The Subaru Impreza WRX was first introduced in Japan in 1992 as a turbo-charged performance version of their Impreza sedan/five-door hatchback. The car eventually made its way to North America in 2002 and cemented its reputation as a fun, nimble, Rally-inspired road car. The 2008 WRX was the first model of the third generation of the car and it left fans a bit underwhelmed. Does the 2009 model return the WRX to its former glory?
First of all, if you didn’t like the styling of the 2008 WRX, you’re not going to like the 2009. The more vertical grille and aggressive styling of the previous WRX models is still missing, replaced with a sloped, more-rounded, and almost diminuitive front end that doesn’t seem to be in synch with the car’s rally heritage. The performance of the 2008, particularly the rather weak handling ability, was the other main gripe against last year’s WRX, and that, thankfully, has been fixed.
The power has been boosted to 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque, up 41 and 18, respectively, from the 2008. The springs have been stiffened by 43% in the front and 42% in the rear and the anti-roll bars have been increased by 1 mm on both the front and back as well. This puts the performance of the 2009 Impreza WRX back into the league that it should be in. The steering is once again nimble and responsive, and the stiffer springs give you confidence around the corners that the 2008′s cushy springs couldn’t provide. The 17-inch wheels are also skinned in high-grip summer tires, a welcome improvement to the all-season tires from the 2008.
The WRX is only available in a manual transmission, but that’s not much of an issue. Anybody who is seriously considering a WRX is an enthusiast who likes the control a manual affords. There’s been a few styling tweaks and a new aero package on the 2009 WRX versus the 2008, but they’re not that significant. Put a 2008 model and a 2009 side-by-side and you’ll notice a few differences, but not much.
In short, the 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX represents a much-needed improvement over the 2008 model. The summer tires are a nice addition, but if you live in an area with chilly winters, you’ll need to invest a bit of extra cash for winter tires, as the stock rubber just won’t cut it in the snow. The styling is still a sticking point, but it is forgivable now that the performance is up to par. If you’re a fan of the WRX, the 2009 is worth a look, but if you’re just getting introduced to the brand, try to find a used 2006 or 2007 model. It has a similar 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that has a bit less power than the 2009, but it has the more classic WRX styling.