2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
FAST FACTS
  • New more-aggressive bodywork
  • Wider stance and larger wheels and tires
  • Sport front seats with unique upholstery
  • Standard Bluetooth with audio streaming
  • Standard turbocharged 265-hp engine
  • Standard 5-speed manual transmission
  • Arrives in dealerships in the summer of 2010

Introduction

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX The Subaru Impreza platform is famed worldwide for its successful rally racing history. Introduced in 1993, the Impreza is offered as a compact 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback. Now in its third generation, last redesigned for the 2008 model year, the Impreza is sold in many variants-as an economical family sedan; a turbocharged hot hatchback (wearing "WRX" and "STI" nomenclature); and as variations of both in between.

While the Impreza WRX received only minor changes for 2010, things change significantly for 2011, as the 5-door adopts the aggressive look of its race-bred STI sibling. The wider body designs give the 2011 Subaru WRX an aggressive road presence and also allow wider track dimensions, according to the automaker.

Design

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX The line differentiating the WRX and STI has become even less clear for 2011, as Subaru has fitted the all-wheel-drive WRX with the aggressive bodywork previously reserved only for the STI. The bodywork is accompanied by an increase in front and rear track (1.5 inches), improving handling and overall appearance, the company says.

From the outside, the 2011 Impreza WRX 4- and 5-door both benefit from the facelift. The front of each model features sharper bumper corners and blackened fog lamp nacelles to draw attention to their new wider and lower profile. The grille is redesigned and the headlights are shaped in a manner intended to emphasize the sporty nature of the WRX. Aggressive flared fenders accentuate the wider tires, while a new spoiler on the rear completes the package.

The interiors benefit from special carbon-black checkered upholstery with red accent stitching. Aluminum-alloy pedal covers and footrest are standard, as are the unique one-piece-design performance front bucket seats. The standard steering wheel is a leather-wrapped, 3-spoke design with tilt and telescope features. The wheel has integrated controls for Bluetooth hands-free phone functionality. New for 2011 is an AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD player and innovative Bluetooth audio streaming. The iPod-compatible system also includes a USB port, AUX input jack and XM/Sirius satellite radio. Navigation is optional.

Cargo capacity has not gone unnoticed. Subaru says the 5-door Impreza WRX can accommodate two tour-size golf bags with the rear seatbacks in the upright position, while the 4-door, which is 6.5 inches longer than the 5-door, can accommodate three tour-size golf bags. If needed, a 60/40-split folding rear seat increases cargo capacity. The 4-door also features a rear-seat fold-down center armrest.

Model Lineup

Subaru offers the Impreza in no fewer than nine different trim levels, from standard models to the performance-tuned WRX and STI. The standard models are fitted with a 2.5-liter flat-four (4-cylinder) "Boxer" engine rated at 170 horsepower. The WRX models receive a turbocharged variant of that engine, while the STI designation is reserved for the flagship-and highest-performing-models with more power and other performance enhancements.

Hardware

All Subaru Impreza models for 2011 are fitted with a turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four "Boxer" engine rated at 265 horsepower and 244 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission on the WRX is a 5-speed manual. Power is sent to all four wheels through Subaru's "Symmetrical" full-time all-wheel-drive system.

The suspension is independent on all four corners. Up front it is a strut-type with lower L-arms. In the rear it is a double-wishbone-designed to be compact to help minimize intrusion into the cargo area and give the Impreza a wide and deep luggage compartment. The widening of the front and rear track allowed engineers to fit the 2011 WRX with larger wheels and tires. The alloy wheels are now 17x8 (vs. 17x7), and the tires have increased in size to 235/45R17 (up from 225/45R17). To accommodate the larger tire package, Subaru also made the rear subframe bushings firmer.

Safety

Subaru fits each of the Impreza models with its so-called "Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame" body structure with front and rear crumple zones. In addition to this chassis architecture, the automaker fits all models with dual front and side-curtain air bags as standard features. The Impreza models also have standard tire-pressure monitoring (TPM), electronic stability control (Subaru calls it "VDC"), 4-wheel ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and brake assist.

Technology

The 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX is fitted with standard Bluetooth streaming audio, or Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP). While more late-model vehicles are being delivered with Bluetooth phone connectivity-a wireless connection between the vehicle's audio system and the phone allows a completely hands-free interface-Bluetooth streaming audio is just starting to arrive. In the past, a wired connection (via AUX or USB port) allowed vehicle occupants to listen to their portable audio devices and MP3 libraries. The convenience far exceeded the age-old tape deck or more modern CD changer, but the wired connection was still always in the way (and it had to be disconnected each time the device left the vehicle). The new standard of A2DP allows a properly-equipped phone or audio device to automatically-and wirelessly-connect to the vehicle and deliver stereo quality "streaming audio" with utmost convenience.
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