2024 Subaru WRX TR Road test review by Ben Lewis

When it comes to the Subaru WRX, we’re big fans. While the automaker brings in the big bucks with popular crossovers like the Outback and Forester, with the ‘Rex, they stay true to the enthusiasts as well.

And while the WRX has always been great fun out of the box, it’s also been a hugely popular starting point for those who love to modify their vehicles. In fact, in 2006, Subie created a WRX TR model. “TR” stood for “Tuner Ready”, and they took out some of the heavy, expensive stuff like the audio system to create a lighter, less pricey model for the tuners to build on.

So now we have a new 2024 WRX TR, and it’s different, since instead of deleting pricey parts, they’ve added some authentic performance goodies to make it one of the most intriguing WRX models ever offered.

Truly Racy

The ready-to-rally look continues for the 2024 year, with little change. The front is especially aggressive, with a prominent hood scoop that slants down to Subaru’s signature hexagonal grille. We love the frowny LED headlamps with U-shaped driving lights, and projector beam fogs poking out of the lower grille.  

The profile keeps up the sporty theme, with blacked-out overfenders which not only look tough but feature aerodynamic cut-outs on the trailing edge to help airflow and reduce lift. And they really accentuate the bulgy muscular fender flares! Those who like the details will be happy to know that the front fenders are made of aluminum to keep weight down.

Two things really give the TR an imposing side view. First, the unique 19-inch alloy wheels (other WRX’s roll 18’s) are bigger, bolder, and wear some impressive Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires. They really fill out the wheelwells and give an impressive, roadworthy look. Adding to that, behind those gorgeous alloys are bright red calipers, courtesy of a high performance Brembo braking system. Nice!

The lovefest for performance continues around the back, with stylish “volcanic magma” LED taillights, a sporty ducktail rear spoiler, and dual twin exhaust pipes poking out of the prominent lower rear bumper. The finishing touch on our tester was the WR Blue Pearl paint, a color with a racing pedigree, but with a choice of 8 colors, you’re sure to find one that suits your vibe.

Tasty Recaro’s

Inside, the first thing that greets you are gorgeous Recaro front seats. While you could get these seats previously on the GT model, that trim was only available with an automatic transmission. So, the TR offers Recaro goodness for the first time with a stick.

That’s important because these are the best driver’s seat on the market, in our opinion. Recaro knows how to make seats that have outstanding support, long-distance comfort, and still hold you in place in aggressive driving. If that isn’t enough, you also get black and gray Ultrasuede, power adjustments for the driver, and they’re even heated.  

The rest is familiar Subaru and WRX, which means tough wearing materials, logical layouts, and plenty of space. Settle into that Recaro seat and a flat-bottomed, fat leather wrapped wheel feels great, and the shifter for the 6-speed manual falls right at hand.

While many competitors are throwing digital gauges at you, the WRX stays traditional with a large analog 8,000 rpm tach, and 180 mph (!) speedo. We love the little “sweep” startup display as both needles wrap around as you start the engine. OK, we’re easily amused! There’s also a useful digital driver display in between, and we found ourselves gravitating towards the turbo boost display, which goes up to a dizzying 30 psi.

Standard Subaru fare now is a large tablet-style screen in the center console, and on the TR that’s an11.6-inch display, with STARLINK multimedia navigation, and all the goodies like wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, Bluetooth and more. We also loved the 11-speaker Harmon Kardon Audio system, especially since Subaru still provides knobs for volume and tuning. Yay!

On the lower part of the display are dedicated climate control settings – we appreciate that you don’t have to go fishing around a number of screens just to get comfortable.

While the emphasis is on performance, the WRX proves to be a very livable real-world sedan. There’s plenty of space – the TR is not available with a moonroof, which will make taller drivers happy – and the rear seats are spacious for adults as well. The trunk is also huge, and the rear seats fold nice and flat to give an impressive cargo hold. Yes, it is a sedan and not a hatchback, but the trunk opening is a good size, so you should be able to get good use of it.

True Rally

Driving the TR is a thrill. While there used to be a high-performance STi trim, that went away in 2022, so now the TR steps in to be the pointiest end of the WRX stick.

Power is the same as other WRX’s, with a punchy 2.4-liter, turbo “boxer” engine, pumping out an impressive 271 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque. This is a great engine with a big brassy exhaust note when cold that mellows out as it warms up. It also pulls hard to the 6,000 rpm redline, and it comes up to that redline quick. Thankfully, the 6-speed manual is happy to play, and the clutch is nice and light. You always feel like there’s plenty of power on tap!

Helping put all that power down is Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD, that not only gives loads of grip in the slick stuff, but with torque vectoring, it really helps you blast into turns and come powering out.  

And while the above is true for any WRX, the TR ups the ante. Those larger 19-inch tires give you extra grip, and a slightly-lowered suspension firms up the ride and reduces any body lean. We’re glad the TR has those supportive seats, with those stiffer springs and revised damping rates, you can notch up some serious handling here – but there is a price in the ride quality – it’s very firm.

We could live with the ride quality though, just to enjoy the Brembo braking system – it’s phenomenal.  With 6-piston front calipers, 2-piston rear calipers, larger pads, rotors, and an upgraded brake master cylinder, these binders haul you down with serious intent, show little fade, and give a delicious amount of feedback through the brake pedal. There’s a reason why Brembo is a famous name in brakes, and it’s all right here!

While you’d probably opt for the TR just for the performance goodies, Subaru knows it’s going to probably be a family car, too. For 2024, it’s an even better choice, as Subaru is now offering their EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite on manual-transmission WRX models for the first time.

Time to oRder?    

While the TR is not the stripped-down model it was back in 2006, it’s still an impressive value. The WRX lineup starts with the base model at $32,735.  For a powerful, turbocharged, rally-bred performance sedan, that’s incredible value. The TR is a bit of specialist model, and will set you back $41,655.  With no options, and $1,120 for Destination, we rang the bell at $42,775.

 
Competitors include some interesting choices, and would include the superb Honda Civic Type R, at $45,980.  The gloriously wacky Toyota Corolla GR comes in at $39,659. So, the TR is in the middle ground of some fantastic high-performance vehicles you can enjoy every day. Drive them all and choose the one that suits your kind of crazy!

Boasting some sweet high-performance goodies, the 2024 Subaru WRX TR takes the already thrilling rally-bred sedan to new levels!

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.

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