Subaru does something very European. They never seem to be completely satisfied and are constantly tweaking the WRX. Of course, you have the big cycle changes, and the smaller ones, and don’t forget the Special Editions. Since 2002, when it was introduced, the WRX has evolved.
But this is more than just that. The WRX Series. White is something really special. The changes are subtle in the overall scheme of things, and yet, this thing just works. Impressively so.
So is the Series. White the best WRX ever? Let’s find out.
WRX Series. White Exterior – the Plain White Wrapper
Okay, if you’re looking for massive swoopy changes, you have come to the wrong place. Last year we tested the WRX Series. Gray that came in a cool Khaki Gray paint. So, can you guess what color the Series. White comes in? Winner, winner, chicken dinner if you guessed Ceramic White. The body really hasn’t changed much from the Gray, and that’s fine by us.
The battle is long over about Subaru’s choosing to offer the WRX exclusively in Sedan form, so let’s appreciate what we have. This is a great looking car, with fender flares, a hunkered-down stance, a scowling front end with signature LED running lights. A cool addition for the Series – the LED headlights turn with the steering – great for a car that can easily go sideways through turns.
There are a few things for the trained to pick up about the Series. White. We call your attention to the Crystal Black Silica foldable exterior mirrors, side badging and new matte black rear badging. The Bronze-finish 18” alloys remind us of the gold-colored alloys that were part and parcel of the WRX competition look back in 2002, and they also let the bright red Brembo calipers really pop.
The Bilstein-tuned suspension gives a little more crouch over those wheels, and it all looks purposeful – which it is. We also liked that it’s subtle – you see plenty of heavily-modded Subies in these parts, and we like that ours gave off the “factory-special” vibe. Part of the nod to serious performance – no sunroof on the Series. White.
WRX Series. White Interior – the Recaro Experience
Inside, little has changed as well. Most notable are the Ultrasuede-trimmed Recaro seats, 8-way power adjustable for the driver. These are excellent, comfortable seats, and it’s surprising, how different manufacturers spec out their Recaros. For example when tested the Honda Civic Type R, those seats really held you in place, but they were brutal and tight for any kind of daily drive.
Being an upright and sensible sedan puts you in a commanding driver’s position with excellent visibility, and perfectly-placed steering wheel, pedals, and shift lever. It’s clear the WRX is designed by people who know about high-performance driving.
Being an older model, you don’t get the latest and greatest Subaru safety tech like EyeSight, but WRX buyers probably won’t miss it. They will enjoy the Keyless Access with Push Button Start, auto climate control, and a swanky gloss black instrument panel trim. There’s also STARLINK – Subaru’s excellent info-tainment system teamed with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For those that miss the old hatchback, the adult-sized rear seats fold down to increase the already spacious trunk – making this a very livable day-to-day driver.
Series. White Performance – WRX Perfection
With the subtle changes, we didn’t expect a very different experience. And we were wrong! First of all, our tester was a 6-speed manual, and for our money, the only way to go. The available CVT really doesn’t do the WRX justice – it was fine in the 2020 Legacy we recently tested, mostly because that’s a nice sedan with sporty overtones, but a WRX is held at a much higher standard.
And does it meet it! Under the hood is the 2.0-liter, turbocharged flat “Boxer” four-cylinder engine pumping out a very respectable 268 horsepower, and 258 lb.-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm. And for no reason we can see, this is the best running WRX we have ever driven. In previous models, there was very much a “light switch” power delivery – you were either off the pipe, or full-out, but nowhere in between. This one was smooth and linear, and plenty powerful, but the ability to just dial in the right amount of turbo-oomph raised its game a huge amount.
And we like turbo oomph. It’s a lovely sounding engine, throaty and deep that gets a nice snarl as you lean on it. It also pushes you back in the seat hard, and the light clutch, combined with a notchy and direct 6-speed manual makes rowing up and down the gears a joy. It’s quick too…you easily find yourself chasing down much more expensive European brands. Subaru, coming through!
Part of that strong acceleration comes from Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, that made it devastating in Pro Rally, and serves up amazing traction when you want, where you want. It also smooths out the steering, especially compared to high performance front wheel drive vehicles – it’s a big job for the front wheels to try and delve out power while also turning.
And we think the specially-tuned Bilstein Sport Suspension makes the Series. White stand out. It is no doubt firm, but it is beautifully controlled – there’s almost no lean in turns, it responds immediately to the steering wheel, and combined with the AWD, it has an amazing ability to carry speed through the turns – you barely feel like you have to slow down. And with that amazing grip, you can get on the power sooner, and rocket out of corners. It’s addictive and it’s great fun.
This much capability requires great stopping, and the WRX features superb Brembo braking – they pull you down hard,they don’t fade, and they offer excellent feel, giving you the kind of precise control you need when running hard.
And that’s the big change in this WRX. The feeling of precision, refinement, control. Where we used to feel that the WRX was a rocket that challenged the big European names, you kind of felt that the lower price meant a lack of manners and breeding. No longer – our Series. White was a superb driver’s car.
How Much Green to buy the Series. White?
Subaru probably could ask a whole lot more for this car. But they don’t. It starts out as a WRX Premium at $29,975. Adding the Series. White package is $4,200. We also had Body Side Moldings at $268, and a bumper Applique for $96. Add in $900 for Destination, and we totaled in at $35,258.
With its new-found Euro precision, competitors would include the all-wheel drive VW Golf R which comparably would be $41,525. A new competitor that looks really exciting is the AWD BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe. With 301 hp, it should be a rocket ship. But we priced one out at $45,500. 10 grand is a massive step up.
So, we come away massively impressed with the 2020 Subaru WRX Series. White. Powerful, handsome, and perfectly-tuned.
It’s not only the best WRX we’ve ever driven, it’s a bargain, too.
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.