A few months back, I wrote a review on the latest Subaru WRX – explaining how the model is an all-season Canadian performance favorite, that the new one is improved in many areas where it needed to be, in a few where it didn’t need to be, that it maintains the excellent real-world ride quality I’ve always loved it for, and that it performs better and drinks less gas than ever.

I thought that although a few special design touches didn’t make it through the latest update, the improvements and updates and, especially, the lower entry price, have made this new WRX the most compelling one yet.

I also talked some smack.

See, now the WRX is available with an automatic transmission. For years, it only came with a manual in Canada – meaning that only hardcore driving buffs of the highest order could drive one. Adding an automatic, I figured, reduced the appeal of the WRX. Made it a bit less special. A bit less serious. Especially, I figured, since the automatic transmission now available bolted to the back of the WRX’s boosted flat-four was of the CVT variety.

I typically find CVT transmissions a bit yucky. They tend to drone, aren’t so much fun, and are often fitted to vehicles that are big-time boring, not very fast, and handle like a wheelbarrow full of cottage cheese. The concept of putting a transmission like this into a machine like the WRX flew so far over my head that it needed a passport. I figured this was going to be a big mistake.

Sure. The CVT saves fuel, but I figure, they don’t belong in a performance car, primarily since they don’t shift and don’t let you smash gears and typically replace repeated, escalating bursts of thrust through each gear with a boring, steady-RPM wave.

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