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The Subaru WRX has become an iconic car among enthusiasts and commuters alike. Subaru brand loyalty is one of the strongest among any other brand. This brand loyalty is exemplified by most owners only buying from the automaker or displaying the ownership badge on their trunk. The most influential and impactful vehicle from the automaker is the Subaru WRX. A sportier version of their standard Impreza model. But why is it so special, and what does WRX actually stand for?

What does WRX stand for?

Subaru WRX rally
1993 Subaru WRX Rally | Getty Images

Starting in the early 1990s, Subaru took the regular Impreza model and added a turbocharger to the engine. In the past, Subaru used its incredible all-wheel drive systems to fight in the rally racing world. However, when they launched the Impreza WRX, it became a domination rather than a fight. Truly giving it their all, WRX actually stands for World Rally eXperimental. Subarus foray into creating a powerful, small, lightweight car to crush the competition. The Subaru WRX would do just that, taking three consecutive manufacturers’ titles in the World Rally Championship (WRC). These weren’t the only wins for Subaru, as they won their class in the 24-hour Nurburgring race and cemented the car as an icon.

What makes a WRX a WRX?

2022 Subaru WRX in blue
2022 Subaru WRX | Subaru

The true indicator of a WRX is the turbocharger. Subaru took its iconic boxer engine, the EJ20, and strapped a turbocharger to it. Packaging the now powerful and responsive engine in a car that weighs under 3000 pounds makes for a lot of fun. From 1992 to 2007, all of the Subaru WRXs were technically homologation cars. However, due to the rules of rally, your race car has to have a street version available for purchase. This rule meant that the average person could go to a dealer and pick up a Subaru that was 80% of the way to being a rally race car.

Unfortunately, Subaru dropped as a manufacturer in 2008. But the brand continues to produce the WRX to this day. However, with the latest version and sixth generation of the iconic car, there is a polarizing view on the historic nameplate. While the car still holds much of the rally pedigree, it is much more subdued than the older homologation models.

Is a WRX Subaru fast?

2022 Subaru WRX rolling
2022 Subaru WRX | Subaru

Pound for pound, the Subaru WRX is one of the most versatile cars on the market. Although they aren’t as fast as you would expect in stock form, modified versions make them monstrous. Even with the first generation, modifying your WRX is just as common as getting gas. To get the most out of the car, there is a slew of aftermarket part makers and tuners to turn your standard car into a race car for the street. Whether that be rally racing, drag racing, circuit racing, or even drifting, there is a modification to help you.

For the sixth generation of the car, the design is rather dull. Some completely despise it, but what can’t be ignored is the performance. According to Car&Driver, the 2023 Subaru WRX makes 271 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with the standard six-speed transmission, this lets the car rock up to 5.5 seconds 0-60 and a 13.9-second quarter mile. Considering that the turbocharged Subaru is under $31,000, these times are very respectable. Of course, modifications are already on their way to make it even faster.

More than just a name, the Subaru WRX

To many, the Subaru WRX is a stand-out car for a number of reasons. Some just want to have a performance all-wheel drive vehicle for a reasonable price. Others grew up watching the late great Ken Block in gymkhana videos or his late hero Colin McRae dominating the rally scene with the iconic 555 rally car. But, for whatever reason you hold, almost everyone can appreciate what the WRX means to enthusiasts and consumers alike.


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