2009 Subaru Impreza WRX

We'll let you in on a little secret: the all-new-for-2008 Subaru Impreza WRX wasn't actually a WRX. It seems that Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru's parent company, decided at some point during the new car's development that WRX buyers had matured and now wanted something softer, quieter, and more mature. They renamed the WRX the S-GT for the home market and tuned its suspension to drive like a Toyota Camry.

Here in North America, though, the car arrived with WRX badges - and a lot of complaints from both journalists and Subaru fans. Subaru reps assure us that the car sold reasonably well - but to a dramatically different (read: older and less enthusiast) buyer. In an effort to recapture the WRX buyer - the tuner guy - Subaru pulled a rally-style 180 for 2009.

The 2009 WRX can proudly wear its name badge again - this is definitely not a Subaru-style Camry. First things first: the suspension has been fixed, with springs that are 43 percent stiffer in the front and 42 in the rear. The anti-roll bars have been increased in size by 22 percent in the front and 29 percent at the rear. The dampers have been recalibrated, and the front upper strut mounts are straight off the STI. Last year's 205-width all-season tires have been replaced by 225-mm-wide summer performance tires.

All 2009 WRXs receive an STI-style grille and a standard aero package, which includes a front lip spoiler, side ground effects, front and rear bumper extensions, and a rear spoiler. Five-door versions receive a rear diffuser; four-doors receive a new dual exhaust. The seventeen-inch wheels are now painted gray for a more sinister look, and the interior gets a few sporty touches such as metal pedal covers and red stitching.

The 2.5-liter flat-four continues on, now force-fed at 13.3 psi (up from 11.4 psi) courtesy of a larger turbocharger similar to the STI's. Peak power jumps from 224 to 265 hp, torque from 226 to 244 lb-ft.

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