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First Drive: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX


Income is what separates a WRX buyer from an STI owner, Subaru demographics show. The two groups want the same thing from their cars (namely, speed). But despite not being able to afford the STI, lately the WRX folks have been satisfied. It started in the 2009 model year, when the WRX's boost to 265 horsepower resulted in straight-line performance uncomfortably close to that of the STI. This year the similarities are even closer: Little bro is wearing big bro's clothes.

The 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX carries the same wide, swaggering, come-on-and-try-me bodywork as the STI. The same aggressive fascia, the same bulging fenders -- the rears actually poke out beyond the taillights -- and the same quad-exhaust pipes that protrude from the very Bmw M5-ish rear valance.

 Flared fenders categorize fast Subarus. Yet, when the third-generation SUBARU IMPREZA WRX arrived, in 2008, it didn't have them. No, the WRX wore these flat wheel arches more fitting to a Corolla than a rally-bred performance machine. This new wide-body is a welcome return to the sort of aggression that the last-generation WRX had dripping off its flanks -- lacking in pretty, ripe with attitude.

Visually, differences from the STI exist only in the grille, badges, and spoiler. Underneath the sheetmetal, of course, it's a different story. There are no powertrain changes for 2011, but that's no bad thing: The WRX uses a 265-horse, 2.5-liter flat-four with 244-pound-feet of torque, and a viscous center differential. The key for this year's WRX lies in how the bodywork affected the drive.

 For one, the WRX's coefficient of drag is improved by 5 percent, according to Subaru. But, crucially, the bodywork necessitated widening of the front and rear track by 1.5 inches; overall width grows 2.2 inches, to 70.7. The new stance also allowed one-inch-wider wheels (now 17 x 8.0) and 10-millimeter-wider tires (now 245/45/R17). Most important, the larger wheels and tires weigh less than the outgoing rolling stock. Overall, the car's increase in size raises its weight by a negligible 33 pounds. The extension also required new suspension components, which allowed Subaru to alter the feel of the car. So in came new struts, anti-roll bars, and firmer rear subframe bushings.

(Source)


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