Subaru adds 4-door to Impreza WRX lineup

WRX fans have reason to be excited as Subaru has added a new wide-body sedan model to the Impreza WRX lineup for the 2011 model year.

If youíre reading between the lines you can probably see the smile on my face.

Iím still grinning ear-to-ear.

Already a huge fan of the 5-door Impreza WRX and WRX STI, this week I had the chance to log a lot of seat time in the new Impreza WRX STI wide-body sedan.

If you donít have fun driving this car then you might as well turn in your license.

Thanks in part to a wider track (1.5-inches), stiffer rear subframe bushings and new 18 x 8.5 tires, this car handles like itís on a rail.

Of course, this week I was driving the WRX STI version, which stands for Subaru Tecnica International, the high-performance and motorsports development division of Subaru.

The powerplant for the WRX STI is one of the sweetest engines on the road.

Delivering 305 horsepower and 290 lbs.-ft. torque, turbocharged the horizontally opposed Boxer 4 with intercooler is, well, an absolute joy.

Mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission, this car was designed for winding country roads.

And while technically classified as a performance car, what I appreciated most about the Impreza WRX STI sedan is how easy it is to drive around town. With most of my routine daily driving taking place in the city limits, I found it as well mannered and comfortable in the 30 mph zones between stop lights as it was out on the open road where I had a chance to let the turbocharger roar.

Itís one of those rare cars that can handle daily driving during the week and then hit the local track on the weekend.

It also features Subaruís symmetrical all-wheel drive with driver control center differential, allowing the driver to select three performance modes and six differential locking settings.

The driver also has the ability to select the level of stability and traction control intervention. To give an indication of how much fun Iíve had driving this car, I havenít spent any time playing with the audio system.

While I could fill the entire column with the WRX STIís performance specs and how much fun this car is to drive, Iíd be remiss not to mention that itís also nicely equipped with a lot of creature comforts that make the drive that much more pleasing.

In just hitting the highlights, some of the standard features include: 3-spoke leather-wrapped STI steering wheel with buttons for cruise control, audio system and Bluetooth; aluminum-alloy pedal covers; automatic climate control system with cabin air filtration; HID headlights; incline start assist; performance design front seats with integral head restraints; power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry; and Subaruís advanced airbag system with six airbags.

Treat yourself: Test drive the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI sedan.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX

5-seat 4-door or 5-door midsize performance vehicle†

All-wheel drive

Trim packages:

WRX, WRX STI

PRICE RANGE:

$26,000-$40,000

ENGINE:

2.5L Boxer 4 (265 hp/244 T)

2.5L turbo 4 (305 hp/290 T)

TRANSMISSION:

5-speed manual (WRX)

6-speed manual (WRX STI)

EPA: 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway (WRX STI)

FUEL: Premium unleaded

TRACTION CONTROL:

Driver control center differential, vehicle dynamics control and traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 180.3/173.8 inches*

WHEELBASE: 103.3 inches

WIDTH: 70.7 inches

HEIGHT: 57.9 inches

WEIGHT: 3373-3384 lbs.

TRACK: 60.2/60.6

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 16.9 gallons

* denotes 4-door/5-door

SAFETY: Dual front dual-depth front airbags, seat-mounted head curtain side impact airbags, remote keyless entry, et. al.