Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Subaru WRX Hatch
Hatching a new WRX plan
October 2007

I'VE been asked a million times what car I'd have if I wasn't doing this gig.

The answer is as varied as an EH Holden ute to a Lancer EVO. But I reckon there's a lot to be said for Subaru's Impreza WRX Hatch.

It's got just about everything you'd eve want in a car. Five seats, plenty of luggage space including enough room for bulky items tht you just won't squeeze into a sedan, like a surfboard and an esky and leave room for a child seat as well.

It has street cred, it has style and, most of all, it has enough get up and go to keep you sane. Oh, and it's all-wheel-drive with a five-star safety rating as well.

Aside from not having a tray on the back to carry stuff home from Bunnings it's the ideal machine. Put a towball on the bugger and borrow Bunnings' trailer I reckon.

When you consider it's priced from $39,990, which is actually $450 lower the the superseded model, it's no wonder the 'Rex has been so popular.

Just to keep things in perspective, we drove the Impreza RS hatch as well and for those who don't need the extra engine surge it's a sensational buy at $29,490 (down $950).

The sedan versions and the STi are here next year, by the way.

A new Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) 2.0 litre NA engine offers significant improvements in power (up 20 per cent) and torque (up 7 per cent) over the SOHC engine used in superseded 2.0i and RV, plus fuel efficiency and emission gains.

It is also offers 5.3 per cent more torque than the 2.0 DOHC engine used in superseded 2.0R.

It has been debated that the new WRX is "softer" than the old model. It certainly has considerably smoother torque delivery from lower revs, but the fact that it's lighter and yet more powerful means it must be quicker, just not as abrupt when going about it.

One noticeable difference where it is aofter is the seats. They really are one step up from a "normal" seat, compared with the 'Rexes of old when they were all but ready to race in.

As far as driveability goes, this is the first WRX I've ever been able to fully get a handle on (pardon the pun) where I really did feel driving harder made the traction better via the all-wheel-drive.

The sedan should be even better and is due to new double wishbone rear suspension and stiffer chassis.

Engines sit 10 mm lower in the chassis, reducing the centre of gravity, benefiting road holding and reducing the risk of vehicle roll-over as well.

Despite a 95 mm longer wheelbase, Impreza’s external length is 50mm and actually also has better head, leg and shoulder room. Overall width is increased by 45 mm to 1740 mm.

Distance between front and rear seats is extended 65 mm to maximize legroom.

The cargo area is wider, offering greater useable space, partly due to no suspension strut intrusion and a deeper floor. Cargo area width is up 123 mm to 1067 mm.

Inside, WRX has electroluminescent gauges, brushed alloy-style door and dashboard highlights and alloy pedals. Steering wheel diameter is reduced from 385 to 375 mm, for easier handling.

The new model's doors open wider for easier access. The rear doors open 75 degrees (60 mm wider) while rear seatbacks have been reclined a further three degrees to 26 degrees to improve comfort.

Among the many standard features are 17-inch 10-spoke alloys, Xenon self-levelling headlights with pop-out power jet washers, climate control, cruise, 10-speaker six-stack in-dash CD system with steering wheel controls, ABS, curtain airbags, dual front and side airbags, Hill Start Assist and remote central locking with hatch release button on the key.

WRX engine changes include a new oil pump and tumble generator valve for fuel efficiency gains; new spark plugs for both fuel efficiency and exhaust gas performance benefits, and a new intercooler and turbocharger for better output.

Peak torque is produced 800rpm earlier than the previous model. This results in a broader, richer torque curve to improve drivability and fuel efficiency.

Every Impreza has Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) as standard.

VDC is designed for a “driver’s vehicle.” In normal conditions it is purely a monitoring system, and applies no control.

But near the car’s performance limits it gives the driver more control – resulting in safer and more comfortable driving.

In extreme situations, such as when swerving, sideslipping or entering a spin, VDC activates to control each wheel individually, via braking, engine output, and the All-Wheel Drive system. This improves stability by using the car’s most stable wheels.

In cases of extreme oversteer, VDC activates, applying brakes to the front and rear outside turning wheels, producing yaw – a force that opposes the oversteering tendency. With understeer, VDC applies brakes to the inside rear wheels to counteract the effect.

16-inch front and 15-inch rear brakes have been improved. Testing by Fuji Heavy Industries shows WRX stopping in 39.6 metres from 100km/h on a dry road, a 13.7 per cent improvement. It previously took 45.9 m.

On a wet road it now stops in 43.5 m versus 52.7 m previously – a 17.4 per cent improvement.

Lighter, more powerful and lower price. All round a great car at a great price and with the legendary 'Rex appeal.



ENGINE: 2.5 litre turbocharged, horizontally opposed "boxer" engine

POWER: 169kW @ 5200rpm

TORQUE: 320Nm @ 2800kW

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual


ACCELERATION: 0-100km/h 5.8s

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 10.7l/100km average

PROS: Great car from top to bottom; fantastic value and versatility of a hatch

CONS: Seats could be just a little bit more sporting