2012 Subaru WRX Test Drive Review
The 2012 Subaru WRX ain’t pretty, but it will utterly blow your mind if you take the opportunity to explore its prodigious capabilities. You can buy this brilliant performance car, one with a heritage steeped in rallying and entirely suitable for carrying your family, for as little as $26,345, not including exorbitant insurance premiums or speeding tickets. And that, friends, is a bargain.
Yes, we know we’re heaping all this praise on the standard WRX, not the even more capable WRX STI. And yes, the WRX STI is a more sophisticated machine, a genuine sports car capable of embarrassing vehicles commanding twice its $34,845 sticker. But the standard WRX, the one with the turbocharged 265-horsepower, 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine, is an impressive piece of engineering in its own right.
DETAILING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A WRX AND A WRX STI
Before we move on, let’s explain the differences between the standard WRX and the WRX STI. For the extra $8,500 that it costs, the STI provides a more robust turbocharger, 40 more horsepower and 44 additional pound-feet of torque, a close-ratio gearbox with an extra gear, a Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) system to tailor powertrain response, and an all-wheel-drive system equipped with a Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) to manually vary torque distribution to the front and rear wheels.
Additionally, the WRX STI is equipped with a performance suspension with inverted front struts and aluminum lower L-arms, larger disc brakes that are ventilated at each corner and equipped with four-piston front and two-piston rear Brembo calipers, a Super Sport ABS system, and 18-inch wheels with 245/40 tires. STI models also get HID headlights, integrated turn signal indicators embedded into the side mirror housings, and, on WRX STI Sedans, an enormous spoiler that effectively proclaims: “Please, Mr. Officer, pay attention to my driving and ticket me for any and every minor infraction.”
Inside, the WRX STI is equipped with heated front seats, a unique steering wheel, and leather and Alcantara upholstery. All this stuff adds 176 extra pounds of weight to the WRX.
YOU DON’T NEED ALL THIS STUFF
Before you conclude that you need everything that comes with the WRX STI, think about what you could be doing with $8,500. You could pay off credit cards, you could invest it, you could blow it on an unforgettable family vacation, you could get your teenager a safe used car to take to school – the list is a long one. And by foregoing the STI in favor of the standard WRX, you’ll still get a terrific performance car.
ABOUT THE 2012 SUBARU WRX
If you agree with this strategy, you can choose between the WRX Hatchback and the WRX Sedan. They have the same starting price. Standard, Premium and Limited trim levels are available, and we test drove the Limited model with the optional navigation system, bumping the price to $30,845.
We advise against the navigation system, which has a tiny screen with tinier controls afflicted by reflections and glare. Seriously, it is agony to use, and charging $1,000 for this feature is an affront to your intelligence. Instead, buy a smartphone and download a navigation app.
While we drove the WRX Sedan, we would recommend the hatchback for its larger, more practical cargo space. Either way, there’s room enough for four adults, so putting kids into the back seat is no problem. We effortlessly shuttled a toddler and pre-schooler in forward-facing child seats, and our smaller stroller fit easily into the sedan’s trunk.
DRIVING THE 2012 SUBARU WRX
This is a raw and raucous machine. Fire the ignition, and the engine grumbles to life, vibrating like only a boxer engine does. Before you even select a gear, the chugging idle quality proves addictive, and bestows upon the WRX plenty of personality.
Setting off in first gear, the clutch is heavy and substantial, and feels like it can withstand serious abuse. Turbo lag is a momentary irritation, especially if you round a city corner in second gear and try to accelerate with any degree of authority, but for the most part the WRX is mechanically symphonic, occasionally delivering more thrust than anticipated once the turbocharger spools up. It is a genuine pleasure to whoosh through the WRX’s five forward gears.
The real fun comes when introducing the car to twists and turns. The WRX’s suspension is rather softly sprung, providing adequate roll control and nothing more. There is definitely room for aftermarket tweaking here. That said, the WRX is stunningly capable in turns. The 235/45R17 Dunlop SP Sport 01 summer performance tires grip tenaciously, and handling is extraordinary. The front seats grip just enough to keep the driver from getting flung into the passenger’s seat.
Furthermore, the WRX supplies exceptional communication through its lightly filtered suspension and light, crisp steering. Add a set of indefatigable brakes actuated using a pedal with excellent feel and modulation, and the WRX is an absolute joy to drive at all times. We even managed to average 21.6 mpg during a week of driving, landing on the high side of EPA ratings of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Evidently, we didn’t have quite enough fun while the WRX was in our possession.
Clearly, the Subaru WRX perfectly aligns with the Speedy Daddy profile. We just wish it were better looking, and attracted less attention from law enforcement.
SPEEDY DADDY SAYS…
Did you ever date someone that you didn’t want to be seen with in public, but who was so phenomenal in the sack that you just couldn’t resist them? Yeah. The Subaru WRX is like that.
– Christian Wardlaw
2012 Subaru WRX Photos Copyright 2012 Speedy Daddy Media, Inc.