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The Subaru Impreza WRX is a blisteringly quick small car that garners notice from even exotic sports car drivers. Subaru's history of rallying comes through with this car's turbocharged engine, racing seats and capable all-wheel drive system. But underneath all of the spoilers and rally-inspired styling, there's a reasonably practical small sedan or hatchback that could serve as daily transportation.
The WRX is based on the last-generation Impreza and shares that model's reasonable amount of room. It comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 265 horsepower and a five-speed manual transmission only. All-wheel drive, a Subaru hallmark, is standard. Also included are features such as power windows, locks with remote keyless entry, power mirrors, automatic climate control with air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and an iPod connector, split-folding rear seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Going for the Premium adds a big spoiler on the trunklid of sedan models, as well as front fog lights, a power sunroof and a Cold Weather Package that bundles heated front seats, heated outside mirrors and a windshield de-icer. Finally, the Limited model adds HID headlamps and leather upholstery.
The STI is a higher-performance subgroup of the WRX line, and incorporates even more blistering performance and handling characteristics. It gets a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's been turbocharged to produce 305 horsepower. The only transmission available is a six-speed manual with power being sent through all four wheels with the all-wheel drive system. The STI comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry, front and rear limited slip differentials, lowered sports suspension, HID headlamps, Alcantara upholstered sport seats and a six-speaker audio system with USB input and Bluetooth. The STI is also available as a hatchback. The STI Limited adds a power sunroof, special BBS alloy wheels and leather upholstery.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution offers more advanced driver aids and a sequential shifting automated manual for those who don't want a traditional clutch pedal, but has a harsher ride and costs more when similarly equipped. The Volkswagen Golf R has a much nicer interior that is incorporated into a flexible three or five-door hatchback design and is more refined to drive, but isn't as quick or exciting as any WRX and cost a fair amount of money more. The Audi S4 is similarly quick with a six-cylinder engine but is much more expensive. The Ford Focus ST is spacious inside and comes available with an impressive array of technology not available on the WRX, but it's not as quick and its front-wheel drive configuration puts limits on handling abilities.
For people looking for a machine closely resembling an outrageous rally machine. The powerful engine with loads of turbo boost provides for a thrilling ride while the standard all-wheel drive puts that power onto the road. Few competitors can match its ability to give an exciting drive for a relatively low price, even if rivals are arguably more refined. For thrill seekers who want something with added practicality, the WRX and STI are worth a drive.
The WRX includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated exclusively to a five-speed manual and Subaru's trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive system. Available as either a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, the WRX includes as standard power windows, locks with remote keyless entry, power mirrors, rear wiper for the hatchback, height-adjustable driver's seat, split-folding rear seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for Bluetooth phone integration and six-speaker audio system with iPod integration, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, trip computer, automatic climate control and an anti-theft system.
The Limited adds a touch of luxury to the performance WRX package and could be regarded as the most civilized model of the lineup. Included are HID headlamps and leather upholstery, each of them adding a touch of class to the exterior and interior of the WRX. The available Navigation Package includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system, HD radio, a USB port with full iPod control and iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio streaming, text message capability and SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic.
The Premium model includes more refinement to go with the performance-minded base car. The Premium includes features such as front fog lights, a trunk spoiler for the sedan, heated mirrors, windshield de-icer, heated front seats and a power sunroof. The available Navigation Package includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system, HD radio, a USB port with full iPod control and iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio streaming, text message capability and SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic.
The WRX STI comes with an emphasis on performance, but also includes the basic features expected of a small car these days. The highlight is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's turbocharged with 305 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive. Equipment levels are similar to the base WRX and WRX Premium. A lowered sports suspension is standard, as are Brembo brakes, front and rear limited-slip differentials, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, HID headlamps, power windows, heated mirrors, locks with remote keyless entry, heated front seats, height-adjustable driver's seat, automatic climate control, Alcantara-covered sport seats and a six-speaker audio system with USB input and iPod interface and Bluetooth. Split-folding rear seats, a windshield de-icer and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with integrated audio and Bluetooth controls. A hatchback is an option that also includes BBS alloy wheels, as is the available Navigation Package includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system, HD radio, a USB port with full iPod control and iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio streaming, text message capability and SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic.
The Limited adds some more comfort features to the STI sedan. These include leather upholstery, power sunroof and 18-inch BBS alloy wheels. The available Navigation Package includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system, HD radio, a USB port with full iPod control and iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio streaming, text message capability and SiriusXM satellite radio and traffic.
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Similar performance and money but still has harsh ride and lacks hatchback option.
Quick, refined and comfortable but much more expensive.
Well-made, flexible interior and much more refined driving experience at the cost of performance and excitement.
Well priced, better in-car technology, but not as fast and comes only in front-wheel drive.