2011 Subaru WRX sedan
2011 Subaru WRX sedan. Click image to enlarge

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Subaru introduces 2011 WRX

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Review and photos by Haney Louka

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2011 Subaru WRX

Talk about vindication.

The last Subaru Impreza I drove left me totally underwhelmed. Plain-Jane looks and an uninspired driving experience had me muttering things like “Why couldn’t Subaru inject some WRX fun into their entry level models?” Was I being too harsh on the poor $20,995 Impreza?

Absolutely not.

I didn’t drive the new-for-2011 WRX sedan more than 100 metres through the gas station parking lot after picking it up before I felt totally vindicated for launching such criticisms against the base Impreza. You see, even at parking lot speeds, all it takes is one clutch engagement and one input to the steering wheel before realizing that the WRX is a completely different car from its humble stablemate.

“As it should be,” some might say. But my take on this is that a minimum amount of DNA should extend to all members of a model family, lest one be accused of being an imposter.

2011 Subaru WRX sedan
2011 Subaru WRX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Not too long ago the ‘Rex seemed a bit lost in the shuffle, with hum-drum looks and a 227-hp turbocharged flat-four. 2009 saw the introduction of the WRX 265, a beefed-up version with – you guessed it – 265 horses thanks to a larger turbocharger and revised exhaust plumbing for a relatively modest bump in price. For 2010 that engine became standard-issue on the WRX; great news because Subaru kept the pricing of the less powerful model in the transition.

For 2011 the $32,495 WRX is being treated to the same aggressive flared bodywork that’s been an STi trademark since this generation was introduced back in 2008; I would think that STi owners will take exception to the fact that ‘lesser’ versions of the car now look like their more exclusive rides, but clearly Subaru needed to lump the WRX firmly at the performance end of the Impreza spectrum. All I can say is this: I like it.

The WRX is available in four-door sedan or hatchback bodies (as is the STi for 2011; previously it could only be ordered with the hatch), with the hatch commanding a $900 premium over the notchback.

2011 Subaru WRX sedan
2011 Subaru WRX sedan
2011 Subaru WRX sedan. Click image to enlarge

Standard equipment includes the aforementioned 265-horse flat-four, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, six-speaker audio with auxiliary input and satellite radio prep, dual-piston front brakes, automatic climate control, wheel-mounted cruise control, tilting and telescoping steering, traction and stability control, heated seats, split-folding rear bench seat, and a five-speed manual gearbox with hill-holder feature.

Our tester was the $35,495 WRX Limited, which adds fog lights, a power sunroof, and leather seats, as well as satellite radio with a three-month Sirius subscription. Not a bargain for those extra features, but overall a decent value nonetheless.

The high horse count is achieved courtesy of a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-litre flat-four. Compared to a more conventional inline-four where all of the cylinders are oriented near vertically and arranged in a row, the flat, or horizontally-opposed, layout puts pairs of cylinders on their side facing each other with the pistons moving towards each other; hence the “boxer” moniker. The benefit of this layout is primarily related to packaging; the car’s centre of gravity is lower with a boxer engine under the hood. The 265 horses are generated at 6,000 rpm, while a heady 244 lb.-ft. of torque announces its presence at 4,000 revs.

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