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2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

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Subaru Impreza WRX Review: The Subaru WRX looks like any other four-door compact car with one gaping exception: a huge hood scoop that feeds air to the intercooler. So now the 2009 WRX feels exciting again after an experiment with a softer model in 2008.

The Subaru WRX must be going through its college years. It just can't seem to "find itself." A few years ago, when it joined a punk rock band and wore spikey green hair, the WRX wanted to be Subaru's wild child. Its Stratocaster engine, total lack of sound insulation, gothic suspension and giant, drug-induced rear wing made it fun to hang with, but not something your parents would appreciate.

Last year, the WRX decided to wear a Polo shirt and khakis. It was softer, quieter and smoother, the kind of car your parents wouldn't object to, but it lost its soul in the process. And its circle of friends.

Now the 2009 WRX has taken another neck-snapping change of direction: It's still wearing Ralph Lauren, but also getting a barbed-wire tattoo around its bicep after a long night of bar-hopping. It wants to be wild again, just not too wild.

Most noticeably, the latest WRX gets a huge boost in horsepower to compensate for last year's dull engine. The 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four makes 265 hp, a whopping 41 hp jump over last year's model.

It's a syrupy engine, just dripping with mechanical sweetness. It doesn't have much low-end power, but once the revs pick up and the turbo kicks in, you get a hot blast of acceleration that makes road signs look like a blur.

The suspension is also much rougher than last year, which is a good thing if you liked the old WRX's fun-to-drive bits. It has a firm feel that gives you a good sense of the road, and it stays relatively flat in corners.

Styling-wise, there are only two words you need to know: hood scoop. And clutch haters, be warned. You can only get the WRX with a five-speed manual transmission.

Like the 2008 WRX, most of this car looks fairly boring, like any other nondescript four-door car. It doesn't have a Raytheon rear wing or Darth Vader fascia, but it does have a hood scoop wider than Texas that shoves bucketfuls of air over the intercooler.

Inside, it looks like any old baby carrier, with the exception of the red "WRX" letters emblazoned into the seatbacks. The front seats offer plenty of side support for hard cornering, and the dash looks slick and modern, even if it feels cheap.

What was tested? The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX Premium with a base price of $27,495. Options on the test car: The XM Satellite Radio kit at $453. Total MSRP Price as tested including the $695 destination charge: $28,643.

Why avoid it? Some people think it's too abrasive.

Why buy it? It's returned to its roots as a raw, race-inspired car with all-wheel drive and a powerful engine.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Finally, if you like any of the WRX's previous personalities, don't worry. You can still get them. The super-fast, noisy, raw, druggie WRX is now called the STI. And the softer, slower, preppie version is now sold as the Impreza GT.

Pricing is as you'd expect. You can get the tattooed preppie WRX for $25,495, the clean preppie Impreza GT for $27,000, and the punk rocker STI for $35,000. Take your pick.

By Derek Price AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Byline: Subaru Review provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net

Subaru Home Page

Column Name: Fast Subaru returns to spunky roots

Topic: The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

Word Count: 641

Photo Caption:  The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

Photo Credits: Subaru Impreza Internet Media

Series #:  2009 - 32

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2009 Subaru Impreza

Download the Original Image File here:   2009 Subaru Impreza

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