My, how the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX has grown. The plucky little sedan has gone off to summer camp and returned as a full-figured looker. Now donning its bigger sister's widebody dress and uprated wheels at all four corners, there are few tells this thing isn't fully capable of stopping at a moment's notice. And all we can say is: It's about time.
Even though the WRX has always had plenty of pep and other worldly grip, its outer shell never quite managed to hint at the go-fast fun lurking underneath its sizable hood scoop. No more.
The car has ditched its Clark Kent glasses in favor of a look that's been distilled from the mighty STI – one part Gundam, two parts track-hardened awesome. The move is destined to give the oft-neglected Rex the attention it deserves in the Subaru stable for the first time in years, though the change is more than a set of fenders. Subaru's engineers have poured over the car to wring even more potency out of one of the tuning universe's most capable platforms straight from the factory.
It's easy to think that the big news here is the WRX's new sheetmetal, and to some extent, it is. By gracing the WRX with the same wide shell as the more sinister STI, Subaru was able to incorporate a few mechanical feats that would have been otherwise impossible under the old skin.
The new metal has added 1.3 inches to the width, and the 2011 model immediately looks stockier and more muscular than its predecessor. Where the 2010 car used the same doughy lines of the base Impreza, the 2011 now wears the ripped body of an MMA warrior.
Up front, you're likely to recognize the hood, fascia and fenders – they're the same kit tacked on to the 2010 STI – and predictably, they manage to look right at home on the less athletic WRX. Move toward the rear, and the wider track is somewhat more pronounced. The car now has hips the likes of which you aren't going to see anywhere outside of the show car circuit. It's not going to be for everyone, but we're digging it in more ways the one. However, we have a harder time with the rear fascia. The inverted scoop design is neither functional nor flattering, and for once, we found ourselves pining for the same faux-diffuser look every other designer is playing with at the moment. It's like the tail of the WRX just won't stop smiling at us, and that's just not natural.