Subaru WRX Premium

FastBlast

DONíT GO looking for major changes on Subaruís MY18 WRX; unless youíre an eagle-eyed trainspotter, youíre likely to come up blank. This is partly because the few engineering changes are hidden away underneath the skin, but also because at a casual glance little appears to have changed. Externally, thereís a sharper nose with a new grille, steeringresponsive LED headlights and redesigned 18-inch alloys, while extra kit includes heated door mirrors, a larger 5.9-inch infotainment touchscreen and, in our Premium level test car, heated front seats, the driverís being eight-way power adjustable. In terms of mechanicals the 2.0-litre turbo boxer four remains at 197kW/350Nm, but there are new high performance brake pads and Ďrevisedí suspension, according to Subaru.

The extra gear has pushed the price of the WRX Premium up a reasonable $750 to $45,640, while the CVT option adds another $3000 but includes Subaruís EyeSight driver assist technology. Driving the latest WRX is a mix of fun and frustration. It remains a quick car, with an appealingly raw, old-school feel to the way it handles Ė this is a good thing Ė and the ride is firm but acceptable for daily use. Unfortunately, there are also a number of shortcomings. The engine has all manner of peaks and troughs in its power curve, with an initial hesitation followed by a burst of mid-range torque before dramatically fading around 5000rpm. Itís also a maddeningly difficult car to drive smoothly; clutch take-up is sudden, the shift is notchy and smooth changes are virtually a lottery. Itís easy to stall, too. The MY18 WRX may be good value, but it needs refining. Ė SN