By far, the best sports sedan available for under $30K
Only one minor problem in 96K miles. At 43K miles a pin in the turbo wastegate linkage fell out. The car was able to run in this condition, but the turbocharger would not actuate. I diagnosed this problem myself and the next day my Subaru dealer replaced the 25-cent pin free of charge and under the 50K Subaru of America powertrain warranty.
A superb sports sedan at a bargain price. Zero to sixty MPH in 5.2 seconds places this car in the performance class. All wheel drive (AWD) and handling is awesome on twisty roads and a breeze on the freeways.
The creature comforts are... spartan. The car is built to be as light as possible, and this value affects everything on the vehicle. Take special care with the paint: it's thin and water-based, and doesn't like abrasion or bird droppings. The interior materials are very lightweight, but sufficiently durable to hold up well with reasonable care.
The WRX is a car built for drivers who value performance over creature luxuries. The 2003 is the last of the so-called "bug-eye" WRXs. I like the no-nonsense look of the WRX, especially the bug-eyes with their excellent supplementary driving lights. Be advised that the car will not win admiring glances from those who are easily seduced by the way a car looks.
The driver's position is well laid out. Visibility is very good and all controls within easy reach. The back seats were not designed to accommodate passengers comfortably on long trips, but will get the kids to school and back just fine. The WRX Sedan is an extremely comfortable sports car during long trips for two. Out here in the American West, I have taken many 8-13 hour long trips in the WRX and loved every minute of them.
The WRX is designed to be customized. I greatly improved the handling of my WRX by upgrading the standard wheels and tires to 17 X 7.5 SSR Competition forged aluminum wheels (weighing 12 lbs. apiece) and sticky 25/45/17 Kumho Ecsta MX "summer" tires. This wheel/tire combination gave my WRX improved dry and wet performance, and dogged durability on a wide variety of road and street conditions.
I provide impeccable maintenance for the WRX, including replacing the conventional oil and filter between 3-4K miles. The 2.0 liter turbo flat-4 is a high performance 230 HP engine and the base engine for the famous Subaru WRC rally car. Later models of the WRX use the 2.5 liter engine that provides a modest 10 HP gain.
I do not recommend the Subaru WRX for young drivers. The car is a small, light and very powerful performer that can run away from unwary drivers.
I've owned small sports cars for 35 years. The WRX is my favorite so far.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th August, 2007