driving skill just to maximize its performance. Enter the Subaru WRX. With 68 more ponies and 145 more Nm of torque over a wider rev range, it’s a bygone conclusion that it’s faster than the Toyobaru twins in a straight line (some 1.3 seconds actually). What’s more important is that the WRX 6MT is idiot-proof, making even the most novice of drivers feel skilled while cocooning them in a confidence-inspiring environment.
While the Toyota 86, and to a lesser extent, the Subaru BRZ is quick to punish you for over-the-limit driving, the WRX relishes that. Turn into a bend and the electric power-assisted steering is quick, as in immediate, to respond. The linearity of the WRX’s steering is nicely matched by its good feedback and stellar suspension tuning. Though it uses the tried-and-tested MacPherson Strut/Double Wishbone set-up seen in other Subaru models, the WRX uses a new active torque vectoring system to raise the game. Coming out of a bend, you can actually keep on digging into the accelerator and feel the rear wheels push the chassis. This allows the WRX to rotate quickly through tight twists with little or no slip. And no amount of rain can dampen the fun. Through changing weather conditions, the WRX is simply confidence-inspiring thanks to Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. On this manual transmission model, the default fore-aft power split is 50/50, but power can be sent completely to the rear wheels if required. Like the WRX STI, the WRX comes with Multi-mode Vehicle Dynamics Control. At default, it automates all handling aids like stability control, traction control, and hill start assist. But with the push of a button, it can disengage stability control (TRAC-MODE) or for pure on-road (or off-road) hijinks, turn everything off completely.
If there’s one thing that could be improved in the WRX, it’s in the braking department. Although it sports larger diameter vented disc brakes upfront, the pedal feel is vague on the onset. Get over that initial weak bite though and the WRX does have the right amount of stopping power needed for spirited runs.
In as much as the chassis is a great revelation in the all-new WRX, you cannot talk performance without touching on the drivetrain. Using a reworked engine found in the Forester XT, the 2.0-liter FA20DIT produces 268 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. Using a twin-scroll turbo (not a twin turbo), it virtually doesn’t have turbo lag. From as low as 2,000 rpm, the WRX already produces peak torque and this goes all the way to 5,200 rpm. This means there’s continuous thrust from the moment you press on the accelerator. From as little as 10 percent pedal effort (based on the re-configurable Triple-Meter cluster), the WRX already feels quick. Floor it and 100 km/h arrives in the blink of an eye. 120, 130, 160 km/h—velocity is simply effortless. And then you have the 6-speed manual. With no drive modes to play with, you simply get in gear and go. There’s no drama, no fuss, and power is always there when you need it. The shifter clicks into gear with a nice, solid action and the clutch pedal is perfectly matched. The clutch also has a very natural take-up and easy to modulate, perhaps even more so than the WRX STI.
Although potential owners of the Subaru WRX probably won’t care about fuel mileage, it’s worth noting that with the 6-speed gearbox, the WRX doesn’t fair very well when stuck in traffic. In tests, it managed 7.57 km/L in weekday traffic, going up to 8.93 km/L in light traffic. On the highway though, it’s an excellent fuel sipper, doing 14.28 km/L. By comparison, the previous WRX does around 6.69 km/L (this was way back in 2009) while the all-new WRX STI does 5.92 km/L in the city. The WRX requires a diet of strictly 95 octane fuel.
Undoubtedly, you opt for the Subaru WRX simply for the pleasure it give you behind the wheel. And yet, it’s worth noting that the driving environment it offers is equally sublime. The dashboard itself is an ergonomic masterpiece with all the controls laid out in an easy-to-understand manner. The instrument cluster is perfectly in line with driver’s eye level and so is the multi-functional center screen. The stalks, knobs, and other switches are chunky and can be operated tactilely with little difficulty. Then, there’s the steering wheel. The small-diameter, flat-bottomed three-spoker makes manhandling the WRX that much easier through switchbacks. The pedals, with their aluminum covers with rubber studs, are perfectly spaced for easy heel-and-toeing. And finally, there are the front seats with the thick bolsters and adjustable headrests for an absolutely comfortable and fatigue-free driving experience.
At P 1,818,000, the 6MT model represents a price drop of P 70,000 over the CVT-equipped WRX. At a glance, it sounds like the bargain of the century, but look carefully through the spec sheet and you’ll notice that along with the transmission, a lot of kit has been gutted out. Outside, the main difference is in the headlights. From a smoked-unit with LED main beams, the manual transmission WRX gets halogen headlights. Inside though is where things get more painful. Gone are the leather seats, the power driver’s seat, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and the Smart Key push-button start/stop. The last time Subaru removed this much kit along with a change in gearbox was when they offered the Impreza in both manual and CVT versions. And at least that one had a price difference of P 140,000. Theoretically, with the amount of stuff removed, the WRX M/T should have been priced at P 1,748,000.
Pricing issue aside, the Subaru WRX is one fun car. Just about everything good about its predecessor has been sharpened and then some. Sure, there will be those who’ll still flock towards the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, or even the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, but you cannot deny that the WRX is now the definitive choice when it comes to peso-for-peso driving fun. If you enjoy a bit more luxury with your sporting performance, you can always go for the WRX CVT. But as far as pure driving enjoyment, there’s nothing better than a manual transmission Subaru WRX.
2014 Subaru WRX M/T
|Ownership||2014 Subaru WRX 6-speed M/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Sedan|
|Body Type||4-door Sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||F4|
|BHP @ rpm||268 @ 5,600|
|Nm @ rpm||350 @ 2,400-5,200|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,465|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, Rear Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|