Subaru WRX Premium CVT review: A wolf in sheep’s clothing
As refined as it is fun to drive
- Engine balances speed with economy
- Aggressive styling
- All-wheel drive
- Well equipped and designed interior
- Automatic CVT gearbox
- Lack of engine noise
Price$ 45,990.00 (AUD)
The walk towards a WRX is marked by caution and jubilation because it doesn’t look like any other dreary five seater. It looks aggressive. A bonnet scoop harvests air for cooling at the front, four exhausts punctuate a rear diffuser and in between are 18-inch alloys coloured in the shade of night.
Styling has been negotiated with performance in mind. Vents behind the front wheels channel air along the sports side-skirts and above the rear wheels for additional down force. Even the mirrors lend themselves to improved aerodynamics. And did we mention the gaping bonnet scoop, which eagerly gleans air onto a top-mounted radiator to keep things cool?
The exterior’s showmanship is a lot louder than the rest of this car because inside is a civilised sedan that has straps for baby seats and a generous boot. Take away the red stitching and the faux carbon fibre accents and what remains is a wonderfully simplistic console, leather-clad sports seats and an option list comparable to its European rivals.
There isn't a myriad of dials littering the dashboard. Instead the turbo gauge is displayed on a 4.3-inch LCD screen. It alternates with other graphics, like petrol consumption, the grip of each tyre, or an analogue clock.
More graphics can be found on the 6.1-inch touchscreen used to manage the infotainment system. The GPS is detailed and intuitive and the voice control, although understanding of commands, lacks contextual awareness. It needs to be told “handsfree” ahead of making a phone call, rather than just saying “Call Belinda”.
Bluetooth can be used for handsfree calls or to stream music. Don’t go plugging in 256GB sticks into the USB port like yours truly because it will cause the system to randomly reboot. Stick to thumb drives sized a responsible 64GB or less.
Turn off the power and the console looks simple. It has plenty of tech but Subaru hasn’t congested and overwhelmed drivers by laying it all bare. Rather they’ve made sophisticated features easy to access, and that is a feat.
Matching the comfort of the interior is an exceptionally comfortable ride. Driving off tarmac and onto loose gravel in New South Wales’ Picton did little to phase the WRX. At one point we glanced down at the speedometer to see it read a comfortable 60km/h, which isn’t the best of ideas when the car’s tyres are kicking about pellets of stone.
Many varied elements go into making this car formidable against potholes and bumps: the weight is a modest 1537kg; the chassis is well built; the quality of the suspension; and the all-wheel drivetrain.
Under the hood is a 2L turbocharged boxer engine that produces 197kW, revs out 6500rpm and will get the WRX from a standstill to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. Power is one continuous surge, and because it is delivered to all four wheels, the WRX feels composed at speeds north of 100km/h.
Raw engine noise plays second to the spooling turbo, which loudly hisses and whines at partial throttle. Only when the accelerator is fully engaged does the sound of the engine grow, and although its track is more duet than solo, the guttural growl can still be savoured.
Handling is the WRX’s showpiece. Full-sized sedans are not meant to handle corners so brazenly and with such poise. Subaru’s revered all-wheel-drive system inspires confidence in the bends so that the car’s performance engine can be pushed right up to the apex.
Subaru’s slogan “All for the driver” only surmises some of this car’s appeal because there’s no reason why it couldn't be used for the family. The brand is more mature with a lower price-tag, has plenty of features and a civilised interior. Even the engine will quietly hum along at low speeds, ticking over all eight gears to keep both the noise and the fuel consumption to a low.
And when duties and obligations are put to bed, and the road is clear, the WRX will remind why you ever enjoyed driving.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Lessons from SXSW: Life without Uber is mostly fine
- US Army shows off its 'hoverbike' delivery drone
- Intel buys Mobileye for $15 billion to challenge Nvidia for the future of self-driving cars
- First full-scale Hyperloop system is almost ready for takeoff
- Intel showed how 5G networking will power VR and self-driving cars
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TPSenior Node.JS DeveloperNSW
- FTPMO Project Analytics and Tools ManagerNSW
- FTAgile Project ManagerACT
- FTIT Project Manager. Ciritical permanent roleNSW
- FTTechnical Business AnalystVIC
- FTMultiple Infrastructure ArchitectsWA
- FTSAP Payroll and Time ConsultantVIC
- FTJunior Applications SupportQLD
- CCInfrastructure Test Lead - Contract 6-8 wks initially - IT Services - North RydeNSW
- FTStorage Engineer (HDS)NSW
- FTJunior / Entry Level IT roleNSW
- CCChange AnalystQLD
- FTSolution Architect - StorageVIC
- CC.NET Developer!QLD
- CCIT Project Scheduler- Port MacquarieQLD
- FTOracle Forms PL/SQL Analyst ProgrammerQLD
- FTSAP Data Migration SpecialistACT
- FTService Desk AnalystsSA
- FTProject Manager, FinanceNSW
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- FTJunior DevOps Developer - TelcoVIC
- CCLead SAP SRM DeveloperACT
- FTSenior Developer/DevOpsVIC
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!SA