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A U G U S T 2 0 1 7




Dr Peter Randell


RX? World Rally Cross!

That is where this

amazing car had its birth

23 years ago. It was a killer, knocking

out the opposition with its combination

of four-wheel drive, reliability and high

output for the weight. And now?

Here is a 4WD car with a two-litre

turbo-charged engine pumping out

197kW and 350Nm yet looking like

any sedate family car.

There is a gaping air intake on the

bonnet to raise suspicions and four

exhaust pipes adding menace at

the rear, below a rakish lower finned

rear spoiler.

Keyless entry shows off the well-

bolstered leather seats, the driver

having eight-way electric controls.

Red stitching further delineates the

premium version, which also scores an

eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo

with woofer, and a sunroof. There’s also

Sat Nav, Pandora and Siri capability.

The seats are very comfortable,

including the back two which have

plenty of space. I had the Continuously

Variable transmission option, which

can be modified with the Mode button

to be sportier. In Sport mode, the CVT

is forced into an eight-geared manual,

able to be controlled by the flappy

paddles behind the racy D-shaped

steering wheel.

A 6.2-inch touch screen dominates

the centre console, and above that is

the rear view camera’s screen, which

also shows the view from a camera,

mounted below the passenger’s rear

view mirror. No more kerbed mags!

The entire dash and interior has

jumped up more than a notch since

those early rally days, much of it now

having the tactility of a classy German.

There were no rattles or squeaks, even

over some of my more detested speed

humps, all in keeping with Subaru’s

reputation for reliability and toughness.

The engine deserves special mention,

being Subaru’s brilliant concept and

use of a horizontally opposed four-

cylinder engine lying flat and low in

the engine bay. This keeps the centre

of gravity low, enhancing roadholding

and smoothness. It also results in

a characteristic burble allowing

the cognoscenti to know

when a Subie is coming. An

interesting technical point:

the engine is ‘square’– bore =

86mm, stroke = 86mm.

Did you work out where Toyota

got its moniker for its sports

car, the Toyota 86? Yes, it is this exact

engine, built by Subaru for them, but

sans turbo.

The WRX is a joy to drive, having been

developed as a driver’s car, Subaru

has held onto all the good bits like

all-wheel-drive, sharp steering, good

brakes and a hand brake. That low

engine helps the quality tyres to hang

on hard in corners. Push too hard, and

the torque vectoring system activates,

braking the inner front wheel to stop

understeering into the scenery.

Other safety gear includes a driver’s

knee bag, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear

Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist

and dusk and rain sensors.

That World Rally Cross killer of

23 years ago has grown up, and

become a sophisticated, quick and

safe 21


century family car!





RRP from $38,990 + ORC; this vehicle

$45,990 +ORC. Vehicle supplied by

Subaru Osborne Park.


It might look sedate but the Subaru WRX is a 4WD car with a two-litre turbo-charged engine.