Published on March 30th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Subaru Impreza WRX 2.4L Boxer Test Drive Review In Malaysia
Has this latest WRX the necessary performance to rival European sports sedans?
You are probably wondering when this latest WRX was launched in Malaysia. Well, there was NO official media launch and instead this latest WRX was just quietly brought in some time in the last quarter of 2022 and put on display at the Motor Image Malaysian headquarters in Petaling Jaya and also at selected Subaru showrooms nationwide.
Interestingly, without any social media ‘push’, the company just left it to ‘word of mouth’ to get selected Malaysians interested in this latest WRX and it worked. There are already 10 new owners driving around this new Impreza WRX in Malaysia.
Well, it did take some time and now, months later, the interest on this latest WRX is growing. Some negative remarks as well due to its radically different look, and mostly positive because if its heritage, status and also proven drive dynamics.
This is after all an Impreza and without fail there will be enough customers in Malaysia who will want a unit in their garage.
So, we asked for a test drive unit and after a couple of weeks of waiting we got to test drive this latest all wheel drive ‘Boxer’ powered sports sedan.
Let us start with the asking price (which we guessed in September 2011 quite accurately). There are two drivetrain variants offered. The WRX with a manual gearbox (yes, there is also a 6-speed manual gearbox variant available) is priced at RM286,245.
The WRX with a CVT is priced a little higher at RM296,245 and gains some added features over the manual. You get an electronic parking brake with auto hold, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, SI-Drive (Sport Sharp, Sport and Intelligent drive modes) and rear air-condition vents.
Both variants selling prices are on-the-road without insurance and includes a five-year/100,000-km warranty.
Now, the reason why we shared the selling prices before the review is this.
The rivals for this WRX come from Europe. There is the all new BMW 3 Series, the 320i Sport which is priced at RM283,800. It is a 2-wheel drive sedan with an inline four-cylinder engine that delivers a maximum of 184hp and 300Nm of torque, accelerating the 320i from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 7.4 seconds with top speed capped at 235 km/h.
The WRX has a turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer putting out 271 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm. This is enough for a 0 to 100 km/h time of 6.0 seconds for the MT and 6.1 seconds for the CVT.
Also included in the mix is the popular Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the C300 which is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 254bhp and an impressive 400Nm of torque. With this engine, it takes just 6 seconds for this luxury sedan to go from 0 to 100km/h. Its top speed is capped at 250km/h. Price at RM330k its about RM35k more expensive over the CVT equipped WRX.
Interestingly, a real direct rival will be the Audi A5 Sportback Quattro which delivers 250 horsepower and 370Nm of torque and gets from 0-100km/h in just 6 seconds, just like with this WRX. Its asking price is RM377,900 because it is fully imported like the Impreza WRX.
This means, it is more than RM90k expensive over the WRX and has a similar cabin size. Well, now that you know who the rivals are and their pricing, let’s get to our drive review.
Get inside this latest WRX and the first thing you notice is the revised dashboard. The high-performance feel grows stronger as soon as the driver enters this WRX and grips the flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated switches for audio, voice recognition, and the high feature EyeSight safety controls.
Power windows with auto up/down on both driver and passenger sides; 60/40-split fold-down rear seat; power door locks and side mirrors are standard.
Front and center in the cabin, and highlighting the driver-focused interior, is an all-new tablet-style 11.6-inch full HD center information display. As with a smartphone, app icons can be moved and configured based on personal preference.
The 11.6-inch multimedia systems retain a great feature which are physical buttons and knobs for frequently used functions like music volume and A/C temperature.
Lets not stay too long on the looks department as we feel this is personal taste over anything else. However, the new ‘Orange’ color is very striking and not too bright like we find in some new pickup trucks and sports cars.
The front fenders are now made of aluminum which reduces the overall vehicle weight by 5.0 lb. The rear deck lid has an integrated low-profile rear spoiler in matching body color. Rear taillights are designed to light up brightly and seem to attract attention.
The most important section of any performance vehicle review. From ignition, the familiar Boxer rumble can be heard and it is very welcomed. Having a 2007 model Subaru Legacy GT 2.0L in our garage, we are already familiar with Boxer performance and one might say a little biased towards it.
Well, there is no denying, in ‘Intelligent’ mode, this car is mild fuel sipper and delivers enough performance to keep up with the rivals and some. Steering feel is tight and quick.
Along our potholed Petaling Jaya roads the ride remains quite composed despite the low profile 18-inch tires and even when riding a highway off-ramp at speed, this WRX never flinches unless you try really hard.
Activate ‘Sports Mode’ and the WRX changes its ‘spots’. The engine rumble moves up a few decibels and the response is very engaging. The car urges the driver to take the engine revolutions up and the new Global Platform delivers a stiff yet very predictable handling.
In ‘Sports Sharp’ mode, the attitude of this WRX changes again and bring a smile to any drivers face. It is only letdown by the CVT which lacks the response time of a 6-speed manual. But in todays traffic filled city roads, the CVT works fine and offers a balanced compromise for this performance sedan.
Subaru Impreza WRX 2.4 Boxer Specifications
Engine: Direct Injection Turbocharged 16v horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder petrol
Max power: 271bhp @ 4,800-5,600rpm
Max torque: 350Nm @ 2,000-5,200rpm
Top Speed: 233km/h
0-100km/h: 6.3 seconds
Price: RM296,245.00 for the CVT