Subaru WRX CVT Premium : Our review – EFTM

Subaru WRX CVT Premium : Our review

For me the Subaru WRX conjures up thoughts stemming from the 90’s of excessively tuned aftermarket crazy machines. Boy racers would slap a “fully sick” enormous exhaust to the...

For me the Subaru WRX conjures up thoughts stemming from the 90’s of excessively tuned aftermarket crazy machines. Boy racers would slap a “fully sick” enormous exhaust to the rear and wind up the turbo driven boxer engine to unbelievably hissy levels. For a time it was also the go to getaway car for undesirables, due to its tenacious AWD grip and flighty performance but also because of its lack of theft deterrents like DataDot and engine immobiliser. Of course that was eons ago, now the fourth generation sedan only version based on the Impreza is far more disciplined. Chris Bowen has been driving the Subaru WRX CVT Premium, one notch below the STI hero model.


The 10 Minute Test Drive

There’s an immediate sense of underling rawness to the WRX when you first jump inside. Its sporting bent can be felt via the chubby wheel and seats that tend to hug you. But the allure of what’s on offer is spoilt a little by a cabin that’s a tad behind the times. Harping on about the quality of plastics happens too much in motoring reviews, however the Rex does suffer from some ordinary materials. But it’s not a complete turn off with some nice carbon fibre look trim and reasonably attractive layout. Despite being the Premium model you never quite get that sense of occasion many new cars have today.

However the WRX is all about the driving and pleasingly if you’re after some above average up and go you won’t be disappointed. The 2.0-litre version of the Subaru’s boxer engine spools up in a very enjoyable way. Turbo lag is a classic feature of any WRX so if you’re after neck breaking off the line acceleration, look at paying for the STI badge. But when hitting that sweet spot with full turbo boost on song, this performance sedan still lives up to its hard-hitting reputation.


What’s most surprising is the nature of the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), a system not normally associated with go fast cars. It acts almost like a traditional six-speed automatic with three distinct programs known as Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive). “I” mode provides for everyday fuel-efficient throttle response, “S” mode adds a bit more spark while “S#” is the full-blown option for those “I’m going to have a serious crack” moments. Paddle shifters add to that familiar auto feel and you’ll notice the tacho flicking around accordingly. This is no droning, over revving boring CVT offering.

Cornering hard is what the WRX does best, the AWD system and clever torque vectoring produce unbelievable gravity defying feats if you’re brave enough. You can feel the technology at work with power and drive being sent to the wheel or wheels reaching crisis point.


All in all it’s a very well sorted experience, just don’t expect a soaring, inspiring exhaust note. Despite the four pipes hanging out the rear the sound produced is minimal and not helped by a rather benign engine note.

Ins And Outs

Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol boxer engine the sub STI model pumps out 197kW/350Nm. However a good 3000rpm needs to be dialled up before all that oomph is released. No doubt purists will go for the six-speed manual but for an everyday, liveable drive I’m more than enamoured with the CVT.

Visibility is excellent in the WRX, the windscreen seems larger than most and all round large glass windows provide for an above average view of the world. The seating position is a little too high at first, I like to sit low. But in time this was no real problem.


The Premium badge scores you a sunroof, convincing leather trim, a powerful yet cabin shaking Harmon Kardon audio system, power driver’s seat, 17 inch-alloys, satellite navigation, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic LED headlights, push button start and full Bluetooth connectivity. A reversing camera is unfortunately displayed on the smaller screen which sits atop the afterthought 4.3-inch main screen. Although the smaller offering does cater to the inner nerd with graphical displays for wheel slip and a turbo pressure gauge plus other facts and figures.
The sprint to 100km/h is over in 6.3 seconds, but it’s more the rolling accerlation pace that brings on a grin. You may have noticed the distinct lack of enormous rear wing on the rear boot, that’s saved for the STI model in our upcoming review!

Hip Pocket


You can pick up the now debadged Impreza WRX from $38,990 before on roads. For an extra $5000 you score the as-tested Premium model. The CVT option weighs in at $2000 so our vehicle sat at $45,990. Fuel use is claimed at 8.6L/100km on a minimum of 95RON, you’ll easily score higher than that, and I pulled a consistent 10.2L/100km.

EFTM Rubber Stamp



For the price, the Subaru WRX Premium CVT is a massive bargain, simple as that. What you get is a reasonably large sedan with good boot space, plenty of room for four adults or the kids and an underlying performance edge that will get the heart fluttering. What you don’t get is a luxurious, serene or premium ride. The WRX has left the hoon element way back in the dim dark 1990’s, but it still has that certain edgyness that might just appeal to the inner speed demon within (at your own peril). Thankfully it’s also now no longer the natural enemy of an unprotected ATM and those with a penchant for wearing balaclavas. We award the 2015 Subaru WRX the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp of Approval.



Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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