“Is that your Subaru?”

A couple of young lads sporting reversed baseball caps (signifying a certain degree hipness, I assume) caught me off-guard in the grocery store parking lot.

“Ah, yeah.”

“Nice. What year?”

“2017,” I replied.

They both nodded in a reverential way and strolled on. I felt like following them and blurting, “But guys, its just the WRX, not the STI, and this one has a slurring continuously variable transmission. I’m a complete fake. I DON’T EVEN OWN IT!”

But I didn’t. Because I’m a complete fake. Such is the nature of this business. One week I’m a vasectomized dad in a minivan and the next a prick in a Porsche.

This week I’m the guy riding the Subaru fence, right between the standard 148 hp Impreza sedan and the hardcore 305 hp STI. Okay, the 268 hp WRX is way more STI than cooking Impreza sedan, on which both are based. All we have to do is ask those dudes in the parking lot. With its blistered fenders, side skirts, 18-inch Enkei gunmetal alloys and massive functional hood scoop, this top-trim 2017 WRX Sport-Tech CVT at $37,395 walks the walk big-time.

The 2017 Subaru WRX starts at $29,995 and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission that gets revised shift action for this year. A continuously variable transmission is optional. Three words – buy the manual. Three more words – avoid the CVT.

But first the good stuff. The WRX has acutely accurate steering and a fine chassis that, in concert with Subaru’s excellent full-time all-wheel drive, loves to be leaned on. It’s a blast to chuck down a back road, and it also tracks straight and true on the highway. The low cowl and thin A-pillars translate to excellent visibility and the WRX’s 268 hp 258 lb-ft 2.0L turbo flat-four is a sonorous little powerhouse that delivers its good in a linear rush. Yes, the ride is a bit stiff and exhaust drone is your constant companion, but you bought a performance sedan, right?

History of the Flat-Four: Evolution of the Subaru Boxer

That’s what I was thinking right after I picked up my grey $37,395 WRX Sport-Tech CVT and lined up next to a first-gen Toyota Prius at a stop light. All I had to do was squirt ahead of this pokey eco impedance and tuck in front to make the quick right just up ahead. Easy peasy. The light changes, my foot goes down and… nothing. By the time the engine spooled up and the CVT put down the newspaper and decided somebody up there wanted some giddy-up, I was looking at the Prius’ taillights. A first-gen!

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