Woman at the Wheel - Subaru Impreza
Valencia Muhammad | 1/23/2009, 3:53 p.m.
The 2008 Subaru Impreza is revving up performance and handling in its iconic All-Wheel Drive Impreza WRX model for 2009. Performance is boosted to a new 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 STI-type grille and standard Aero Package. The 2009 Impreza WRX is available with a 5-speed manual transmission only.
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. A larger turbocharger increases boost to 13.3 psi from 11.4 psi in the 2008 model, and a new larger-diameter exhaust uses a low-density catalyst for reduced backpressure.
As a result, the 2009 WRX engine 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. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway, compared to 19/24 for the 2008 WRX model.
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 with 205/50R17 all-season tires used on the 2008 WRX. Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), a stability and traction control system, is standard on all Impreza models for 2009.
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 43-percent stiffer, and the rear spring rate is 42-percent stiffer. 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 was also re-tuned. Because the wider tires used on the 2009, a new damper valve was also added to the steering gearbox to ensure a smooth and high quality steering feeling.
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.
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 Impreza 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 with indicator needles that sweep the gauge faces upon engine startup. The optional 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.
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 (which 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.
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 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.