Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.5L Flat-Four
Power:
265 HP / 244 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
5.0 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
142 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,208 LBS
Seating:
2+3
MPG:
19 City / 25 HWY
Two months ago, I was carving pumpkins in a canyon – last week, I was carving canyons in a pumpkin. I genuinely prefer the latter.

It's hard to miss the 2013 Subaru WRX Special Edition. The twins (the automaker is offering the package on both the WRX and its higher-performing STI sibling – just 300 copies in total) arrive in Tangerine Orange paint with Jet Black wheels, black exterior mirrors and black front fender badges. The purely cosmetic upgrades are carried inside the cabin with black cloth upholstery contrasted with orange stitching on the seats, doors, shift boot and piping on the floor mats.

After a day, I completely forgot about the controversial orange paint (you either love or hate its burnt pumpkin color) and focused on the simple joy of driving the rally-inspired Subaru WRX.

Driving Notes
  • The turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four is a gem of an engine. It pulls soundly from the low end of the tachometer yet willingly runs to fuel cutoff at redline. Unfortunately, the note coming from the quad exhaust pipes resonates and booms from within the cabin. I liked it, but many of my passengers complained.
  • While the industry has moved to six-speed manual transmissions (as has the STI), few realize just how wonderful a competent five-speed gearbox really is. Despite giving up a bit in acceleration and fuel economy (the 6MT has a lower first gear, and a taller six gear), the 5MT will easily run to 60 miles per hour without a shift to third gear. This also translates to less clutch work around town.
  • During a spirited run up Decker Canyon and Mulholland Highway, Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive kicked serious tail in the corners. It absolutely refused to let go of the pavement, regardless of how much power was going to the wheels.
  • The suspension of the WRX is a bit softer than I expected. While it translated to a much more comfortable highway ride, it came across a too squishy for really hardcore flogging. For upgraded suspension, brakes and a more capable all-wheel drive system, consumers need to look at the STI.
  • The cloth bucket seats are comfortable, supportive during aggressive driving maneuvers and heated. What more can one ask for?
  • The WRX won't let anyone forget its Impreza roots. The cabin appointments are budget-oriented, with no-frills hard plastic on the dashboard and doors, minimal digital instrumentation (no trip computer or fuel distance-to-empty display) and a lackluster audio system (one of the worst I have experienced in years).
  • Keep in mind that Subaru has already replaced its Impreza with an all-new fourth-generation model - the WRX (and STI) are still on the third-generation platform - expect their high-performance replacements to emerge within a year.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 70 Comments
      Nick Allain
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like the WRX but I can't help but think it's time for a new one. I hope this is the last of the special editions so we can all just move on to the next generation STi.
      Jason Golden
      • 2 Years Ago
      We have a 2010 WRX in our garage.. .the FOURTH Subie to earn our ownership. It's a nice, simple, if slightly crude little creature. It's aging well, despite some creaks and groans in the structure. We look forward to the next-gen WRX. If this next gen (2014?) iteration can keep that unique, slightly gruff edge, it will surely hold our attention. But we've also had a taste of the GTI, so our awareness of tasteful cabin materials and "tight build" are moving beyond what Subie currently offers.
      Hajime1990 #follow
      • 2 Years Ago
      Quite surprised to see that it produces only 265 hp from a 2.5 l turbo when the JDM Sti makes 320 hp from a 2.0 l turbo.
        oRenj9
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        Poor quality gas and emissions are the direct cause for the low power output. A new tune really wakes up the engine. Also, the 2.0L in the Japanese STI spins to like 8,300 rpms while the 2.5 redlines at around 6,500.
        AlwaysOn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        Better gas in Japan? Peaky Power?
      oRenj9
      • 2 Years Ago
      I actually kind of like that 80s throwback sticker on the side. It just needs to say "TURBO". I don't get the hate on the interior, the seats rock, the ergonomics are excellent, and the plastics are scratch resistant enough to look brand new after five years. It doesn't look like a BMW on the inside, but it is still well designed and robust. I'm not surprised to hear the stereo is still crap; there isn't much that you can do with four little door speakers.
        torqued
        • 2 Years Ago
        @oRenj9
        I guess it's all objective. I find the seats bad (too wide, no support, feel cheap) , the plastics on mine are scratched up after 3 years. And the stereo is perfectly fine.
      Anubis
      • 1 Year Ago
      Happy Halloween from Subaru.
      NightFlight
      • 2 Years Ago
      "the 5MT will easily run to 60 miles per hour without a shift to second gear." You 100% need a shift to second WELL before you hit 60MPH in the WRX.
      Phill Fisk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Frankly, I don't understand the hating agains the current WRX/STI. Yes, the milage isn't as high as something like a V6 mustang or camaro...but it's also AWD, which immediately adds "overhead" to the MPG drain. And yes, it doesn't make quite as much power as one of those two but it's also 500-700 lbs lighter, making it's power-to-weight much more competitive. Before someone brilliantly points out "because it's lighter it should get better gas mileage!" yes, I get that. And I'm OK with that :) I haven't driven either of these domestics, but I have a hard time believing they'll hold up long-term (mileage and age) as the scooby will. Scoobies last forever...domestics don't. For someone like myself, the WRX was the perfect choice. It's got 4 doors, so I can conveniently carry passengers. It has a hatch (I have the 5-door) and I can put a lot of crap in the back. I live in/around Buffalo, so bad weather is a factor...I can put snow tires on it during the winter and go anywhere that the car won't turn into a snow plow...and I can put my summer tires on and hoon it around. It's reliable, it's got a great warrantee, and I know that it'll last as long as I want it to...and for the overall performance (handling, power, "fun factor", etc) you can't beat the price. I had considered the STI (there was an STI sitting right next to the WRX I bought in the dealer's lot), but I couldn't rationalize the additional 7-8k on the sticker (closer to 10k when I got done dealing) that the performance increase would represent. If I were going to buy a "sports car" like the Camaro or Mustang, I would get the V8. And to the fellow who was mentioned the Corvette...well, try to buy a modern (even entry level) for much less than TWICE the price. Frankly, I think that the WRX is the best practical "fun" car money can buy..
        quackmanquackman
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Phill Fisk
        I agree with most of your points, but just noting that the Mustang V6 is only around 3,450 lbs, so only 250-ish pounds more, not "5-700 lbs." I love the WRX/STI though despite its poorer mpg!
      Kuro Houou
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm just dreading the day they announce the new WRX. 1. Its going to be bigger and heavier, its happened in every generation since it came out here. A sad sad story. 2. Its still going to get horrible gas mileage for a ~250hp car. And not just because its AWD, because Subaru can't design a fuel efficient engine. Just look at the BRZ which can't even break 30mpg and its a 2L 200hp motor. 3. Its going to look HORRIBLE. Subaru's have gotten chunkier and uglier with every generation. The concept designs prove this. Whereas the BRZ was nice and compact with clean lines, every other Subaru is going the opposite direction. I've owned 4 Subaru's in my life, started with a 2002 WRX. Each one impressed me less and less :( I don't think ill be owning another.
        Gorgenapper
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Also the current engine is known to blow its ringlands - something I do not want to subject myself to, which is why I chose not to buy the current STI.
          jboogiezx6
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          55k miles on my 08 sti. no such issues whatsoever.
          Gorgenapper
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          I'm happy for you. Still doesn't change the fact that there is an abnormal amount of STIs with broken ringlands, stock, stage 1 or 2. In fact, if you go dig up a dyno chart of the 2012 STI (base) that Cobb did, you will see the AFRs holding rather lean during WOT around 3500 - 4200 rpm. That's factory bone stock..
        m_2012
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        The BRZ has been getting above EPA esitmates, just check fuellie. In face, C&D long term car just returned 29MPG after 10,000 miles with them - not bad for magazine flogging in cold weather.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        [blocked]
        ayeco
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        I agree. I'm a big fan of my 2002. Every year I've been looking at the newer model and have yet to find a reason to buy a new one. I guess I'm driving this one forever.
      Mazdaspeed6
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe this is asking too much, but it would be nice to see instrumented tests for your "reviews" rather than estimates. AOL gives you guys enough money for the equipment right? Your estimated 0-60 is much slower than other instrumented 0-60s, which have been as low as 4.7.
        Generic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        Launching a AWD turbo car and dealing with the turbo lag is not an easy thing to get right. To get under 5 second time would require revving up the engine and finding a fine line between dumping and slipping the clutch. Its extra wear and tear on a car. An owner with payments who wants to avoid costly repairs is likely not going to do this. I once wore out a stock clutch in like 6 months after the discovery of fun AWD launches. Then I quickly learned out to change them out.
        k.naz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        Assuming they had access to a drag strip with dry weather conditions and warm slicks.
        Generic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        Also, the WRX transmission is not known for being very strong. When they first came out, the were said to have glass gears. I read a lot of complaints about failures with stock non raced cars.
          oRenj9
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Generic
          That was when they first came out. The five speed has since been beefed up to handle the load of the 2.5L engine. The newer five speeds are strong enough that the front axles are as likely to fail due to abuse as is the transmission. I say abuse because the five speed will last years behind an engine making 340ft.lbs, as long as you slip the clutch. Side-step launches make for great 0-60 times, but they will destroy your trans/axels in short order. The six-speed is significantly tougher, but the newer five speeds are far from being soft as glass.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        [blocked]
      moe6
      • 2 Years Ago
      gawd, the sedan is such a hideous thing. That applies to just about every car that started as a hatchback with no real intention of becoming a sedan (I'm looking at you VW Polo sedan, Peugeot 308 sedan, old Honda City based on the first Fit etc)
      William
      • 2 Years Ago
      The WRX is an ugly car.
      mopyouup
      • 2 Years Ago
      Until Subaru puts the DI and a 6th gear these cars are dead in the water. A Camaro SS gets better mileage. Yes I know different class and not all wheel drive, just purely a mileage example. Wake up Subie or you'll never make the new mileage requirements without paying penalties. I yearn for a WRX with slightly more power from a 2.0L and mileage of 25 city / 35 hwy. Would be a game changer!
        turboawdftw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mopyouup
        please go to fuelly.com and see the real world mileage of the camaro SS and let me know what you find...
          mopyouup
          • 2 Years Ago
          @turboawdftw
          Considering the motor is 3-4 times the size mileage is fairly close, pretty lame really for 2.5L
        Xedicon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mopyouup
        You're not going to get 35 hwy with that much power and AWD. I have a 2.0L turbo @ 263hp in my car and get right about 30 hwy (going between 70-75mph).
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