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First Impressions: 2023 Subaru WRX and WRX Wagon 

Ben Chia
20/01/2023

Subaru’s legendary performance sedan returns, but what does the new WRX have to offer for a new generation?


Photos: Subaru and Ben Chia

SINGAPORE

Once upon a time, the Subaru WRX was effectively synonymous with affordable performance. For not a lot of money, you got a car that was fast out of the box, and offered plenty of potential for modifications to make it go even faster. At one point these things were everywhere, with boy racers and enthusiasts alike snapping them up by the bucketload.

In recent times though, the WRX’s light has somewhat dimmed, in part because the affordable performance market has seemingly evaporated in light of greater developments in an automotive industry that’s been pushing towards electrification. The previous generation WRX (or Rex as it is affectionately known) didn’t help matters too by introducing a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), much to the consternation of enthusiasts who couldn’t quite reconcile that choice of gearbox in a performance-oriented car.

Subaru is sticking to its guns though, and the latest WRX also features a CVT. Before one dismisses it outright however, it pays to view the car on its objective merits. CarBuyer got a brief first drive of the new WRX in Singapore, at Subaru’s Advanced Technology Drive event, just before the 2023 Singapore Motorshow.

Available to try out was the WRX sedan, as well as the WRX Wagon, which is returning for the first time in over a decade, and we managed to do about three laps in each round the temporary circuit set up at the Changi Exhibition Centre where the event was held. It’s not a whole lot of driving to make a full judgment, but definitely enough to get some brief first impressions.

Off the line, the WRX proves to be pretty adept at getting you up to speed quickly. The newly-developed 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer engine produces 275hp and 350Nm of torque, which are numbers not to be sniffed at. 0-100km/h comes in 6.1 seconds but it feels a tad quicker than its timing suggests. At around 5,000rpm or so, the turbo kicks in and hits you with a bit of a boost that feels slightly reminiscent of the Honda VTECs of old. Oddly though, this feels more pronounced in the sedan rather than the wagon, which seemed to deliver its power in a somewhat smoother fashion.

And then we get to the CVT, which was a bugbear of the outgoing model, at least among enthusiasts. In the new WRX though, Subaru has somehow managed to hone and refine the transmission such that it bears nearly none of the characteristics that one would associate with a CVT. It operates smoothly, and seems to match with the drivetrain extremely well, at least from our experience in the short drive around the circuit. We would need to take the WRX on longer test drive to give our full verdicts, but for now, colour us impressed.

In the corners, the WRX feels sharp and poised. There is a tinge of understeer if you carry too much speed on entry, but this is easily corrected with the throttle, and for the most part the car steers right through the bends with near-pinpoint precision if you manage it well enough.

The WRX Wagon we drove around the Changi circuit was fitted with Subaru’s tS package, which includes some STI-branded niceties like a sporty steering wheel, instrument cluster, sports rims and tailpipes. However, the tS (which stands for ‘Tuned by STI’) also adds selectable drive modes and electronically adjustable dampers. The effect on the car’s drivability is slight but noticeable, with the wagon feeling more composed and offering a slightly more well-sorted ride quality over the sedan.

The tS package, which is available for both the sedan and wagon, will cost an additional 10 grand over the regular WRX models, which currently has a tentative pricing of S$246,800 for the sedan, and S$256,800 for the wagon, both inclusive of COE. First Singaporean deliveries are expected to commence somewhere in June 2023, and while the WRX may not be the same affordable and easily modifiable performance bargain of old, it remains fully capable of standing on its own as a bona fide sports model that is still fun to drive.

2023 Subaru WRX and WRX Wagon

Drivetrain typePetrol engine
Engine2,347cc, flat-four boxer, turbocharged
Power275hp at 5600rpm
Torque350Nm at 2000-5200rpm
GearboxCVT
0-100km/h6.1 seconds
Top Speed215km/h
VES BandingC2 / +$25,000
Fuel Efficiency9.5L/100km
AgentMotor Image
PriceSedan: S$246,800 with COE
Wagon: S$256,800 with COE
AvailabilityQ2 2023
Verdict:All-new WRX delivers an impressively sporty drive, even if it is not quite the performance bargain of old

Tags:

sedan Subaru wagon wrx

About the Author

Ben Chia

CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben

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One thought on “First Impressions: 2023 Subaru WRX and WRX Wagon ”

  1. Daniell Koh says:

    Nice and Great. Really looking forward to this car but it is too powerful for an old man like me.
    Can we get the 1.6L or 2.0L NA Manual version available in SG?
    Getting hard to find a Manual car these days.
    Is there really no more “Manual” market in SG?
    Or can any AD cater to the small but unique “Manual” market here?

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