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2009 Subaru Impreza WRX/Sti

In a never-ending battle of fisticuffs with Mitsubishi, Subaru ratchets up the Impreza to keep pace

Photo: Subaru Canada.The big news is the new WRX265 with, you guessed it, 265 horsepower; 224-horse WRX and the 300-horsepower STi return; standard all-wheel-drive of course, as in all Subaru models.

While there are plenty of competitors in the small-car category, there's only one that Subaru really seems to care about: Mitsubishi. Mostly, the rivalry was at the top end of the scale between the 295-horsepower Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the 300-horsepower Subaru WRX STi.

However, with standard all-wheel-drive and a 224-horsepower WRX model, the battle for the middle ground clearly belonged to Subaru. Well, apparently Mitsubishi had just about enough of that and dropped in a new Ralliart model with 237 horsepower to trump the WRX's 224.

So, what has Subaru done? Added a new WRX265 model that literally boosts the horsepower to 265.

What's next? We can't wait to see, but this is significant change considering that the current Impreza has only been on the street for a single year. The model lineup thus becomes a little broader for 2009 and includes the base Impreza 2.5i, the WRX, the pumped-up-with-extra-suds WRX265 the really-pumped-up-with-extra-extra-suds WRX STi. Mix in the sedan and hatchback body styles here and there and you've got plenty of reading to do before you hit the dealership.

During the redesign process for the 2008 model year, the Impreza was not made any larger despite a nearly 10-centimetre gain in space between the front and rear wheels. In fact, though, the hatchback model is a little smaller than the previous version with a bit less space behind the back seat.

However, the new Impreza benefits from a less intrusive rear suspension that translates into a wider, deeper trunk and, claims Subaru, better handling and reduced road noise.

Subaru's tape measure shows more front shoulder and rear leg room inside the reshaped cabin. A 170-horsepower 2.5-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder (the engine sits flat with two cylinders straddling each side of the crankshaft) is found in base models.

Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or available four-speed automatic as well as a six-speed manual for the STi. Base models arrive with air conditioning, cruise control and power windows, locks and mirrors as well as stability control (to help prevent a skid or spin) and six airbags.

The rally-inspired WRX adds climate control, limited-slip differential, larger wheel and tire package, fancier interior trim with performance bucket seats, bigger brakes and an available aero body kit.

Fast Facts

Base price/2009 Impreza 2.5i 4-door: $20,995 Cdn.
Type: Four-door sedan; four-door hatchback/wagon
Base engine (hp): 2.5-litre SOHC H4 (170)
Optional Engine : 2.5-litre DOHC H4, turbocharged (224, WRX/265, WRX265)
Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive
Transmission: Five-speed manual; four-speed automatic (opt.)
Mileage (city/hwy): 10/7 (MT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 1,420
Basic warranty (years/km): 3/60,000. Major components 5/100,000.
Roadside assistance: No

Posted July 6, 2009. Source: Wheelbase Communications.

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