Back in the late nineties and early noughties a titanic battle between red and blue played out in the World Rally Championship. It was Mitsubishi versus Subaru and I was in the blue corner cheering for the late great Richard Burns. And in our garage there was a silver 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX.
It was with very fond memories then that I held the keys to this Subaru WRX RS version with the 6-speed manual gearbox. As soon as I pressed the start button and the flat four boxer engine rumbled to life, I was transported back to those carefree days driving my sexy Rexy.
Looks are subjective, but I think the current WRX shape looks good, although not as nice as the first generation Rex, which for me is the best-looking Subaru Impreza ever built. I’m not a fan of the chunky black plastic wheel arches and side skirts, but I think the rear diffuser and quad exhausts make the backend look tough.
All current WRX models have the same turbocharged horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine, with maximum power of 202kW at 5,600rpm and maximum torque of 350Nm between 2,000-5,200rpm. The 6-speed manual gearbox would be my preferred choice, not just because of its sweet ‘box, but the auto version of the WRX comes with a CVT gearbox. The official combined fuel consumption is 9.9L/100km and for my time reminiscing in the WRX I used 12.6L/100km of 95RON petrol.
The WRX has a lovely weighted clutch and the 6-speed manual ‘box is easy to navigate and chasing the 6,000rpm hard cut red line was enjoyable, all while the Boxer engine emits familiar Subaru sound. The WRX feels solid in the corners thanks to all-wheel drive and although the performance on offer was fun, it did not set my world on fire.
The front Sports bucket seats are covered with grippy Ultrasuede trim with contrasting black and grey highlights. Both front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear, 2-way lumbar support with no memory positions. The passenger seat is the same, but misses out on the lumbar support.
I like the flat bottomed leather steering wheel with WRX logo and faux carbon fibre highlights, but like many other modern vehicles the voice control button on the steering wheel is designated by a masculine silhouette on the button. The voice control functionality worked well for making phone calls and changing the radio station, but it did not understand my input when I tried to set a destination on the sat nav.
The driver’s dash still has an analogue taco and speedo with a digital display between them, but the 2000 WRX certainly didn’t have the 11.6″ vertical touchscreen with satellite navigation. The WRX has wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 10 Harman Kardon speakers with a subwoofer and amplifier. Other media sources available include AM/FM radio, DAB+, Bluetooth, USB, iPod/iPhone and to really make me feel at home a single CD player under the arm rest.
I found that the cubby at front of centre console was awkwardly shaped and didn’t fit my phone in no matter which way I tried it. If your phone does fit you will be happy that the cubby has a grippy base, so it won’t slide around, with two USB-A ports, one 12V socket, and one AUX point to connect to the infotainment system. Another feature the 2000 WRX didn’t have was cup holders and there are two in the centre console of this WRX, one deeper than the other and also large drink bottle storage cubbies in the front doors.
The rear seats are firm to sit on and I found that the leg room was okay for me, but my head was touching the roof. If you are imprinting a love of the Boxer engine sound on your young children you have two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but only enough room for two car seats due the vehicle’s width.
The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two shallow cup holders in it, meaning drink bottles may fall over, but you also get good-sized drink bottle storage cubbies in the rear doors. The rear seats are heated, but there are no rear air vents, something my children can’t live without. How would they have survived in the ‘old’ days!? There are two USB-A ports located at the rear of the centre console and one feature I think all vehicles should have, mats over the entire rear floor including the transmission tunnel.
The WRX has a power assisted boot lid with a button under the lid, on the key fob and in the cabin to open it. The boot is a manual close with no grip points on the inside the boot lid so you need to pull down on the outside of the boot and this could potentially scratch it in the long term. The boot is a good size for weekly shop or a pram and a small shop, but there are no hooks or tie down points in the boot space and just one tiny light. If more space is required the rear seats have a 40:60 split fold mechanism and there is a temporary use spare tyre is located under the boot floor.
This Subaru WRX does not have an ANCAP safety rating, but does come with dual front, dual front side, dual curtain, driver’s knee and front passenger seat cushion airbags. Active safety features fitted to the manual WRX include Blind Spot Monitor, Front View Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Side View Monitor. It also has standard cruise control and a quite intelligent driver monitoring system that scans you when you get the vehicle and will tell you to keep your eyes on the road if you look away for too long. You get a standard rear view camera with no front or rear parking sensors, but an option to see multiple camera views by pressing the button on the centre console for either front, side and rear view. For convenience you also get auto lights, high beam assist and auto wipers.
All new Subaru’s come with 5 Year/Unlimited Kilometre Warranty period and 12 months roadside assistance. The service interval for the WRX is 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first and a five-year service plan for the manual WRX can be purchased upfront for $2,603.39.
I like the look of this WRX RS, but I do not think it is as pretty as the original Rexy and I feel this WRX also needs some extra power to make it more fun like the old school Rexes. This Subaru WRX RS manual has no options fitted and is priced at $51,490 plus on-road costs. You can configure your new WRX online or visit your preferred Subaru retailer for more information.
|That familiar Boxer sound||I would like a bit more power|
|The sweet 6-speed ‘box||No rear air vents|
|It has a CD player||No front or rear parking sensors|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.