And while it rolled out an all-new sporty Impreza WRX and high-performance STI for 2008, it gave the WRX a host of mechanical upgrades for 2009, with a few more tweaks last year. Now, for 2011, both of these rally-themed models get a more aggressive look, but it's the top STI that gets the most performance innovation this time.
First, the look: Line both of these models up side by side and they're closer than ever in appearance. Together, both of these models get a number of changes—most of which are now shared between the WRX and the STI. The new wide-body look brings a new grille, a new 17-inch alloy wheel design with wider tires, and a WRX spoiler for the sedan. Up in front, the lower air intake is wider and lower, the lip spoiler is resculpted, and blacked-out foglamp bezels further help the wide, low look. In back, both models get a more aggressive lower-body look with quad-tip exhausts, and of course alongside the front and rear fenders now bulge outward, giving the car more voluptuousness. Inside, the appearance is familiar, but there are new instrument clusters, a new audio system, and darker, more understated trim.
Both models remain offered in four-door sedan or five-door hatch bodystyles. But arguably, contrary to what we suspected in pictures, it's the sedan that benefits the most from the new wide-fendered look. From rear three-quarter angles in person, where the sedan has looked a bit dowdy and awkward since its redesign, the flared sheetmetal makes the whole design pop. The sedan also gets a more aggressive spoiler configuration that helps improve aerodynamics and raise top speed (to 158 mph for the STI). In our opinion, the hatch was already the better of the two bodystyles, and it also benefits a bit from the new look.
The styling of Subaru's cars has always been very distinct, and the exterior of the 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX and STI is just as polarizing as anything else in Subaru's past. However, TheCarConnection.com's research shows that the interior of the Subaru Impreza WRX and STI, which was redesigned in 2008, is loved by most.
The 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX is available in either sedan or hatchback body styles, while the high-performance Subaru Impreza WRX STI comes exclusively as a hatchback. Reviews of the sedan are average, as Edmunds finds, reporting that "from the rear doors back, the styling screams econobox, with homely taillights" and a wealth of uninspiring trim elements. The hatchback, on the other hand, is a different story; Jalopnik's testers say that the STI model "isn't what you'd call traditionally handsome," but they praise its "air of purposeful muscularity," which is enhanced by the "wildly flared arches, huge hood scoop and restrained rear wing." In a nod to the unorthodox design, Car and Driver notes that the Subaru Impreza WRX and STI feature "love-it-or-hate-it styling." Jalopnik, meanwhile, laments that "the controversial looks will keep it from mass-market acceptance." The 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX and STI feature one tiny styling change for the latest model year: the addition of a newly designed side sill.
Step inside the 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX or STI and you'll be forgiven for thinking it was designed by a completely different company. It's a huge improvement over the rather Spartan interior that characterized previous versions of the Impreza. Jalopnik describes the "swoopy and odd" interior as "positively refreshing," while Edmunds raves that the "legible gauges remained so in practically any lighting situation, with a simple layout centering the large tachometer prominently behind the steering wheel." For buyers eyeing the 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX equipped with the optional navigation system, ConsumerGuide notes that "the navigation system itself is easy to negotiate," something rare in this segment.