The WRX is a high performance AWD version of Subaru’s Impreza, and since its release its been regarded as one of the hottest things on four wheels.
Highly effective as a competition rally car it also has a huge following as an affordable high-performance road car.
Models & features
The WRX range is made up of normal production models as well as special edition and limited production models that sold in very small numbers. Between 2000 to 2002, there were nine different versions of the same basic vehicle. Only the volume selling standard WRX is dealt with here.
The WRX came as either a four-door sedan or hatch, with a 160 kW turbo-charged flat 4 engine, a 5 speed manual transmission and all-wheel-drive. Standard equipment for the 2000 year model (August ’99 to October ’00) included air conditioning, ABS, front airbags, body kit, alloy wheels and sports seats. The 2001 model (October ’00 to October ’01) was built on an entirely new platform with increased rigidity and improved side impact protection. It also got revised suspension and front end styling, seat belt pretensioners, 17” alloy wheels and a larger turbo and intercooler. Changes for the 2002 model were minor. The MY 02 model ran until November ‘02.
On the road
The WRX is a sports car through and through. Performance is impressive, brakes are terrific, ride is firm and grip and handling are well above average. It’s even fairly practical with a rear seat that’s roomy enough for two adults in reasonable comfort and a boot that’s big enough for the weekly shopping.
The boxer engine’s characteristic exhaust rumble is ever present and even in standard form its interior noise levels are biased towards performance rather than comfort. Its biggest negatives are its terrific thirst for premium fuel when driven hard and its well-earned reputation as a theft target.
You’d be pretty naive to think you’ll find a WRX that’s only been driven to church on Sunday by a little old lady. The fact is WRXs are high performance cars that are bought by people who like to drive, so it goes without saying that many of them will have had a hard life.
When buying look out for ones that have been smashed, bashed and generally abused. Engines are fairly robust however abuse, “chipping” of the engine management system and boost pressure increases can lead to premature engine wear and failure.
Drivelines are certainly breakable if you try hard enough, but when subjected to big power outputs from modified engines they can become very fragile, so it’s a good idea to be alert for abnormal driveline noises and operation.
Clutches are the WRX’s weak point so watch for shudder and slipping. Many vehicles will have been heavily modified so you’ll need to have a good knowledge of what’s standard and what isn’t.
Be aware also that some modifications may not be legal or will affect the vehicle’s insurability.
From 7.6 to 10.5 litres / 100km, depending on model and conditions.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
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