From rally to the road

Published June 20, 2019, 4:02 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

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“Not a comfortable ride but oooooh, it is one heck of a drive.” Those were my first-minute thoughts as I picked up the 2018 Subaru WRX 2.0 CVT from the dealership in Manila Bay.

With so much feedback from the throttle, tires, steering and suspension, it was chatting me up in car-speak and for a minute there I almost replied, “Hi I’m Eric! Let’s hit the track today!”

For a change, it was fantastic to drive a car that wasn’t anesthetized. I felt the pounding and work it has to do with each and every maneuver I made behind the wheel.

On the outside, it really doesn’t look like an aggro sedan, save for hood scoop and fender vents and quad exhausts. Think Carol Danvers, but really Captain Marvel underneath. The Ice Silver Metallic color also helps to make it look ordinary but trust me, it is anything but.

At Php 2.008 million, it already comes with very modern and hi-tech amenities. With the keyfob in your pocket, grab the door handle without even pulling and all doors unlock right away. You can also open just the trunk by pressing the latch just above the rear license plate.

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First thing I noticed were the seats. They’re set much closer to the ground than standard sedans, which ain’t good for a geriatric’s knees. The overall low-profile helps, but the seats are set this way to lower the center of gravity for increased handling and higher rollover resistance.

Second was the all-black theme and wow, it looks good with a mix of soft-touch materials, leather, small amount of chrome trim, a carbon-fiber strip, flat-bottom steering wheel, and some red stitching.

Seats were firm but weren’t as snug as I would have wanted them to be especially in a high-performance vehicle. The leather was of very high quality, like something out of the Legacy, and elegantly put together.

The RPM and speed meters incorporate the temp and fuel gauges respectively so there’s a bit of an adjustment from the conventional way of looking at it because 0 on both meters are at the 9 o’clock position. Separating the two meters is a display for the SI-Drive (Subaru Intelligent Drive) modes and the trip meter below it.

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There’s the shiny seven-inch touchscreen display on the center stack for audio, telephony, connectivity, and sounds settings, plus a high-grade multi-function display that shows the boost pressure meter, the trip computer, a clock, and a menu system for other vehicle settings. That’s a lot to take in daily for an average driver.

Thankfully, this isn’t just average car. Under the hood is a horizontally opposed 2.0L turbocharged gasoline engine pumping a healthy 268 PS and 350 Nm of torque straight to Subaru’s asymmetrical all-wheel drive system using a continuously variable transmission.

With the hydraulic power steering acting as the maestro, the result is like a perfect symphony coming together. Steering is pin-point accurate down to the 1.552-ton weight of the car. It didn’t feel heavy, but it did feel real. Quite unlike the feathery feel you get from an electronic setup.

In the WRX, you feel how it is to really make the turn — the tires grinding on the pavement, the chassis twisting the body around, and the suspension taking in the beating from the road surface.

I know it sounds rather raw, but that’s what a rally-based car ought to do: give the driver feedback so you know what’s happening to it in every part of the drive.

Acceleration even on the default Intelligent (I) mode is very brisk and highly exciting. It doesn’t shoot off like a ball from a cannon but it’s enough to make a normal passenger go “weeee” like on a rollercoaster. Subaru says this is its most fuel efficient mode, but it only returned 6.6 kilometers per liter on EDSA rush hour.

Sport (S) makes it even more responsive while Sport Sharp (#) is the highest performance setting which allows the driver to maximize all that the WRX has to offer. Seeing as the I mode is already a gas guzzler, I seldom switched to S or # but on the occasions that I do, the difference was stark. The rev meter is the first indicator. Higher modes increase the RPM immediately, after which the engine becomes more audible. While you’ll need a teeny-weeny amount of extra pressure to get the boost on I mode, just a little goes a loooong, looooong way in S and more so on #.

The grip of the 245s is amazing, which makes taking sharp corners fast very easy. You wouldn’t want to go too fast on like EDSA though because the stiff suspension, which it needs for grip and to prevent body roll, makes the drive rather bumpy.

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WRX stands for World Rally eXperimental, which takes Subaru’s rallying expertise straight to your road car. If you want more than just a regular sedan, like a track car on weekends and daily drive on weekdays, you must take a look at the 2018 Subaru WRX 2.0 CVT.

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

 
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