Subaru WRX 2014 review

The Subaru WRX returns, but this time with a more upmarket feel

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Subaru WRX moves the game on from the old car – it’s more luxurious, better looking and more practical than before. It’s still a niche choice, but the WRX faithful will love the firm, grippy chassis and unique engine. The bonus is that it’s more sophisticated to drive, which should help broaden its appeal and justify its place in UK showrooms.

In December 2012, Subaru stopped selling the WRX in the UK. The strong Japanese yen had inflated prices, while the thirsty 2.5-litre engine and dated interior did the car no favours. But now there’s an all-new WRX, which hits dealers in the US in April, with sales in the UK likely thanks to improved economic conditions. So what has the new car got in store?

Subaru WRX at LA Motor Show 

The WRX only comes as a four-door saloon – the bodystyle favoured by buyers in the major markets of North America and Australia. In a further concession to these regions, the car comes with the option of a CVT gearbox, although the new six-speed manual is the better choice.

We tried both gearboxes on roads that could double as rally stages – the environment the previous WRX was bred for. The CVT has eight pre-selected ratios you can flick between using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, but the auto gearbox can’t come close to the slick shifts of the six-speed.

The manual allows you to make more of the 2.0-litre direct-injected flat-four turbo, first seen in the UK with the new Forester. This engine still has a characterful warble under acceleration. It’s not as raucous as the old engine, but is a lot more vocal than the 2.0-litre turbo in the car’s obvious rival – the new Audi S3 saloon.

The Subaru’s meaty power delivery is complemented by a more advanced chassis. The four-wheel drive provides plenty of reassuring grip – some of our test route included ice-covered corners, but the WRX took these in its stride. 

New for this model is a torque vectoring system, which increases the feeling of agility – the car responds quickly to inputs from the new smaller steering wheel.

Adjustable dampers aren’t available, and the set-up is on the firm side. Hardcore Subaru fans might put up with the brittle ride – as it gives handling on a par with our current hot hatch favourite, the two-wheel-drive Ford Focus ST – although the average driver could be put off.

The new WRX still has a bland interior, but it feels classier than before. The styling isn’t exactly handsome, yet it’s better than its brutish predecessor’s. It’s more practical, too, with six per cent more boot space, at 340 litres. 

The new WRX is still a niche choice. But it does have a broader appeal than before, and it would be a shame if its UK fans didn’t get the chance to buy one here, especially if Subaru brings over the hotter STi next year. 

Most Popular

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value
Appreciators: Renault 5

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value

Looking to invest in a modern classic? Here are some cars destined to appreciate in value
4 May 2021
Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer
Ford Escort XR3

Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer

Hot hatches democratised performance, and one of the pioneers, the Ford Escort XR3, is now over 40 years old
5 May 2021
New 2022 Skoda Fabia grows in size and gets tech boost
Skoda Fabia - front
Skoda Fabia

New 2022 Skoda Fabia grows in size and gets tech boost

The new fourth-generation Skoda Fabia supermini is expected to hit UK showrooms early in 2022
4 May 2021