Originally Posted by YBNormalhttp://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do...ticleId=120172
What is it?
2008 Subaru Impreza WRX
What's special about it?
By the time the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX makes its way to the U.S. later this year, much of the whining about its conservative styling will have subsided. The WRX die-hards will have calmed down, put their blue-and-gold socks back on and started to appreciate the 2008 Impreza's modest improvements.
The rest of the car-buying public will probably take notice, too. A much improved interior, additional features and a new hatchback body style to go along with the standard sedan should give this Impreza considerably more mainstream appeal than its predecessor.
Courting mainstream buyers has led Subaru to focus its engineering resources on improved packaging and build quality instead of higher-horsepower engines and more complex transmissions. The result is an Impreza lineup with more spacious, higher-quality interiors powered by carryover engines hooked to four- and five-speed transmissions.
Most of the extra interior room comes from a wheelbase that's 3.7 inches longer. There are also an extra 2 inches of living space between the doors, although the exterior width is unchanged. The hatchback is 1.7 inches shorter in overall length than the wagon it replaces, while the sedan measures 4.9 inches longer than its predecessor. Both are expected to arrive with fractionally reduced curb weights.
A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel makes getting comfortable in the driver seat easier than before. We also sat in the backseat of the hatchback with the driver seat adjusted for a 6-footer. There's plenty of knee and toe room to sit comfortably, but it's the increased headroom that really makes this Impreza feel bigger inside.
Higher-quality materials are used throughout and the overall dash design is similar to the good-looking layout in the Tribeca . It's a relatively simple setup that maintains the Impreza's standard three-dial climate-control arrangement and clear analog dials. A navigation system finally makes its way onto the options sheet of the WRX, along with Subaru's electronic stability control system.
In addition to the extra passenger room, a new double-wishbone rear suspension helps clear some room in the cargo area, too. Open up the hatch and the suspension struts no longer poke their way into the available loading space. The sedan's trunk is positively huge for a midsize four-door, although Subaru didn't give us any hard numbers. The front suspension is an almost direct carryover from the current Legacy setup. Standard Imprezas will get 16-inch wheels, while the higher-performance WRX models will get 17-inch wheels with 205/50R17 Bridgestone RE92A tires at each corner.
Enthusiasts hoping to see big power gains will be disappointed. Both the base model Impreza and the more powerful Impreza WRX models will use carryover engines with minimal upgrades. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine in the WRX will continue with roughly 225 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of torque, but more of that torque will arrive earlier. A five-speed manual remains the standard transmission and a four-speed automatic is optional.
Subaru has been tight-lipped about changes to the all-wheel-drive system. It has promised some improvements, but provided no details on what to expect. Same goes for the steering, although a quicker ratio is confirmed. No word on any upgrades for the brakes and we don't expect any. Additional details will be released as the car gets closer to its on-sale date in the fall. An ultrahigh-performance STI version will debut around that time and go on sale early next year.
What's Edmunds' take?
A lack of new engines and conservative styling makes this a tough sell to the Impreza faithful. The much broader audience of compact sedan and hatchback buyers, however, are likely to find this more grown-up Impreza more appealing than its predecessor. — Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor