One Gear Shy

To solve the problem for good, and improve the car markedly, Subaru needs to replace the five-speed manual with a six-speed. So that you know where I'm coming from, I'm not someone who demands six speeds in everything; theoretically it can improve acceleration without sacrificing high-speed cruising, but that doesn't make it a necessity. There are some cars that work just fine with a five-speed manual. The WRX just isn't one of them. The gear ratios are relatively far apart, such that I found myself driving in 1st gear Ч around parking lots, in slow-and-go traffic, etc. It might not be damaging, but I was taught that 1st gear exists to get you into 2nd gear, where the driving starts. I drove in 1st gear more in the WRX than I have in any other car I can think of.

You can also opt for the four-speed automatic with clutchless-manual mode. Again, four speeds isn't a lot for an automatic these days. I haven't driven it, but I doubt another gear or two would hurt, and it would likely improve gas mileage. The WRX gives up some efficiency compared to the regular Impreza, and the WRX's turbocharger requires premium gas. The highway rating is 25 mpg versus the Impreza 2.5i's 27 mpg. The cars' city ratings are the same at 20 mpg Ч though the new model's manual transmission costs you another mpg, for 19 mpg. (Remember when manuals were always more efficient?) For what it's worth, the city mileage is up over the previous WRX's 18 mpg.

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist are standard where the regular Impreza has rear drums. They perform very well, and they don't require as much pedal pressure as Subarus of the past Ч a common complaint. All-wheel drive is of course standard, as is an electronic stability system with traction control for added protection. More on the all-wheel drive in the next section.

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