Subaru Impreza WRX owners are a pretty fanatical lot. They love their cars for their funky body styling, spunky turbocharged engines and athletic handling that would shame many pricier sport coupes and sedans. Yet reading message boards about the redesigned 2008 WRX, you'd think Subaru has made the biggest business blunder since the introduction of New Coke.
The uproar mostly has to do with Subaru's approach. For this new Impreza, Subaru is hoping to attract a wider customer base. It improved the quality of the interior, softened the suspension tuning for a better ride quality and took a more conservative approach toward styling.
Unfortunately, Subaru enthusiasts think that it softened the suspension too much and sanitized the styling to the point of pure blandness. So has the WRX truly lost its mojo? We tested a 2008 WRX hatchback to find out.
Like the previous Subaru Impreza WRX, the 2008 version has plenty of get-up-and-go. Our test car skedaddled to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds and flashed through the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds, quicker than cars like the Honda Civic Si. Braking was similarly solid, with a stop of 123 feet from 60 mph.
Swapping gears with the five-speed manual's gearshift is pleasant enough, with a fairly precise run through the gates and an easily modulated clutch pedal. Enthusiasts will likely also dig the turbocharged flat-4's healthy growl. Sadly, fuel economy isn't impressive, with EPA ratings of 19 miles per premium gallon city, 24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. In our time with the car, our admittedly heavy feet resulted in a combined figure of 18 mpg.
Anyone who has driven the previous WRX will be most disappointed in the new version's softer suspension tuning. Although the window sticker states under standard features "Suspension: Sport-Tuned," it could've fooled us. Perhaps they meant "sport" in the same light as lawn bowling or badminton.
In an attempt to win over folks who might've deemed the previous car's underpinnings too stiff, the chassis guys went too far the other way. Take on a twisty road and you won't feel the buttoned-down composure you'd expect, but rather an abundance of body roll. As a result, this compact sport sedan doesn't inspire much confidence, nor does it feel all that sporty. Perhaps the assembly line routed the WRX engines into the standard Impreza by mistake? We're not sure. On the upside, the WRX does deliver a compliant ride on pockmarked city roads and during high-speed cruising. But we think most shoppers would trade this for better handling.
The WRX's well-shaped sport seats offer solid long-distance support as well as ample side bolstering, though the latter is of questionable value given the car's lack of cornering prowess. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel and height-adjustable driver seat allowed a wide range of staffers — from 5-foot-5 to 6-foot-3 in height — to find an ideal driving position. And the WRX's relatively high roof line means tall folks can ride comfortably; we had a pair of 6-foot-1 staffers seated one behind the other with ample headroom and without knees touching the seatback.
At speed on the freeway, the WRX offers a quiet ride, with wind and road noise well muted. Hard acceleration brings a strong growl from the engine compartment, but as mentioned before, we imagine that enthusiasts will take delight in the sound. We certainly did.
The climate control knobs are located rather low on the center stack, but apart from that, most controls in the Subaru WRX are a snap to use. The navigation system features a simple interface and high-mounted screen. It's nice that there are steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, but the small, similar-shaped buttons take a little acclimation before they can be operated without a glance.
Should you choose the hatchback version of the WRX (like our test car), you'll find generous cargo capacity. With the split rear seats up, there are 19 cubic feet available (about the same as a Cadillac DTS). Flip them down and it expands to 44.4 cubes. Our test car was fitted with the optional cargo tray, a grippy mat with a lipped edge, which proved ideal for keeping things from sliding around. Stowing a couple of golf bags or a large suitcase back there is no sweat. Thanks to the roomy cabin and tall greenhouse, securing a rear-facing child seat in the back is also a snap.
Design/Fit and Finish
Even though it sports a hood scoop, 17-inch alloy wheels and spoilers fore and aft, the latest WRX still manages to look rather tame. That undesired effect is due chiefly to the generic grille and bland body styling. The upshot is that the WRX is more invisible to Johnny Law while cruising the interstate than its harder-edged, extroverted STI sibling.
The cabin is much more attractive than the exterior, with a sweeping dash design, tasteful faux metallic accents and solid build and materials quality throughout. A large tach sits front and center, emphasizing the WRX's feisty performance.
Who should consider this vehicle
Those who value straight-line gusto and the all-weather grip of all-wheel drive but don't care much about athletic handling may want to check out the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX. Everyone else should consider the worthy rivals shown below or just wait until next year, when Subaru is slated to firm up the WRX's suspension and give it more power to boot.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2008 Subaru Impreza Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Subaru Impreza and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Impreza featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Subaru Impreza and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Impreza 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Impreza.
Review This is truly a great car. It is versatile, safe, reliable, and fun to drive. With 44.4 cu/ft of cargo space, 60/40 fold-flat seats, the car can handle anything I throw at it. With the car's AWD system and 6 standard air bags it offer's a level of confidence on the road unlike any of the other cars I test drove. Lastly, Subaru has found a great balance between ride and handling. The car rides completely different then it's predecessor with a subtle ride, yet still contains the prowess to be tossed into a turn. The car is not without it's faults, though, as the hard plastic that completely covers the interior and tires seem to amplify the little road noise that find their way into the cabin.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Subaru Impreza 2008 Submodel Types: Hatchback, Sedan, Wagon, WRX STI, WRX STi, WRX STI Limited, Coupe
Available Trims: 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Limited, 2.0i Sport, 2.0i Premium PZEV, 2.0i, 2.0i PZEV, WRX, 2.5i, Outback Sport, 2.0i Sport Premium PZEV, WRX STI, 2.0i Limited PZEV, 2.5i Premium, 2.5 i, 2.0i Sport Limited PZEV, WRX Limited, Outback Sport Special Edition, 2.0i Sport Premium, WRX Premium, WRX STi, 2.0i Sport Limited, 2.5 RS, Outback, WRX TR, 2.5, 2.5 i Special Edition, WRX STI Limited, L, TS
Exterior Colors: Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal White Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, Dark Gray Metallic, Lapis Blue Pearl, Satin White Pearl, Island Blue Pearl, Venetian Red Pearl, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Crimson Red Pearl, Lithium Red Pearl, Obsidian Black Pearl, Carbide Gray Metallic, Quartz Blue Pearl, Spark Silver Metallic, Marine Blue Pearl, Lightning Red, Jasmine Green Metallic, Steel Silver Metallic/Spark Silver Metallic, Crystal Gray Metallic, Obsidian Black Pearl/Dark Gray Metallic, Deep Cherry Pearl, Platinum Silver Metallic, Camellia Red Pearl, Plasma Blue Pearl, WR Blue Pearl, Newport Blue Pearl, Sage Green Metallic/Steel Silver Metallic, Paprika Red Pearl, San Remo Red, Sky Blue Metallic, WR Blue Mica, Steel Gray Metallic, Aspen White, Java Black Pearl, Regal Blue Pearl, Regal Blue Pearl/Steel Gray Metallic, Sage Green Metallic, Sage Green Metallic/Ice Silver Metallic, Sedona Red Pearl, Topaz Gold Metallic, Urban Gray Metallic, Blue Ridge Pearl, Crystal Grey Metallic, Garnet Red Pearl, Newport Blue Pearl/Steel Silver Metallic, Platinum Silver Metallic/Steel Gray Metallic, Savanna Green Metallic/Graystone Metallic, Urban Gray Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Aqua Blue Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Aspen White/Steel Gray Metallic, Deep Sea Blue Pearl, Evergreen Metallic/Urban Gray Metallic, Gray Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Newport Blue Pearl/Urban Gray Metallic, Obsidian Black Pearl/Urban Gray Metallic, San Remo Red/Steel Gray Metallic, Savanna Green, Sky Blue Metallic/Ice Silver Metallic, Steel Gray Metallic/Crystal Gray Metallic, Sunlight Gold Opal
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Black, Ivory cloth, Black leather, Ivory, Ivory leather, Off Black cloth, Carbon Black cloth, Graphite Gray/Carbon Black leather/sueded microfiber, Off Black, Black Alcantara/Carbon Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Gray Knit, Desert Beige cloth, Gray, Blue Ecsaine/Black, Medium Gray Flat Woven, Beige cloth, Carbon Black leather, Dark Gray Flat Woven, Gray Knit, Off Black/Blue Ecsaine
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Rear Bench Seats, Alarm, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Stability Control, Aux Audio Inputs, USB Inputs, Bluetooth, Heated seats, Back-up camera, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Post-collision safety system, Keyless Entry/Start, Auto Climate Control, Leather Seats, Sunroof/Moonroof, Upgraded Headlights, Power Driver Seat, Upgraded Stereo, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Navigation, Pre-collision safety system, Remote Start