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Thread: 2009 Subaru 2.5 GT

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2009 Subaru 2.5 GT

    There is something to be said for stealth.

    A lot, actually.

    As much fun as a quick car can be, it's no fun getting caught driving it as it was built to be driven - and high visibility performance cars tend to get their drivers caught more often because they look the part. Cops notice you, even if you're not really doing anything. And if you are doing something - even if there are several other cars around doing the same thing - guess who he'll draw a bead on?

    Which is why I'm a fan of the Subaru Impreza 2.5 GT. You probably haven't even heard of it - unlike the flamingly obvious and well-known (including to cops) Impreza WRX.

    But in one way at least, that anonymity is a huge plus - at least in my book!

    WHAT IT IS

    The 2.5 GT is a high-performance version of the Impreza compact sedan. It is basically last year's WRX package, but packaged more discreetly. It has no Playstation-esque wing on the trunk, no 747-style driving lights in the grille; no audaciously anodized BBS rims. But it does have a 224 horsepower turbocharged engine, sport suspension and AWD. It's also well-equipped with luxury and convenience equipment, including climate control AC, sunroof, heated seats, a 10-speaker MP3/CD stereo and high-end interior trim.

    The '09 GT is available in both sedan ($26,995) and hatchback wagon ($27,495) bodystyles.

    WHAT'S NEW

    The 2.5 GT package is new for 2009. It slots in just below the high-strung WRX on performance - and well above the econo-box standard-issue Impreza.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The GT is equipped with a 224 hp, turbocharged "boxer" (horizontally opposed) four-cylinder engine. It is paired with a four-speed automatic - the only transmission offered with the GT package. (More on this below.)

    Zero to 60 happens in just under 6 seconds; top speed is 130-plus.

    Fuel economy is only so-so, 19 city, 24 highway.

    RIDE & HANDLING

    The GT is being marketed as a kind of low-profile WRX and in keeping with that concept, it is cushier than the '09 WRX - which was pumped up to 265 hp and tuned to be more aggressive in order to stay neck and neck with the similarly aggressive MazdaSpeed3 and Mitsubishi EVO.

    That doesn't mean the GT's a softie - it's just not as single-minded as the WRX. put another way, last year's WRX would out-handle just about anything in its class - and the '09 GT is more or less the '08 car albeit loaded up with the automatic transmission and more standard luxury equipment.

    So, yeah, it can corner.

    But it's also more everyday usable (and family friendly) than the current WRX - which in addition to having a tighter, less forgiving suspension is also now only offered with a manual transmission.

    The GT's suspension doesn't wallow or lean but it does have enough give to feel like a normal car when driven normally. The '09 WRX, meanwhile, is definitely and obviously a high-performance car - and feels it, 24-7.

    Standard 17-inch rims, sport tires and the same excellent steering gear as last year's WRX give the GT athletic reflexes better than almost any "regular" sedan and keep it competitive as a driver's car with out-of-the-closet sport sedans and wagons.

    If you need or want it a bit fiercer, there's always the WRX. But you may not like the WRX as much as an everyday ride.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The GT's big draw is its restrained styling - relative to the gaudy WRX, which is one of the Top 10 cop magnet cars on the road. Buyers who've hit their 30s - and (hopefully) acquired some learned-the-hard-way lessons about flashing their need for speed - will appreciate the GT's subtlety. No doubt it's cheaper to insure, too.

    I just wish Subaru had taken it one step further and at least offered a "hood scoop delete" option (as Ford does with the Mustang GT). It's no engineering feat to rig a cold air system that draws air in from somewhere less obvious - such as through the grille. But the GT's scoop is at least low-profile and doesn't draw much attention.

    Having your choice of either conventional sedan or five-door hatchback wagon bodystyles is a plus. The hatchback offers significantly more cargo space (44 cubic feet total; 19 cubic feet behind the second row seats) than the sedan (11.3 cubic foot trunk).

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    A Subaru selling point has long been the company's sturdy, powerful boxer engines - which have a reputation for diesel-like durability. Stories of these things racking up 200,000-plus miles without major work are pretty common and I can vouch from personal experience that in my area of rural SW Virginia, ancient (20 years old and older) Subarus still in regular, daily-driver service are a common sight.

    The Impreza GT's main rivals from Mazda and Mitsubishi have narrowed the gap on the issue of overall quality look/feel, but the GT is still one of the best-put-together cars of its type available. Though relatively inexpensive, it compares favorably with cars in the entry-luxury segment ($30k and up) when you look at the materials used, how everything fits together - and feels.

    Only a few things detract from the overall picture - the most obvious of which is the four-speed automatic, which in 2009 ought to be at least a five-speed automatic (if not a six-speed automatic).

    GTs come standard with high-capacity four-whee-disc brakes with ABS, stability control, side-impact and curtain air bags and anti-whiplash head restraints.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    If you liked the previous/2008 WRX you will be very happy with the '09 GT. The turbo'd engine comes hot almost immediately when you punch the gas, with minimal turbo lag but a healthy jolt of boost as the tach needle swings toward redline.

    Like other AWD-equipped performance cars, the abundant power is delivered with control and precision no FWD performance car (MazdaSpeed3) or RWD performance car (Mustang GT) can match. You don't have to worry about breaking the tail loose and fishtailing all over the road (RWD performance cars); and there's no herky-jerky left-right stutter step (FWD cars) as the drive wheels fight to keep pointed in a straight line.

    Just floor it and let the GT's AWD system deliver the power to the pavement.

    I like it that you can drive the GT faster more often with greater confidence (and less paranoia) than you can the WRX - which broadcasts its presence to every cop within a 2-mile radius. And if you do get pulled, the GT's family-man vibe should weigh in your favor, too.

    I'm less enthusiastic about Subaru's decision to make the GT an automatic-only deal. I suppose it was done to edge the enthusiast-types into the WRX, but it's a shame that over-30 enthusiast drivers are forced to choose between living with the automatic GT or risking their "preferred customer" insurance rating by going with the WRX in order to get a manual gearbox.

    It would be a big improvement if Subaru replaced the four-speed automatic with a more up-to-date five-speed automatic.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The '09 GT is just that - a nice "GT" package that combines more-than-ample straight line performance and excellent handling with equally ample refinement and amenities.

    It's a great choice for the slightly older - and hopefully, wiser - leadfoot.
    Last edited by Eric; 12-03-2008 at 11:15 AM.

  2. #2
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    An alternative is to get a slightly used Legacy GT which can absolutely smoke down the highway in cruise controlled stealth. There are a few for sale with the 2.5L 5 speed manual.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    An alternative is to get a slightly used Legacy GT which can absolutely smoke down the highway in cruise controlled stealth. There are a few for sale with the 2.5L 5 speed manual.

    Definitely!

    My preference is always for used anyhow; let someone else eat the depreciation....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Definitely!

    My preference is always for used anyhow; let someone else eat the depreciation....
    Although styling is largely subjective, I think that few people would disagree that the Legacy is a better looking car as well.

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