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Driven by the Love of the Drive
1000 Miles with the 2011 WRX
October 2, 2010Posted by on
1000 miles in (okay, 950 miles, close enough!), and it’s time for my report!
In case you missed it, I picked up a brand new 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX a couple of weeks ago. I’ve decided to give my impressions of living with the 2011 after 100 miles.
Just look at it. Doesnt it just scream “GET OUT OF MY WAY!!”? That’s what I’ve always loved about the GD Imprezas, it’s what sold me on buying one three years ago. And it’s these same anabolic looks that sold me on the 2011. The 2008-2010 looks like a corolla-rental compared to this years model. I just love how the car looks so bottom heavy, although I admit that at certain angles (one example is three-quarters angle at eye-level) it does look funky or at times ugly. But that’s one thing I love about Subarus, their looks leave no room for error. You either love them or hate them. You can’t really be on the fence about it. I like that in a cars looks, I really do. My favorite way of looking at this car is right here:
I just love the way the car looks directly side-on. It almost has a coupe look to it no? Or is that just me? Anyway….
You gotta love all the aggressive little bits they stuck on as well. Of course, the wheels are what sticks out the most. I’m still in the mind that Subaru builds THE best looking factory wheels, and they don’t let down here. I especially love the gunmetal color they used combined with the Satin-White Pearl color. It compleiments all the black accents as well, including the front grille and headlights. One thing I could live without? The quad-tipped exhaust:
I mean, on an M5 or E63 AMG I can see it, but on a lowly WRX? I don’t know, I love it, and yet I don’t. The whole rear-end in general is the only real complaint I have about the exterior looks. In case it was bugging you too, yes I really believe this is a shameless rip-off of the BMW E92 M3s rear end. Don’t believe me? Go look up one on the internet, quick………back? See what I mean? Yeah, I would’ve preferred an actual rear-diffuser, but eh. Small niggle.
I know that for the most part, the interior is the same as it’s been since 2009, but it’s new to me. I’m a sucker for gimmicks, and the interior is full of them. I love the gratuitous amounts of red-stitching used throughout the interior, it gives it that boy-racer feel that the whole car in general should have. I mean, we all know this isn’t supposed to be an M3 or anything like that, so it fits right in here. The steering wheel itself also feels really good, for now anyway. We’ll see how this soft-touch leather stands up to the test of time, but it feels fabulous right now.
And now my gripes. Number one would be the lack of sophistication in the construction of the interior. A prime example is the door panels. The amounts of plastic used here is a bit depressing. If you look at the door panel as a whole, it’s just one big massive piece of plastic, with a tiny-bit of leather stuck on for show. I know I can’t complain too much on a car costing 26K, but still. The Mazdaspeed 3 has a little more sophistication than this. Also, I’m not sure if this is down to the less than stellar audio system (more on that in a bit), but the fact that anytime your music has a teeny bit of bass too it the door panels shake like they’re gonna come off is a bit of an annoyance as well. Again, I know I cant complain too much about a 26K performance car, but I can complain a little right?
The Audio system also has its big plus points, and small minus points as well. The good? The Bluetooth compatibility. Not only do you get Bluetooth hands free for you phone, which is awesome, you also get audio streaming as well! In case you don’t know how that exactly works, the easiest way to put it is this: it’s like a wireless auxiliary-input. Your music plays through the cars audio system with no wires involved, and you can actually control the track selection using the steering wheel controls! That is just so awesome, especially for the thousands of iPhones users such as myself. I’ve had some issues with people not being able to hear me when I’m using the Bluetooth to make calls, but it’s not that bad, much more helpful than harmful. The bad here though is the audio quality itself. Let’s be honest, it’s a Subaru, so you can’t expect much. Still, the speakers can’t handle much bass as all, and as a result rattle like crazy when you turn the volume up even a little (or that could be the poor door-panels as I said earlier). Also, see those arrows on the head unit you think are for changing tracks? Nope, you have to use that knob on the right instead. Yeah, it’s a little weird, but nothing big.
Now, this is the reason you buy a WRX, the drive. This is my third Subaru so I’m quite used to them already, but for those who don’t I’ll try the best I can. It’s amazing how similar this car feels to my old 2006 WRX. The throttle response, the shifter feel, and of course the noise. It feels all Subaruy. As far as power, this is a brilliant engine. It’s by no means sophisticated though, when you’re plodding around town it sounds really rough, almost like a diesel sometimes. But, when you open the taps a bit, it sounds like all hell breaks loose. Even more so this year, because the exhaust is LOUD on this car. It seriously sounds like it has an aftermarket cat-back exhaust straight from the factory. I love it, it has what everyone knows as the Subaru-rumble. I mean, I set off car-alarms in parking garages with a stock car! How awesome is that!?
Now as far as driving it, what do expect me to say? It’s great! Out on the road, it feels composed and at times quite soft. Well, it’s certainly more stiff than my old Legacy, that’s to be expected, but it’s noticeably softer feeling than the GD Imprezas. Now that doesn’t mean it’s all squishy, this thing still feels solid as a stone, and corners really flat at highway speeds. It’s just that it’s a lot more livable day-to-day over the old GDs, which is to be expected of a newer car of course. Power delivery is a lot more buttery-smooth than the GDs of old as well. This thing just feels like it has so much torque, whatever gear you’re in on the freeway, you know you have the power to just put your foot down and go. Turbo-lag IS there, but it’s negligible at best.
I just love the sensations the car gives you though when driving it. The rough sounding engine, the sound of the transmission whine, the faint turbo-spool, the solid feeling shifter, it just feels so Subaru. To me, that’s the beauty of Subarus, they just have a certain feel to them that other cars don’t have. As far as the transmission, I will admit that the shifter is a little notchy feeling, and it’s tough to find some gears if you’re not used to a Subaru transmission. And it also is a little long in the throws, but nothing an affordable short-shifter can’t fix. And it’s not bad to just live with either. The clutch feel is a bit odd as well, in that Subaru way. It feels a bit sticky at first, but it’s something you get used to quickly.
I also got a chance to run this thing at our local Autocross event as well, and this is where the weaknesses in the car become a little more apparent. Now, don’t take that the wrong way, this car is fabulous on a track. But, it has those inherit traits that all AWD cars have. Push it too hard, and it wallows into corners, and understeer rears its ugly head. But get it right, and this thing just has gobs of grip, and it’s very easy to drive this thing fast. I’m sure with the right driver behind the wheel, this thing WILL keep pace, if not beat an older model STI. I really think so. It is that good, especially considering the price.
So, conclusion time. Um what are you expecting me to say here? I love it!! That’s why I bought it right?? I will admit that it’s by no means a perfect car, and it’s defiantly not the right type of car for everyone. But if you want a car that excites all five of your senses when you drive it everyday, there aren’t many others in this price segment. Sure, a Mazdaspeed 3 may be an overall faster, sophisticated car, but I believe the WRX has much more character than the Mazda, more than any car in the segment in fact. And to me that’s everything. I love it, and I do not regret dropping the coin for it. Now here’s to the next 1000 miles!