Funny how things change.
And they’re all lovely vehicles. But back in 2002, when you bought a Subie, it was probably a WRX.
And it was revelation – a rally proven, high-performance legend that the brand finally decided to bring over here. And it radically changed what people thought about Subaru. And it was the beginning of a long relationship between the cute little sedan or hatch and those who love to drive.
Well, now we have the 2019 WRX Series.Gray (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) and as Subie continues to grow the business with sensible, capable family vehicles, we’re happy to say they haven’t forgotten about we, the drivers.
Gray – Hold the Flannel
On the outside, the WRX is pretty much the same. When the latest model came out, they jettisoned the hatchback, and decided to offer only the sedan. That either matters to you, or doesn’t.
The gray in Series.Gray comes from the exclusive Cool Gray Khaki paint that has a bit of light blue in it, but is a fantastic color to dress a special edition.
The gray is draped over a sedan that has a chunky goodness, with wheel flares, a large front hood scoop, signature daytime running lights, and a large lower intake. It looks a little pissed off. It’s a very competent looking design.
Enhancing the attitude, the Series.Gray stands out from the crowd with LED steering responsive headlights and LED fog lights, special black painted wheels, and red brake calipers. Unique black badging around the vehicle brings an added touch of menace. We like.
Recaro – Hold the Posterior
Inside, the Series.Gray is a mix of addition and deletions. The biggest plus is standard front Recaro brand seats, which do an admirable job of keeping you from sliding around while still being comfortable enough for longer drives. The rear seats have matching fabric. And the swatches of red on all the seats bring a welcome dash of color to an otherwise somber interior. There are some other nice touches, like the contrasting red stitching on the fat leather wheel, and sport pedal covers.
There are also some deletions with this special edition, including the power moonroof, and the Subaru Eyesight safety suite. You’ll have to decide how important these are to you.
The rest of the interior is typical Subie, straightforward, practical, well designed and durable. Hey if you’re looking for luxury in a small sedan, we say check out the Mazda 3. The WRX does have excellent outward visibility, and plenty of interior room. The rear seats split fold, giving you plenty of room for larger objects.
The WRX is really about the driver, and he’s well informed with clear analogue gauges, with an info screen in-between, as well as a useful display in the hooded info center above the touchscreen. While you don’t get navigation, the info-tainment screen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, and we were happy having our WAZE projected where it was easy to see. The climate controls are also easy to use, and large enough to operate easily, even with gloves on.
WRX – Hold on For Your Life!
While there are some subtle changes with the Series.Gray, the thrill of driving the WRX remains. Under the hood is a turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder pumping out an impressive 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm. We were especially stoked to have a 6-speed manual along for the ride – we previously tested the WRX with CVT transmission, and we were not big fans of that transmission.
Putting a stick and a clutch pedal behind that beefy four makes a whole world of difference. But it also requires a bit of concentration – there’s a bit of lag from the turbo and you have to be super-smooth with the clutch or you’ll bog down. Once you get that handled though, the WRX loves being kept on the boil. It wants to be driven hard, and returns the favor with explosive acceleration. Thank goodness Subie sees fit to provide the Series.Gray with Jurid high-performance brake pads to give strong and fade resistant braking.
Throwing the ‘Rex into a turn pushes the power to the all-wheel drive system that does a masterful job of doling out which wheel gets what. You just feel it pull – and pull hard – out of each corner, rocketing you to the next straightaway. The steering feels well-weighted and direct, and you find yourself tackling your favorite on-ramps while you play out rally car driver fantasies in your head.
The ride is a bit firm, and while it does help to keep all that power on the pavement, it could get tiresome. Luckily, the Series.Gray Recaro seats are so supportive and comfortable, it never really bothers you. There is also a bit of road noise that filters in – but these are the tradeoffs for ultimate performance.
Hold on to your wallet – will I go into the Red to get the Gray?
The WRX Series.Gray is an interesting value proposition, and it really depends on your priorities. First of all, the SG is limited to 750 vehicles, so if you snooze you lose. But the 2020 WRX models are now coming in, so don’t despair. If you like the somewhat minimalist approach, the 2020 WRX starts at $27,495, and gives you the same fantastic powertrain as our tester, the same Info-tainment system – it’s a big screaming performance bargain.
Stepping up to a 2020 WRX Premium will run you $29,975, and adds 18-inch alloys, and also opens you up to options like a moonroof, the Lineatronic CVT and the Performance Package with gives you our tester’s Recaro Seats, and also features a Brembo braking system, for a cool $2,850. Perfect for the trackday or tuner driver.
For the driver wanting the nicer things, the WRX Limited starts at $32,095 and gives you a moonroof, 10-way power driver’s seat, and opens the door to the available and excellent Subaru Eyesight Driver Assist safety suite, and navigation.
Our 2019 Series.Gray started out as a WRX Premium and added the Series.Gray package for $3,100. Adding in $850 for destination, we totaled out at $33,480.
Competitors would include the all-wheel drive VW Golf R which comparably would be $40,395, or if you’re willing to forego the AWD, the Jetta GLI is tempting at $30,095.
Both VW’s would be more refined, but the WRX will chase down the much more expensive Golf R at a price much closer to the Jetta. We’d have to say the Series.Gray is excellent value – but the base WRX would be calling our name. Unless of course, you’re madly in love with the Cool Gray Khaki paint, which is pretty cool.
We loved our time with the 2019 Subaru WRX Series.Gray.
Subaru hasn’t forgotten the wonderful, crazy, exhilarating performance sedan that so many driver’s hold close to their hearts.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.