Acura Integra ASpec Tech 6MT in Liquid Carbon Metallic (on order)
Now that the new Nissan Z Performance is clearly out of my price range, it's time to hone in on other possibilities if the Integra doesn't work out. I have no reason to think that the Teggy won't, so really this is also about driving other cars I'm considering when I can. Today, happily, was such a day, as Tucson Subaru had a bright red 2022 Subaru WRX Premium 6MT with added moonroof, Harmon Kardon stereo, and short-throw shifter, on the lot.
Until the Integra reservations opened up, I had a Limited Subaru WRX in World Rally Blue Pearl (6MT) on order. In fact, it was Tucson's first WRX to be ordered (and arrive) but I decided to wait on that so I could compare with the Integra, and also because some reviews weren't kind to some aspects of the WRX--and neither was the increased cost nor decreased MPG (19/26). Plus, you know, all that plastic cladding.
Let's start there, because it's especially noticeable on the otherwise very attractive bright red of my tester. I will say the cladding doesn't bother me nearly as much in person, even on the back end, which has been compared to a diaper. Maybe because all my attention was on those very cool magna taillights. Civic-like? Yeah, a bit, but really cool nonetheless. In the front, I've always been in love with the hood scoop, and I think the front end of the WRX looks better than ever.
The one I drove costs $36K. It doesn't have all the features of the Limited, of course--no power alcantara seats, for instance--but does have the upgraded infotainment and even with the optional moonroof, stereo, and STS, it's $2K less. I found the seats to be pretty comfortable and a gorgous dark gray/black wetsuit-type material with red accents--definitely more comfortable than those firm Elantra N seats. And while the WRX doesn't have the cool digital dash or related features of the N (and those are so cool), the large tablet-sized screen (though it does have glare) wasn't as offputting as I expected. The analog displays for MPH and RPM are old-fashioned in today's world of digital dashes, but there's something compelling about that, too: old school driver focus. Still, once you've seen a good digital dash in action (think N, think BRZ, think Nissan Z), there's a bit of a sigh when it comes to anything else.
The WRX with the new 2.4 L engine makes 271 HP and 258 ft lb of torque, if I'm recalling correctly, and from initial startup you can feel that power with its heavy bass rumble. Not Mustang V8 rumble, by any means, but a rumble you feel as much as hear at idle. I kind of dug it, but wondered also if it would get old after a while. And perhaps surprisingly, driving it, the engine isn't that loud. I'd like it a bit louder in fact. Not sure if that's an adjustable setting--doesn't seem like much is with no sport or comfort settings and no adjustable dampers. So noise is as much road and tire noise as anything else. But it's not horrible--not as much road noise as the BRZ, for example, but not as quiet when you want it to be as the Elantra N.
Nor overall quite as smooth as the N, though both have steering that isn't as tight or firm as I'd like (at least until N mode for the Elantra). But I'd say it's definitely as fast and hugs the corners quite a bit better. Thanks AWD. This is a car that you can both punch off the line and fly through corners with a wicked smile on your face. Indeed, it was probably too easy to find myself at speed, hurling myself around anything close to a corner with the salesman, with whom I've driven a couple other vehicles including the BRZ, egging me on. Which is to say, I could see myself driving too fast in this car, and totally loving it.
Other things of interest: the trunk is a nice size, definitely bigger than the Elantra N; plenty of room inside for this 6'5" driver, and great visibility. The seat position feels a bit higher than a normal sports sedan might, but I probably could have lowered the seat. I'd like the steering wheel to be a bit thicker and the leather better (I'm thinking of the Elantra N and VW GTI). On the other hand, the short-throw shifter definitely resolves some of the complaints I've seen in reviews. A tad notchy, but still felt great. And the clutch felt great: smooth and just the right weight.
So I think the WRX has slid up to second for me, even though the gas mileage is pretty horrible. The BRZ had been there (well, as a placeholder for the Z), but the WRX is so much more practical, and faster, and AWD.
A few photos of the WRX I drove:
Curious as to whether the WRX is on anyone else's list? Your thoughts?
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