2008 Subaru WRX
2008 Subaru WRX. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Andrew McCredie

Photo Gallery: 2008 Subaru WRX

North Vancouver, British Columbia – With a base price of $33,895, is this hot-hatch really worth $13,000 more than the 2.5i? (As an aside, Subaru press notes never refer to the five-door as a ‘hatchback’ and I have a feeling the sticker price has something to do with that.)

After spending a week driving around Metro Vancouver in a five-door manual WRX, I’d have to say ‘yes’ – though I have to admit I’ve been a big fan of the World Rally Car-inspired performance model since its debut in 2001.

Still, even the uninitiated will appreciate the handling and balance of the five-door Impreza. The power output might be the same as the 2007 WRX model – the turbocharged 2.5-litre boxer engine produces 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque – but thanks to a number of suspension and chassis improvements, the 2008 Impreza WRX outperforms its predecessor. Replacing the previous strut-type suspension in the rear with a new double-wishbone suspension has given the rear end more grip, and as an added bonus, it has increased the cargo area.

2008 Subaru WRX
2008 Subaru WRX. Click image to enlarge

The chassis, which is longer and lighter than last year’s model, has a more rigid construction that gives the WRX a tauter feel, though it’s more noticeable to the driver than the passengers.

As to the five-door’s new styling, the rear end is pretty pedestrian, though the rear air diffuser tucked below the bumper does provide a little visual cue as to what rumbles up front under the hood. The sedan has two stainless steel-tipped exhaust pipes, while the hatchback has one larger pipe.

The front end, on the other hand, isn’t shy at all: with its bulging muscular lines, trademark WRX hood scoop, and a headlight/grille array that resembles a toothy, menacing grin, there’s no mistaking the WRX is built for pleasure and not just utility. Make that a guilty pleasure because if you drive it with some, how shall we say, verve, you’ll pay the price at the pump.

2008 Subaru WRX
2008 Subaru WRX. Click image to enlarge

Everyday driving fuel economy is decent, but Subarus in general have never attempted to squeeze fuel savings from their engines the way other Japanese manufacturers have, and do.

Autos’s Senior Editor, Paul Williams, and Contributing Editor Chris Chase wondered if the 2008 WRX has lost its mojo with its more refined exterior and longer wheelbase, and I’m sure many WRX-purists are shaking their heads and wondering how and why the rally-inspired model could be mistaken for a grocery hauler.

I guess my answer to them is that getting groceries was never this much fun.

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