Seek ’em Rex

Be­ware abuse, but a well-loved WRX can be al­most bul­let­proof

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

There has never been any doubt about the per­for­mance of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive WRX. It’s al­ways been fast but there have been times when its looks were seen as short of the mark.

Any com­plaints about the looks were an­swered in 2010 with the re­lease of a mean-look­ing model to si­lence the crit­ics.

One look at the bulging front and rear guards filled with big al­loy wheels was enough to tell you the ‘‘ Rex’’ was back in form af­ter the rather soft-look­ing pre­de­ces­sor. A sedan STi fea­tured a large rear wing that added to its men­ac­ing im­age.

The stan­dard WRX packed a mean punch with 195kW and 343Nm thun­der­ing from its 2.5-litre turbo flat-four en­gine.

The even hot­ter STi de­liv­ered 221kW and a mas­sive 407Nm. Among the dif­fer­ences that boosted the out­put of the STi were vari­able valve tim­ing on both the in­let and ex­haust cams, whereas the baseWRXhad vari­able tim­ing only on the in­let cam.

With the reg­u­larWRXyou got a five-speed man­ual gear­box; the STi of­fered a choice of six-speed man­ual or five-speed sport-shift­ing auto— but the auto en­gine gave you 57Nm less torque.

Ex­cept in the auto, WRXs had an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled cen­tre diff (the auto’s was me­chan­i­cal) and all had a front lim­ited-slip diff.

The wheels were moved out­wards un­der the pumped-up guards to give theWRXa larger foot­print, which aided han­dling.

In STi guise the sus­pen­sion was lower and boasted dif­fer­ent spring and shocks rates, a heav­ier an­tiroll bar and big­ger brakes— adding up to more fun at the wheel. It also got lighter al­loy 18-inch wheels com­pared to the 17-inch wheels on the stan­dard.

Safety was cov­ered by six airbags and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, enough to have it rated five stars by AN­CAP.

NOW

Buy­ing a usedWRXde­mands cau­tion, not be­cause it’s plagued with prob­lems but sim­ply that it’s a high per­for­mance car and usu­ally bought by peo­ple who like to drive it hard and fast.

Look for signs not so much of use, as abuse. Brakes, clutches, sus­pen­sion, wheels and tyres can all take a ham­mer­ing.

Look closely for mod­i­fi­ca­tions made to mount roll cages and so on. Also look for mod­i­fi­ca­tions to en­gines in the pur­suit of even greater out­puts. If you find any and they ap­pear dodgy, walk away and keep shop­ping. Con­sider a mod­i­fied car only if you can check the bona fides of the per­son who did the work.

It’s also crit­i­cal the high­per­for­mance WRX is fas­tid­i­ously main­tained, so thor­oughly check the ser­vice his­tory of any car un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Given a me­chan­i­cally sym­pa­thetic owner and reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing, theWRXis pretty much bul­let­proof— that was the over­all report we got from the trade.

SMITHY SAYS

Even more bang for your buck, theWRXis back in town.

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