If one was a car enthusiast throughout the 90s and 2000s, you’d probably know about the Subaru Impreza. During that era, the Impreza made a name for itself as a worthy competitor in the world of rallying. It is also known to be highly potent as a street car with its basic formula as a turbocharged four wheel drive sedan. But since it wasn’t the only car that was built on the same basis, it was also known to have a very heated rivalry with the Mitsubishi Evo which was equally matched to the Impreza.
Despite that, while the Mitsubishi Evo has already ceased production, Subaru continued to build the Impreza which is now only known as the WRX VA. Most of the time, the WRX always becomes the overshadowed sibling to the more sought after WRX STI due to being slightly slower and cheaper model, but for the VA model, it has some unique traits that even the STI does not have.
On paper, while the STI still uses the older EJ25 motor, the WRX is running on a newer turbocharged FA20 motor which is the same motor of its naturally aspirated counterpart the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86. What is the significance? According to some tuners who have built the FA20 like Crawford Racing in the US, despite being the engine with the smaller displacement, it is built more robustly making it capable to handle a good amount of horsepower. This means the FA20 has a lot of untapped tuning potential.
When it comes to the engine’s behaviour, the turbocharged FA20 in the WRX has a more linear torque curve compared to the STI. With boost coming in at a bit over 2000 rpm, the power comes in very smoothly throughout the rev range which makes the feel slightly similar to a naturally aspirated motor which in my opinion makes the WRX far more predictable compared to the STI.
During my afternoon with the car, I find that the WRX was such a joy to drive even in the city. The view from inside the cabin is not obscured at all with unnecessary blind spots. The sitting position and the meter cluster layout is spot on despite having a simple interior. Steering feels weighted but it gives the necessary feedback to the driver. Of course, it is not a perfect car since I kind of wished the brakes would respond faster and probably slightly wider tires for better grip.
Even though the WRX may have these minor flaws, it is one of those very few cars that I would love a chance to drive again. The impression that it gives to me as a driver is just very welcoming and enjoyable. Yes, it is not the more powerful STI but when given the choice, I will still choose the WRX. Even though it lacks on performance, it is more of a well-rounded car which feels good to live with.