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Subaru to tweak new WRX

Power play: Larger turbo will liberate 195kW and 343Nm from the WRX, which was shown in sedan guise at last week's Sydney motor show.

Subaru returns to the WRX drawing board with more power and sharper handling

13 Oct 2008

SUBARU Australia has admitted that the current Impreza WRX high-performance car is too ‘soft’ and will introduce a new sportier chassis tune to appease its traditional buyers.

The stiffer suspension tune is being introduced with a raft of other changes, including a substantial performance upgrade.

All WRX hatches will take the upgrades from early December, as will the new sedan that was launched at last week’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

The performance upgrades include an extra 26kW of power and another 23Nm of torque for a total of 195kW and 343Nm. The gains have been made by using a larger turbocharger and increasing boost pressure.

While the power increase will no doubt please WRX fans, it is the handling improvements that are likely to bring traditional buyers back into showrooms.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior admitted the WRX introduced last year had a softer suspension tune than many of its enthusiast customers wanted.

“The changes to WRX were to broaden its international appeal and its customer base,” he told GoAuto. “We have seen new buyers come to WRX (but) it possibly hasn’t struck the same accord with the WRX customer base that we built since 1994, remembering that we sold 25,000 of them.

2 center imageLeft: Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior.

“We started to work with the factory, (saying) that we wanted a bit more sporty appeal with the drive and the handling and they were quick to react. You guys have seen it many times the beauty of our company is that this market is important for them and they get in and get their hands dirty and make changes if we need to.

“We have reacted, we have done a lot of work here and once you drive the car everyone will be impressed by what we have done with the suspension as well as the engine performance as well.” The new WRX suspension tune is specific to Australia, with a lot of local input going into the development that saw increased spring and damping rates as well as thicker stabiliser bars introduced.

Mr Senior said the arrival of the sedan version of the WRX would significantly boost sales as the booted version had proven more popular than the hatch in previous generations.

“The sedan was about 90 per cent of WRX sales, so not having a sedan at launch (last year) has obviously had a bit of an impact as well,” he said.

The price for the WRX sedan will be the same as the hatch, which remains at $39,990 despite the upgrades.

While the suspension and performance upgrades mean the new WRX is positioned closer to the STI, Mr Senior said there was enough difference between the two cars to avoid sales cannibalisation.

“It’s still as fair way away and there is a whole range of additional spec and feature on STI, so we have no concerns there,” he said.

Mr Senior also confirmed Subaru Australia is currently evaluating the new seven-seat Exiga compact people-mover. It is conducting market research to see how well it would sell here.

Already on sale in Japan, the Exiga is a sporty crossover with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive.

“We are having a look at it, doing some runs in it,” Mr Senior said. “We probably don’t need to sign that off until later this year.”

Read more:

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