Motoring

Subaru WRX could do without CVT

The Subaru WRX is an icon amongst performance car fans globally, however, in recent years the WRX has changed its market appeal slightly, from compromised rally-bred machine to a civilised performance car.

I recently had the updated WRX on test, in ES Premium guise for review. The Dark Grey Metallic press vehicle arrived and I had one wish, that this would be the manual and not the CVT variant. My hopes were dashed as I spotted the Subaru EyeSight cameras on other side of the interior rear-view mirror as this technology is only available on the CVT model.

In 2015, I had the pre-facelift WRX manual as a longterm test vehicle and was impressed with its handling, interior quality and respectable performance versus WRX models of old. Fast forward to the current WRX, and there’s still the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, which will set you back R588 000 versus the CVT which costs a whopping R638 000, putting it within the price range of the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi’s S3.

For that sum of money, you get what is a relatively rapid sedan with a large 460-litre boot and an impressive list of standard features. Standard spec include the seven-inch Starlink infotainment system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, the EyeSight semi-autonomous driving functionality, climate control, a Harmon Kardon sound system and leather seats to name a few.

Its 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer petrol engine produces 197 kW and 350 N.m of torque which the brand claims will allow the car to get from a standstill to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds. Fuel consumption wasn’t quite as frugal as the 8.6 L/100 km claim, however, I found that a figure of 9.4 L/100 km was more realistic.

In terms of ride and handling, the WRX is exceptionally adept, always feeling planted and secure, while the level of communication between your hands and those front wheels gives you quite a bit of confidence as a driver. I just found the gearbox to be less than inspiring when pushing on.

At low speed and cruising through the daily commute, it’s rather effortless, but when driven in anger, the car simply doesn’t excite you and it’s largely due to that gearbox. That leads me to conclude that the powertrain in this vehicle is more suited to an SUV or a crossover than a pukka performance car wearing the WRX badge.

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