The Motorist crew witnessed the unveiling of the all-new Subaru WRX at the Singapore Motor Show. We also had the privilege of seeing highly tuned examples at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
It’s heartening to see that the new Subaru cars still retain the tunability of their legendary forefathers, but with less overall compromise. Even the decision to ditch a manual or a traditional torque converter automatic didn’t overtly sully the WRX experience. But we are automotive journalists, we do not just attend motor shows.
Before the official launch of the WRX locally, Subaru invited us to have a test drive of their latest performance offering on a closed circuit in Changi Exhibition Centre.
But Enough About the Background, How do These Drive?
Rather well. And that came as a genuine surprise, considering the CVT transmission the cars have been fitted with. It’d be good if the cars came with proper manual gearboxes, or at the very least a DCT of some kind. But I can assure you that the CVT in these cars do not detract from the overall driving experience. They aren’t constantly hunting for the right ratio, and always have power on tap, making for a car that feels properly composed at any road speed.The EJs of old have made way for Subaru’s new FA24. In WRX trim, it is turbocharged and capable of developing 275 bhp. The power is deployed to all four wheels via Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive system.To properly test the car, Subaru set up a makeshift course at Changi Exhibition Centre. It contained a good mix of fast-ish corners and sections that were properly tight/compact, and the complex came at you pretty quickly. A good opportunity to test the car’s brakes and its ability to perform rapid changes of direction.Through the faster stuff, and with a touch of trail braking, we’re happy to report that the new WRX is every bit a sports saloon that we’ve all grown up to love.
There’s a sense that the car has been set up to understeer, as it is really difficult to get the rear end to break loose.This also means that you can jump back on the power again once you feel the front end regain grip, without fear of snap oversteer from a sudden loss in rear traction. Again, as the car felt decently darty, you tend to start carrying too much excess momentum through the lower speed corners, only for you to find the limits of the grip in front via some proper understeer.A white WRX Wagon tS was also on site. This features much of the mechanicals of the regular car, but with some additional tweaks. Not much was revealed to us at the time of the drive, but there were definitely tweaks to the power split, suspension and even the rear differential.And these changes made a massive difference - where the regular Sedan struggled, the Wagon tS was competent, allowing you to carry even more speed than you first thought. At the end of T1, we were hitting speeds of about 90 km/h at the apex.
In the tS, this was at 110 km/h. In the technical section of the course, you can feel the extra rotation offered by the changes to the rear end set up. The front still wants to understeer, but the rear end is also pushed along sideways as a result of the power split. This meant less understeer and a car that is significantly more composed if you wanted to drive it like an absolute hoon.
The Overall Experience
The interior is a big step up from the Subarus of old. It is a properly competent vehicle, capable of taking the fight to some of the lower-end Euros. Again, mega impressive, considering that you’d really be paying for the powertrain combo.Quality materials, decent overall space and Subaru practicality means either WRX model would suit your day-to-day needs very well.In summary, the first impressions are good, but just how usable is it remains to be seen, so stay tuned for our upcoming in-depth review!
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