Of the compact Impreza's many versions, the WRX is in the middle — more powerful than the regular models but not as unfettered as the WRX STI. Available in sedan and four-door hatchback forms, the 2011 WRX receives extensive exterior and interior changes that move it closer to the STI in style, though its drivetrain remains the same. Its closest competitor is the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart.
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The WRX has adopted the 2010 STI model's wider body and more aggressive exterior.
Because the current-generation STI had been available only as a hatchback, the wide-body styling appears on a sedan for the first time this year in both the WRX sedan and an all-new STI sedan. It includes wider fenders and squared-off bumpers. The grille is now black; gone is the previous model year's chrome bar. Carrying over from last year are a prominent hood scoop, to funnel air into the turbo's intercooler, and a spoiler on the hatchback's liftgate. The WRX sedan has an optional spoiler on the trunklid that's more subtle than the STI's. The sedan's taillights are red, whereas the hatch has clear lenses.
The widening isn't limited to the body. The distance between the left and right wheels, known as the vehicle's track, is 1.5 inches wider. The WRX's suspension is firmer than the regular Impreza's, and for 2011 it has slight changes, including firmer rear bushings. The standard wheels are 17 inches, and this year they're 8 inches wide, up from 7 inches, for more grip.
All WRX models employ a turbocharged version of Subaru's 2.5-liter four-cylinder that generates 265 horsepower and 244 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is the only transmission, and the standard all-wheel drive uses a viscous coupling center differential rather than the more sophisticated system that works with an automatic transmission in the more modest Imprezas.
The WRX's interior is distinguished from other Imprezas by sport seats with checkered black cloth upholstery with red accent stitching. The pedals and dead pedal have aluminum alloy covers.
The leather steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and it incorporates buttons for the cruise control and audio system. A new single-CD stereo adds Bluetooth audio streaming and hand-free cellular capability along with USB and analog jacks for controlling or simply playing an MP3 player through the stereo. Other standard features include remote keyless entry and automatic climate control. Satellite radio and a navigation system are options. The WRX Premium adds heated seats and side mirrors, a moonroof and projector-beam fog lights. The WRX Limited adds leather upholstery and xenon headlights.
Subaru WRX STI
The STI version of the WRX now comes as a sedan for the first time in this generation. For 2011 its suspension is retuned with higher spring rates and thicker stabilizer bars and remains a step firmer and more performance oriented than the regular WRX's. Its version of the turbo-four produces 305 hp and 290 pounds-feet of torque. Its six-speed manual joins a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system with limited-slip front and rear differentials. The center differential has three driver-selectable performance modes and variable torque distribution settings. The brakes use Brembo-brand four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers. The alloy wheels measure 18 by 8.5 inches. The STI has quad tailpipes — enlarged to 3 inches in diameter — and the sedan has a huge rear wing spoiler. Back to top