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Well everyone, I just got back home from driving a 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan, about two hours ago. There is a brand new Acura/Subaru dealership in my area that is fairly close to where I live, so I decided to take a test drive of this car that seems to be getting so many accolades. I know the roads in the area really well, so that made the test drive more objective. The car that I test drove was a blue sedan with a manual transmission.<P> <IMG SRC="http://a332.g.akamai.net/7/332/936/0001/www.edmunds.com/edweb/cook/wrx/media/02.subaru.impreza.f3-4.350.jpg"> <P><B>Exterior</B><BR>Looks are always a very subjective area so this is mostly my own opinion. Like most people have observed, the WRX looks better in person than it does in pictures. The headlights and foglights are fairly large compared to the overall size of the car. Some people might find this a bit of a turn-off. It looks a little overdone, styling wise. The color blue looks really nice on the WRX, complimenting the lines of the car well. Although, I think that this car would look best in black. The basic lines of the car are typical sedan-like. There is nothing really special about the side profile or rear of the car, with the exception of the buldging fenders and large rear spoiler. The car that I drove had the standard 16-inch rims which look nice, but I think that the optional 17-inch rims would look far better. Overall, all that I can say about the styling is that it is unique. At the present time, there is not much else on the road that looks like it, and everytime I would pass someone on the road, people would take a second look at the car. I prefer the more layed back styling of the Mitsubish EVO VII, because the WRX seems a little too "boy-racer-ish". I think that the styling of the WRX will have a polarizing effect for most people, you either like it or you don't. It seems like Subaru has done a good job with the fit and finish of the exterior.<P><B>Interior</B><BR>The interior of the WRX is fairly nice. The best thing that I liked about the interior were the guages and steering wheel. The numbers are large, very easy to read, and they are placed in a logical position. Having a boost guage would be a nice touch though. The Momo steering wheel is really nice too. It is thick and covered in a nice grain of leather. The car that I drove had the upgraded sound system, but the performance was average at best. The 80 watt sound system had clear reception and the controls were easy to use, but the overall sound staging was not that great. I think that this has to do mostely with the acoustics of the car. Most of the other controls are easy to reach and are in a good position. The seats feel really good, but they might be a bit narrow for some people. Of course the materials are not up to VW AG standards, but they are not meant to be. For the price of this car, the interior fit and finish is good, and the quality of materials is competent.<P> <IMG SRC="http://a332.g.akamai.net/7/332/936/0001/www.edmunds.com/edweb/cook/wrx/media/02.subaru.impreza.dash.350.jpg"> <P> <IMG SRC="http://a332.g.akamai.net/7/332/936/0001/www.edmunds.com/edweb/cook/wrx/media/02.subaru.impreza.centerc.350.jpg"> <P><B>Engine/Transmission</B><BR>This is by far the most interesting aspect of this car. From around 1,000 - 3,000 rpm there is nothing really special about this car, it drives like a normal Impreza. But when the tach hits about 3,500 - 6,000 rpm, the car takes off with no looking back. You can definitely tell that this is a turbocharged car. The car will go from 30-80 mph in a snap. I love the feel of that turbocharged kick. The only downside is that there is some turbo-lag. There is a slight waiting period from the time you step on the gas to the time the turbo spools up. Hitting the gas on the 90-degree turn from a dead stop should be an exercise in caution, because the turbo will kick in right when you start to straighten out the car. This engine is surprisingly smooth for a turbocharged 4-cylinder. At the upper rpm range, there is not much vibration or harshness. The manual transmission in the WRX is a good match for the engine. The shifter has a medium throw length and moves fairly smoothly into place. First gear seems to be geared a little on the low side. Overall, I would say that the engine/transmission is a definite kick in the pants. The Subaru AWD system seems to work flawlessly. The car felt very neutral with no torque steer at all. Since this car has excellent grip, the flawless execution of the AWD system was no surprise.<P><B>Ride/Drive</B><BR>Upon first driving this car, I was surprised at how supple the ride was. I thought that the standard WRX suspension would have higher spring rates and firmer shocks. The first thing that you will notice is how solid the car feels. There is not a squeak or rattle to be found anywhere, but those things should not be expected in any new car. The car hugs the road with lots of grip in curves, but you will pay the price by feeling larger bumps in the road. The suspension does not seem to have that much travel compliance to it over large dips. The overall ride quality of this car is tight and will not rattle your insides out. The car seems to be built very well, because it feel so solid inside. Not something that I can say for a lot of cars that I have driven. The one thing that I was dissapointed in was the wind noise above 70 mph which is very noticeable. It comes from all directions inside the cabin of the car.<P><B>Overall Impressions</B><BR>This car is a thrill to drive, there is no doubt about it. They only catch to it is that you have to be above 3,500 rpm to enjoy those thrills. The whine from the turbocharger is a joy to listen to as one blips the thottle. During normal crusing, turbo and engine both are quite. I can assure you that I liked this car, but it was nothing spectacular like some seem to suggest it is. The single best thing about this car is the dealer supported add-on parts. There are so many different parts that one can add on to the WRX, which is quite extensive. The nice part is that those parts all have a Subaru warranty.<P>So there you have it, my 'imprezzions' of the 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan. For the people that it is supposed to serve and its own niche market, I think that it is a winner. I can't wait until the Mitsubishi EVO VII comes state-side, it looks to me more in line with my tastes. Although, cheers to Subaru, the Scoobie WRX is one sweet ride. <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/smile.gif"><P>-Drew<p>[This message has been edited by InDy (edited 03-23-2001).]
 
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