VERY FAST, but not fun as a drivers car
The key barrel failed to recognise the key at 20,000km. This caused the siren to go off and treat me as an intruder. The barrel was replaced under warranty. The problem started off as intermittent, but in less than 2 weeks was 100% faulty, meaning the car could not be moved.
Since new, the car alarm would re-arm after 2-3 minutes if I forgot to get into the car, but the door's central locking remain unlocked. It's very embarrassing after having chatted with a friend, stepped into the car and the alarm goes off. The Subaru dealer said it's not a design defect as it is a bonus feature of the alarm to protect the car. My work around is to re-arm the car, then dis-arm it whenever I'm in a potentially embarrassing situation.
At 30,000km I started to notice a loud metallic rattling noise, which would occur after 4200 RPM, under hard acceleration whilst on long mountain journeys. I reported it to the Subaru dealership at the next service, and the mechanics were not able to find or replicate it. The rattling noise continued until about 65,000km, and went away by itself. I don't know what happened to the rattle.
The air-conditioner made a long creaking noise inside the dash whenever the recirculation button was pressed (ie. the vents switching between OPEN and CLOSED). This occurred after 2.5 years at 40,000km. The Subaru dealership re-lubricated and it's now working silently. The car was always parked out the sun.
Dangerous understeer and a ride that was back breaking until the suspension was worn in about 22,000km (country kilometres). I once ran wide whilst negotiating a right angled corner and went up over the gutter onto the pedestrian island (the car had done 15,000km). This was the first time I had overshot a 90 degree corner. I've been driving front wheel drive cars for the last 15 years and am very experienced with understeer. I promptly booked the WRX for a professional wheel alignment, and even asked for maximum negative camber on the front wheels to help counter the understeer (originally -0.5 degrees, after equalled -1.0 degrees). After the enhanced wheel alignment, the understeer was still troubling enough that I had to remain conscious to hold back on throttle usage on 90 degree corners.
Another friend had an even scarier off road excursion due to the understeer on his new 2010 WRX hatchback. So much so that he immediately went out and bought several aftermarket suspension modifications.
Short tyre life. The OEM tyres were bald at 40,000km (Bridgestone Potenza RE050A) with normal driving. The WRX was mainly a daily commuter driven mostly on perfect expressways. I think my wheel alignment with negative camber was necessary in the early days, but I switched back to the manufacturer's wheel alignment settings on the second set of tires. The tires wear very terribly with the slightly modified wheel alignments, and it's not worth it once the WRX suspension was worn in and working safely.
Front brake rotors were permanently warped from hot spots at 28,000km, whilst the brake pads had 50% remaining thickness. The Subaru dealer inspected the front rotors and blames the specific coastal/mountain route. The WRX is fully loaded with 4 passengers and full boot on snow and camping trips involving very steep hill descents.
Am surprised that WRX brakes and tyre life are so short, as I previously owned an economical Hyundai Excel/Accent where the OEM from brake rotor lasted 240,000km and OEM tyres lasted 160,000km with identical driving conditions. Even performed more laps at track days.
I'm more of a sporty driver who learned to drive around mountainous roads, enjoys corners and even tried a few track days.
Before I owned a WRX, I would often hear the saying: "WRXs make bad drivers look good".
I definitely think that sums this car up.
It's easy to drive fast. Has tonnes of traction and is very forgiving regardless of how awful the mistakes or punishment. It will increase your confidence regardless of who you are.
It has no obvious weaknesses in the performance department. All round great performer, excellent bang for buck, especially for what it is. Can keep up reasonably well with cars twice its price.
The biggest negative for me is that it lacks driver involvement. I'm used to a lot of steering feel, my 1996 Hyundai Excel/Accent (with no power steering) provided more steering feel.
The WRX's throttle response is a little slow, like it's designed for improving fuel economy in erratic city driving. Double de-clutching in this car is an annoying affair for advanced drivers. My father's 2000 Toyota Corolla has a hair trigger accelerator compared to the WRX.
The standard WRX is a great compromise as a daily driver that's fast, but without any horrible sacrifices.
The cabin and tyre noise is right at the limits of still being practical. I can hold a conversation with passengers without asking them to repeat themselves. I can just hear the car stereo at a safe listening volume.
Ride firmness is right at the limit of being practical for my level of tolerance. In mid conversation, I will stutter or pause due to an EXTREMELY bad pot hole. Though this is ultra rare, and the suspension will soak up the bumps 98% of the time.
In terms of running costs, treat the WRX as if it is a sports car. It attracts the insurance premiums of a sports car and has high pricing for warranty servicing and replacement parts. (eg. a replacement brake rotor will cost at least double and last half as long).
I agree with an earlier reviewer who said it's comfy, and recommends to own one for understanding the cult.
It's a fast car, but not a drivers car. Buy it if you're an easy driver or want to blitz the V8's on legal roads. For track days choose the STI.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th April, 2011