This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the stories.
Pics by Subaru@motorpics
Published in Weekend Witness Motoring on Saturday November 28, 2009
We all do things we’d prefer to forget and Subaru’s WRX hatch of 2008 upset the faithful no end, while failing to attract the hordes of new buyers the product planners were hoping for. There was just one thing to do – go back to the old formula and apologise profusely to the fans by making it even better than it was in 2007.
The 2 457 cc DOHC flat four has been given a bigger turbocharger and the wick has been turned up, so that it now puts out 195 kW at 6 000 rpm and 343 Nm at 4 000. Anti sway bars front and rear have been beefed up, front struts given STI top mounts and a damper fitted to the steering to make it friendlier on dirt. Tauter, more responsive handling than on the outgoing model harks back to the “good old days.”
The KZN test unit (and probably all press cars) was given the optional sports exhaust package. People of a certain age usually whine about noise of any kind, but this kit makes the car sound so mean, so menacing, so just plain evil, that you can’t help but love it. Puttering along at low revs sounds like a gangster patrolling his turf, while higher revolutions result in a banzai rasp designed to send invading round-eyes scuttling for cover.
As far as looks go it is, well, different. By no means a beauty contest winner, it is a case of form following function, and function it certainly does. You sit low in the Impreza, the fully adjustable steering wheel simply cannot be set too high, the seats wrap themselves around your eagerly awaiting body (can I say that, Ms Editor?) and the rumbling beast impatiently waits for you to unleash it toward the horizon.
Being in this car causes flashbacks to more expensive and exotic machinery like Nissan Zs and Aston Martins. It just feels so right. Unlike them, however, the Subaru is a full four-seater with a decently sized boot and a much smaller price tag. It also has full-time all wheel drive and uses a bit less fuel.
On the road, this WRX sits securely, steers well, accelerates like a rocket (0 to 100 in 5,7 seconds) and just makes you feel so competent. The picky would point out that the STI version is marginally quicker and handles even better, but the STI costs R165 000 more and it’s a (choke) hatchback, so you decide.
It’s not all about sound effects and performance, though. The WRX comes with all the usual stuff like filtered climate control, a six-CD player with 10 speakers, MP3 and WMA compatibility (I like the easy to use menu and the way the display shows the cover of the album being played, even in USB mode), audio controls on the steering wheel, folding exterior mirrors, 6 airbags and xenon headlights. It even has a sunroof thrown in free.
Oh, yes, it is ANCAP 5 safety rated, has child seat anchorage in the back, has all the usual electronic braking and handling kit and boasts the inherent safety of symmetrical all wheel drive as well.
If I made a list of the top five test cars I’d like to keep, from this year’s crop to date, the Impreza WRX would be in it. Hell, it might even make the top three.
Price: R359 000
Engine: 2 457 cc DOHC boxer four, turbocharged
Power: 195 kW at 6 000 rpm
Torque: 343 Nm at 4 000 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 5,7 seconds
Maximum speed: 209 km/h
Real life fuel consumption over 200 km of mixed driving: 11,2 l/100 km
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km
Maintenance plan: 3 years/63 000 km
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously. Contact me here
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