Engine: 2.5 litres, four cylinders, turbocharged
Top speed: 158mph
Power: 300bhp at 6000rpm
Fuel/CO2: 26.9mpg, 243g/km
If you’ve always had a passing fancy for a new WRX (the lmpreza name has now been dropped), you’d beffer be quick. This might be the 20th year in which it’s been on sale in many and various guises, but it is also the last. Subaru is withdrawing it from sale, stocks are dwindling and soon an important chapter in motoring history will conclude.
I well remember testing the original. At the time we thought it would take over the world. With a 208bhp turbocharged boxer motor powering all four wheels in a practical family car that would never go wrong, it seemed to provide an answer to almost every question posed by those who needed commonsense wheels but wanted something worth driving. It was quicker than a Porsche 968, a damn sight more usable and less than half the price. After 20 years with the market to itself, the hot hatchback appeared to have had its day.
Drive a WRX today and you’ll soon understand why its presumed world domination never came to pass. A car that had once seemed so far ahead of the game has now fallen badly adrift
The engine has swollen from 2.0 to 2.5 litres, now produces 300bhp in stock form (though 320 and 340bhp versions are affordable upgrades from the factory) and remains its best feature, but where once its performance was startling it is now merely average.
Likewise the car’s handling: the glory days of World Rally Championship success are long gone and the WRX has been sanitised. It’s still fun to drive thanks to ever-excellent steering and natural poise, but it no longer feels light and agile and has to be coaxed into extrovert behaviour: it is no longer natural.
The less said about the rest of the car the barter, but you should perhaps know the ride quality is poor, the interior design dreadful and the fuel consumption even worse. Official figures suggest it returns just 0.2mpg more than a 500bhp Bentley Continental GT V8. Subaru has dropped the price of the WRX from £32,995 to £27,995, presumably to clear out the stock. Even at that level, sadly, it’s hard to see the value.