The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX is a bold statement from the Japanese sport compact maker: We admit our mistakes with the WRX, and we at Subaru are listening to you.
When Subaru unleashed a completely redesigned Impreza and Impreza WRX line for 2008, the reaction from their cult-like following, the Subaru tuner community and the general public was mixed at best. The new Subaru WRX, with its softened suspension, better road manners and smoother power delivery was an attempt to bring in fresh faces to the sport compact scene, those who thought the loud, snarly, outgoing 2007 Impreza WRX was for high school kids only.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. The die-hard Subaru WRX community gave it a big thumbs down. They did not want a budget BMW, or a glorified Toyota Corolla. They wanted the evolution of the legendary Impreza line they knew and loved. They saw the old Subaru WRX as much more than the sum of its parts, a ready-and-willing canvass for the thousands of aftermarket parts Subaru AWD sport compacts tend to attract. What they got was a larger, bulkier Impreza chassis that was called all kinds of bad names by the automotive press. The word "Corolla" comes to mind.
The Subaru Impreza sport compact sedan in all its variations, ever in competition with AWD offerings from Mitsubishi and losing market share to the likes of the Mazdaspeed 3 and Volkswagen GTI, needed a shot in the arm. Reaching into the Subaru parts bin, the Japanese company that has become synonomous with all-wheel-drive has given the 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX a larger turbocharger and an entirely redesigned Subaru exhaust system, resulting in a huge boost in horsepower for a total of 265.
The other area of attention is in the handling department. Last year's Subaru WRX couldn't even manage the same skidpad and laptime numbers as its predecessor, so for 2009 the Impreza WRX has received some much-needed handling tweaks. The Subaru parts department has made big increases in the rigidity of the suspension, with spring rates tightning up by large factors. Larger stabilizer bars should give the 2009 WRX better composure on the road and on the track.
An all-new standard Subaru WRX bodykit rounds out the package, and while it still looks a little bloated, the new 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX should do more to please fans of the most respected name in AWD sport compacts.
The official Subaru press release, reprinted in its entirety below, makes countless references to each and every way in which the 2009 Impreza WRX is better than the outgoing model. At least they've learned from their mistakes...
SUBARU BOOSTS 2009 IMPREZA WRX TO 265 HORSEPOWER
[Official Subaru News Release]
Cherry Hill, NJ--
- "Kyo-Ka" Goal Delivers Quicker, Sharper-Handling WRX
- Re-tuned Suspension and 17-inch Summer Performance Tires
- New Impreza 2.5GT Model Powered by 224-hp Turbo Intercooled Engine
Subaru is revving up performance and handling in its iconic All-Wheel Drive Impreza WRX sport compact for 2009, following the debut of the all-new model in 2008. Performance leaps to a higher level in the 2009 WRX thanks to a 265 horsepower turbocharged intercooled Boxer engine, retuned suspension and wider, lower-profile summer performance tires. WRX enthusiasts will quickly identify the 2009 models by the ST-type grille and standard Aero Package. The 2009 Impreza WRX comes with a 5-speed manual transmission.
New Impreza GT Model
Subaru is also introducing a new Impreza 2.5GT model for 2009, powered by a 224-horsepower turbocharged intercooled engine teamed to a standard 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with SPORTSHIFT.
Both the more powerful WRX and the new 2.5GT are available as 4-Door and 5-Door models. As on all Subaru models, the Impreza WRX and 2.5GT models are equipped with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (two different versions - see page 2 for details.)
The goal of the 2009 WRX team was termed "Kyo-Ka" (translated from Japanese as "strengthening"). To achieve this goal Subaru engineers thoroughly revamped the performance character of the WRX for 2009. Gaining a larger turbocharger, along with a new larger-diameter exhaust and low-density catalyst for reduced backpressure, the WRX engine now produces 265 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 244 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,000 rpm - significant increases from the 224 horsepower and 226 lb.-ft. in the 2008 version.
The Impreza WRX debuted an all-new platform for the 2008 model year, featuring a longer 103.1-inch wheelbase and an all-new double-wishbone rear suspension system. Revised suspension tuning for 2009 further bolsters WRX's street performance credentials. The standard 17 x 7-inch aluminum alloy wheels now wear 225/45R17 summer performance tires, compared to 205/50R17 all-season tires used on the 2008 WRX. The Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system, which is standard on all Impreza models for 2009, helps to enhance the WRX model's road handling safety.
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which forms the common core technology on all Subaru models, gives the Impreza WRX a significant handling performance advantage over front-wheel drive competitors. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a complete system comprised of the Boxer engine and the full-time power distribution system (varies by model and transmission). The aluminum Boxer engine and simple, symmetrical drivetrain layout help to lower the car's center of gravity, which in turn contributes to its handling characteristics.
The 2009 Impreza WRX employs a viscous coupling locking center differential that distributes torque 50:50 front/rear. Should slippage occur, this system transfers more power to the wheels with the best traction. The 2009 Impreza 2.5GT, like other Subaru models equipped with automatic transmission, uses a different version of the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. An electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch actively manages power distribution based on acceleration, deceleration, and available traction. This active torque-split system automatically transfers more power to the wheels with the best grip should slippage occur.
Suspension Re-Tuned For Sharper Handling
Subaru significantly re-tuned the suspension on the 2009 WRX, resulting in sharper turn-in and more responsive handling overall. Front upper strut mounts are adopted from the STI. The front spring rate is increased from 26.5 N/mm to 38 N/mm, and the rear spring rate is increased from 24 N/mm to 34 N/mm. Diameter of the stabilizer bars is also increased, from 20 mm to 21 mm in front and from 15 mm to 16 mm in the rear. Suspension damping has also been re-tuned. Notably, the new, stiffer suspension tuning did not require any further reinforcement of the inherently strong Impreza body structure.
Because the wider tires used on the 2009 WRX give more kickback than those on the 2008 model, a new damper valve was added to the steering gearbox to ensure a smooth and high quality steering feeling.
The Impreza WRX chassis is designed for improved rigidity and ride comfort and employs high-tension steel at key structural points. In addition to providing a basis for more responsive handling, the double-wishbone rear suspension that debuted in the new-generation Impreza models enables a smooth ride quality as well as decreased road noise for a quieter cabin.
The new-generation design results in a lower overall weight for the body while the longer wheelbase allows for improved ride dynamics, more interior room and reduced levels of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). In addition, the new chassis improves crash-worthiness and provides a stiffer platform for crisper handling.
Placing the engine slightly lower in the chassis than in the previous-generation Impreza models helped lower the center of gravity in the new Impreza platform, enhancing steering response. With the Subaru Dynamic Chassis Control Concept (DC3), Subaru optimized all elements of the Impreza's chassis to deliver a better balance of handling response, ride quality, quietness and overall traction performance than offered by competitive vehicles. (See "Performance" section of this press kit for further details.)
New WRX Aero Body Styling
On both 2009 WRX Sedan and 5-Door models, a new STI-type grille carries the WRX badge. Both models get a sharpened new look from the standard Aero Package, which was formerly part of the optional WRX Premium Package. Both body styles also feature front and rear under-bumper spoilers and aerodynamic side ground effects. The sedan has a low-profile rear trunk spoiler, while the 5-Door adopts the WRX STI rear spoiler and a rear diffuser. The rear garnish panel between the light clusters is body color on the 5-Door and chrome on the sedan.
Other distinctions between the two models continue as before, including clear rear tail lamp lenses for the 5-Door and red lenses on the sedan. The 4-Door features dual tailpipe outlets, while the 5-Door uses a single, larger outlet (stainless steel on Premium Package.)
The WRX interior introduced new comfort and spaciousness for 2008, and for 2009 it gains new WRX-exclusive carbon black checkered upholstery accented by red stitching. The standard tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel is accented by red stitching and standard aluminum-alloy pedal covers now include the driver's footrest.
Performance-design front seats integrate the backrest and head restraint into a single structure. The sporty instrument panel features electroluminescent gauges, similar to the WRX STI. As in the WRX STI, the indicator needles sweep the gauge faces upon engine startup for a sporty effect. The WRX Premium Package gains a power moonroof; other contents carry over, including the 10-speaker audio upgrade with auxiliary input jack, projector-beam fog lights, dual-mode heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The compact layout of the double-wishbone configuration helps to minimize intrusion into the cargo area, providing a wider and deeper luggage compartment. On the 5-Door WRX, the wide and flat load floor can accommodate two Tour-size golf bags with the rear seat backs in the upright position. In the WRX sedan, which is 4.5-inches longer than the previous-generation Impreza sedan and 6.5-inches longer than the new 5-Door models, the extra space provides for a larger, deeper trunk that can accommodate three Tour-size golf bags. In all WRX models, a 60/40-split folding rear seat further boosts cargo capacity and convenience.
Advanced Yet Easy-To-Use Technology
The available navigation and information center in Impreza WRX is the focal point of the center console. The navigation screen is located at the top of the dashboard for improved visibility and ease of use. With the navigation system, the center console provides an input for MP3 players as well as RCA-type video jacks that can accommodate portable gaming devices. These can be displayed on the navigation screen when the vehicle is parked.
Impreza models come pre-wired for XM® or SIRIUS® Satellite Radio. Both the standard and optional Impreza audio systems feature the Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) that can display a variety of information, including a song's title and artist. The standard WRX audio system features an AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD player and four speakers.
The WRX Premium Package adds an AM/FM stereo with 6-disc in-dash CD changer featuring MP3/WMA file capability. Occupants enjoy powerful sound from 10 upgraded speakers (six in the front doors, four in the rear doors) and SRS® Circle Surround Sound. Also with this package, the steering wheel adds audio system switches. An auxiliary audio input jack enables connection of an iPod or MP3 player.
The optional Satellite Radio and Navigation package for the WRX integrates the Audyssey MultEQ audio enhancement. Used in high-end home theater systems, Audyssey MultEQ creates the optimal sound experience for passengers in each seat position by tuning equalization that corrects for time and frequency response. The navigation system itself presents major functions through an intuitive, easy-to-use touch screen interface. This option also includes Bluetooth® hands-free wireless capability (requires accessory kit.)
The new-generation Impreza models are built upon the proven Subaru Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame body structure with front and rear crumple zones. All Impreza models for 2009 feature a 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. (The WRX and 2.5GT models have larger front brakes than other Impreza models.) All seats provide 3-point seatbelts (height-adjustable for outboard positions), and the front seatbelts have electrically triggered pre-tensioners and force limiters.
Side-curtain airbags are standard on all 2009 Impreza models. The Subaru Advanced Frontal Airbag System (SRS) features front seat side impact airbags and a driver's side front airbag that deploys according to the driver's proximity to the steering wheel, as measured by a sensor on the seat track. In the passenger side front seat, a sensor module detects weight - first determining if it is occupied, and if so by a child or adult - to control airbag deployment. As part of the system, the dashboard features an "Airbag" indicator light.
About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of nearly 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru makes the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America based on R.L. Polk & Co. new vehicle retail registration statistics calendar year-end 2007. For additional information visit www.subaru.com.
Subaru, Impreza, WRX and STI are registered trademarks of Subaru of America, inc.