After nearly 20 years, the rally-bred Subaru WRX starts its fifth generation. As expected, many elements of its new looks are derived from the Viviz Performance Concept which was displayed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. It’s a familiar form that evolved from the Impreza, with differentiating features like the prominent bonnet scoop and wider bodywork.
Viviz Performance Concept shown at 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. At the front, Subaru’s signature hexagonal grille is flanked by more compact LED, while prominent character lines across the front, sides, rear of the car express the dynamic character. The front fenders are now made of aluminium which reduces the overall vehicle weight by about 2.3 kgs. The bootlid has an integrated low-profile rear spoiler in matching body colour, with the taillights designed to glow like volcanic magma.
Apart from enhancing the looks, several functional aerodynamic improvements also enhance the new WRX’s performance and stability. An air outlet at the trailing edge of the front wheel opening allows air to exit from the wheel well more freely, contributing to reduced lift on the front tyres and improved driving stability. Another air outlet added at each side of rear bumper reduces body sway due to air trapped behind the bumper.
Molded wheel arches and lower trim feature an aerodynamic texture that reduces air resistance. Beneath the front end, the engine undercover also features this same aerodynamic texture, and augments it with a geometry that channels airflow to increase downforce at the front of the vehicle.
For the all-new model, the WRX gets a new 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer engine with an output of 271 bhp/350 Nm, with tuning to broaden the torque curve starting from 2,000 and continuing up to 5,200 rpm. The increased displacement, along with a turbocharger equipped with electronically controlled wastegate and air bypass valves, is said to provide improved responsiveness and acceleration.
It goes without saying that there is Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and customers can choose either a 6-speed manual transmission the new Subaru Performance Transmission which is an 8-speed CVT. While the manual transmission has quicker shifting, the CVT incorporates adaptive shift control that can quickly respond to perform rev-matching downshifts under braking, maintain the ideal ratio through corners, and respond faster on corner exit.
Besides, Active Torque Vectoring, the new WRX GT offers new electronically-controlled dampers, a first-ever for the model. These can tailor the dynamic performance to the driver’s preferences with Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings. The Drive Mode Select also offers additional options to configure steering feel, damper settings, SI-Drive settings, and more, with up to 430 different customization options.
Engine and automatic transmission operation can be tailored to driver preferences with three different settings for the SI-Drive Performance Management System. For additional driver involvement, an 8-speed manual mode can be accessed using steering wheel paddle shifters. An available external transmission fluid cooler improves durability and capability under demanding conditions.
The Subaru Global Platform on which the new WRX sits is a substantial upgrade in ride and handling performance. It has increased chassis stiffness and a lower centre of gravity. The platform has full inner frame construction and increased use of structural adhesives, delivering 28% increase in overall torsional rigidity and a 75% increase in suspension mounting point rigidity. A longer suspension stroke increases stability and lateral grip on uneven surfaces. The rear stabilizer bar, now mounted directly to the body (vs. the subframe), operates more efficiently and contributes to a roll rate reduction when cornering.
The track-tuned suspension has optimized geometry and reduced mass offset of the front suspension. A new dual-pinion electric power steering system separates the driver’s input shaft from the motor assist shaft. Together, these enhancements are said to deliver a quicker response to driver inputs, improved accuracy, and a more natural steering feel.
The interior of the WRX has typically been a functional driver-oriented space, given the performance orientation of the model. However, buyers also expect a more premium feel these days and for the new generation, the interior designers have revamped the approach to meet that expectation.
The interior uses a black theme with contrast red stitching and carbonfibre pattern accents. The driver gets a flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated switches for audio, voice recognition, and Subaru’s EyeSight control (driver assistance technologies).
A new and prominent feature is the tablet-style high-definition Subaru STARLINK 11.6-inch centre information display. This allows the driver to manage entertainment and vehicle settings, and also interface with a smartphone using Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Bluetooth.
The navigation system, which uses TomTom in America, has a split-screen display, a first for Subaru. The display can simultaneously show two types of information, such as navigation and audio, for improved user interaction. The 11.6-inch multimedia systems retain physical buttons and knobs for frequently used functions like volume and temperature, which is a more sensible approach than touchscreens.
Subaru has not indicated the pricing for the new WRX, but first deliveries won’t be starting till early next year anyway.
50 years ago, Subaru was already selling cars with 4WD
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