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Thread: 2008 Subaru WRX

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2008 Subaru WRX

    Next to a cop hiding in the bushes, sand on the road after a winter storm is about as big a buzz-kill as there is. You're forced to tread lightly - and drive slowly - even when there's no cop around for miles. It pretty much sucks when you're making monthly payments on a performance car that can't do much performing for three or four months out of every year due to the weather.

    Unless you're driving something like the Subaru WRX.

    Its rally-bred all-wheel-drive system flips the bird to sand on the road - and gives you the confidence to dive into hairpin turns at speed, even after it's snowed and the DOT trucks have left treachery in their wake.

    It's all-year fun - no matter how hard you run.

    And it's also a big part of the reason why the WRX is a perennial favorite of enthusiast drivers who value high-performance handling that doesn't lose a step when the weather gets iffy.

    The other big attraction of the WRX - and Soobies in general - is their reputation for ruggedness and the diesel-like longevity of the horizontally opposed boxer engines that power them. While similar models like the Mitsubishi Lancer/EVO are equally fast and furious (and tenacious in less than ideal conditions, if you're looking at the AWD-equipped EVO), thrashing them regularly seems to wear them out faster. I see ancient (1980s-era) Soobies all the time in my rural redoubt of SW Virginia; on the other hand, it's rare to see '90s-era Mitsubishis still in service. They seem to have short shelf-lives.

    If the Lancer/EVO is the Saturday Night Special of import sport compacts - devastating for the first few shots but likely to jam eventually if you keep on using it - the WRX is like a Kalashnikov rifle that keeps on firing no matter how badly you treat it.

    Another point: With Mitsubishi it's pretty much all (Lancer EVO) or nothing (plain old Lancer). Though the EVO and Lancer are (like the Impreza-based WRX) based on the same car, to get an all-wheel-drive system and high-performance drivetrain, you have to buy the $32,990 EVO; the standard Lancer comes only with FWD - and has nothing hotter than a 152 horsepower four to offer. But Subaru doesn't make you buy the top-of-the-line WRX STi to get AWD - and muscle car straight-line performance. Your $24,350 gets you the AWD - and a 224 horsepower turbocharged version of Subaru's growly 2.5 liter horizontally opposed boxer four.

    That's enough to dip into the mid-14s in the quarter mile and reach 60 mph in the high 5-second range. Not as quick as the Lancer EVO to be sure - but it kicks the standard Lancer up and down the street.

    The WRX is thus a nice "middle ground" alternative to the EVO - with very respectable performance and some nine grand less to buy, too.

    It's also available in more than one shape.

    Subaru offers buyers a choice of WRX sedan or WRX hatchback wagon - both otherwise identically equipped. The Lancer (and EVO) meanwhile, come only in sedan form. That makes it a tougher sell to those who need more in the way of cargo room - and everday practicality. Sometimes, a sedan just won't cut it - no matter how enjoyable it may be to drive when you're running balls to the wall. (I have a musician friend, for example. He has to have a wagon to get his gear to gigs. The WRX would work for him. The Lancer/EVO would not.)

    Bottom line, it's hard to say anything other than nice things about the WRX. Always appealing - and more broadly appealing than many (maybe all) others of its type - the '08 version is even more so thanks to an extensive redesign that makes it a bit larger inside (though overall length is actually less), with more front seat legroom and more rear seat head and shoulder room. The cargo area is also wider due to the revised sheetmetal (and a revised/more compact in design rear suspension layout).

    Sharp observers will also notice that the '08 WRX no longer has the Subaru-traditional frameless door glass. Though it looked cleaner, frameless glass didn't seal out noise as effectively - so it's been ditched. But the hill-holder clutch (on manual versions) is still there - and all '08 WRXs come with Subaru's VDC electronic traction/stability control system as well as clear-style tail lenses, 17-inch rims with sport tires and special electroluminescent lighting for the main gauge cluster.

    The biggest single upgrade is the optional navigation system with tilt/fold LCD display monitor. The GPS display struck me as a bit on the "busy" side - and some of the main control buttons on either side of the unit itself are not backlit at night - so it's a bit hard, until you memorize where things are, to switch from satellite radio to map - and so on. On the other hand, the tilt feature lest you angle the LCD display so that it's readable in conditions where it might otherwise not be; it also tidies up the center console by hiding the slots for the CD changer and map DVD.

    The one thing that's absolutely inexplicable given all the improvements to the WRX for 2008 is the continued use of a crickety four-speed automatic as the Soobie's optional transmission. Virtually every car on the market now offers a five-speed (or even a six-speed) automatic - the extra gears and tighter spacing between gears providing not just snappier feel but also the potential for improved fuel economy. A four-speed automatic is so.... yesterday.

    The upshot is you can just skip it. The WRX is better with the manual anyhow. The 5-speed is easy to live with, even in heavy stop and go traffic (light clutch, the Hill Holder function). It's no chore to drive, you'll get better performance and mileage - and you'll pay less, too.

    Still, Subaru needs to get a modern five or six-speed automatic into production, pronto. Even if most WRX buyers don't buy it, it looks bad to be behind the times when it comes to any major aspect of a car's layout. And a four-speed automatic is the technological equivalent of a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor - a relic from the '80s that has no place in 2008.

    That aside, the WRX still rocks. It's a more affordable - and versatile - alternative to the all-or-nothing Lancer EVO. And it's got more personality than the mostly forgettable legions of me-too FWD sport compact sedans and wagons out there - few of which offer both AWD and turbo high-performance for under $25k.












    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: 2008 Subaru WRX

    Certainly the new 2008 WRX offers a lot of bang for the buck. Nice article...

    Here's a link to this article with pictures on the main page:





    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...8&Itemid=10848


    ...

  3. #3
    Gareebee
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    Re: 2008 Subaru WRX

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    That's enough to dip into the mid-14s in the quarter mile and reach 60 mph in the high 5-second range. Not as quick as the Lancer EVO to be sure - but it kicks the standard Lancer up and down the street.
    END
    What? No 300 hp option anymore? That's a shame. It would be an EVO beater then! <G>

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Subaru WRX

    Quote Originally Posted by Gareebee
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    That's enough to dip into the mid-14s in the quarter mile and reach 60 mph in the high 5-second range. Not as quick as the Lancer EVO to be sure - but it kicks the standard Lancer up and down the street.
    END
    What? No 300 hp option anymore? That's a shame. It would be an EVO beater then! <G>
    There will be a WRX STi soon, it's just not available quite yet.

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