Vehicle Type: Sedan / 5-door
History/Description: The Subaru Impreza WRX hit the market in its last-generation model for 2008 with a 224 hp turbocharged flat-four engine, five-speed stick, and the Japanese automaker’s legendary Symmetrical AWD system bolted to its underside.
A hopped-up WRX 265 model was launched for 2009, being axed in 2010 as its namesake 265 hp engine became standard for all WRX models from then on.
Both sedan and hatchback five-door models were available, with feature content including Bluetooth, heated sport bucket seats, a sunroof, leather-wrapped accents, automatic climate control, automatic lights, Bluetooth and more.
A top-performing WRX STI model was also available, increasing performance feature content and engineering to support a more powerful turbo engine, good for horsepower just past the 300 mark, and complete with Torsen differentials, a Driver Controlled Centre Differential, upgraded brakes, track-ready suspension and more.
What Owners Like: Commonly praised in this generation of WRX and STI are the acceleration, handling, seat comfort, and all-out fun-to-drive factor. Many owners appreciate the space and flexibility of five-door models, and note generous at-hand storage facilities. Winter driving confidence is rated top-notch, too.
What Owners Dislike: Common complaints of the WRX and STI include heavy fuel consumption, the requirement to be fed premium gasoline, and a cheap, low-budget interior. Some owners complain of a stiff, firm ride, which is a tradeoff for the model’s handling abilities. As the WRX and STI age, many owners complain of interior rattles, too.
Here are some owner reviews.
The Test Drive: Standard sports car checks apply to the WRX and STI, regardless of mileage or year. Plan to be patient in your search, and not to let lust cloud your judgment. Buying a used WRX or STI from the nicest, oldest lady or gentleman you can find is a great start, where possible, as opposed to buying one from an aspiring teenage parking-lot drift champ.
Confirm that the tires and brakes are in decent shape, not in need of replacing. Coax slippage from a worn clutch by applying full throttle at very low revs. Have the vehicle’s seller take you for a ride first, noting their driving style, and how well they operate the gearbox and clutch. A clutch can last the life of the vehicle, though a brutal driver can destroy one in months.
Walk around the model inspecting the condition of the paint, especially on the front bumper. Many owners complain of poor durability from the factory paint job as well as cracks in the bumper. Confirm proper operation of the driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, seat heaters and air conditioner, too.
Here’s a useful thread where a Subaru WRX STI shopper learns of some problems noted to be more common in the community, and is advised to follow the factory maintenance schedule strictly, use the highest-octane gas possible, and avoid spirited driving until the engine is fully warmed up.
Looking for an older model? Evolution of the Subaru STI
The thread also mentions some well-documented issues with blown piston ringlands, which will require an engine rebuild to fix. The main causes, as stated by the Subaru mechanic in this thread, seem to be caused by use of aftermarket parts and non-factory engine tuning. Non factory operation of the engine, particularly when ‘tunes’ are installed to boost power, can cause added strain on this part of the piston, causing it to crack.