Don’t go looking for major changes on Subaru’s MY18 WRX; unless you’re an eagle-eyed trainspotter, you’re likely to come up blank.
This is partly because the few engineering changes are hidden away underneath the skin, but also because at a casual glance little appears to have changed. Externally, there’s a sharper nose with a new grille, steering-responsive LED headlights and redesigned 18-inch alloys, while extra kit includes heated door mirrors, a larger 5.9-inch infotainment touchscreen and, in our Premium level test car, heated front seats, the driver’s being eight-way power adjustable.
In terms of mechanicals the 2.0-litre turbo boxer four remains at 197kW/350Nm, but there are new high performance brake pads and ‘revised’ suspension, according to Subaru.
The extra gear has pushed the price of the WRX Premium up a reasonable $750 to $45,640, while the CVT option adds another $3000 but includes Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology. Driving the latest WRX is a mix of fun and frustration.
It remains a quick car, with an appealingly raw, old-school feel to the way it handles – this is a good thing – and the ride is firm but acceptable for daily use. Unfortunately, there are also a number of shortcomings.
The engine has all manner of peaks and troughs in its power curve, with an initial hesitation followed by a burst of mid-range torque before dramatically fading around 5000rpm.
It’s also a maddeningly difficult car to drive smoothly; clutch take-up is sudden, the shift is notchy and smooth changes are virtually a lottery. It’s easy to stall, too. The MY18 WRX may be good value, but it needs refining.
SPECS: 2.0-litre boxer-four, turbo, 197kw, 350nm, 1474kg, 0-100km/h 6.0sec