Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Subaru Impreza WRX 2.0 Automatic

Subaru's finally done it. They finally have an automatic turbo WRX in Singapore.

As I've always said... if you want a fast automatic, you have to make it a turbo. Unless of course you want a large capacity engine starting from a minimum of 3.0 to be even slightly 'fast'.

Mitsubishi has always acknowledged the fact that expanding the lineup with automatic versions of their performance turbo cars will increase sales volumes by capturing the part of the market that likes to drive powerful cars in traffic jams. That's why they always had automatic versions of their Lancer GSR 1.8 turbos and Galant VR4s. And they even came up with an auto version of their Evolution VII ie. GTA.

Subaru has so far resisted automating the transmission for it's most potent model. There are auto Legacies and Forresters, but no auto WRX.... well, not in Singapore nor Malaysia anyway.

Here is a 250hp, 333NM WRX 2.0 turbo. Funny how they made this car the most powerful non-STi WRX ever, with a crank 250hp. The previous generation WRX 2.0 was only 220hp. Even the current WRX 2.5 has only 230hp. Mitsubishi's full blown Evolution VII GTA comes out of the box with a 260hp engine.

However, there is a considerable downside. All this power on tap and they decide to mate it to a 4 speed autobox. I drove a 260hp Mitsubishi 1.8litre 4G93 turbo with a 4 speed automatic for almost 5 years. 3rd gear is always the unitary gear with a 1.0 ratio. 4th gear is then necessarily a large jump from 3rd (typically around 0.75). 4th gear is always a difficult balance. If it's too low, then the car loses torque and tractability. Too high, and engine rpms will be too high during high speed cruising (negatively impacting engine refinement and fuel consumption). Having an extra gear (4th) between the ratios of 1.0 (3rd) and 0.75 (or even lower in 5th) solves this by balancing the 2 conflicting extremes of good torque spread and low revs.

I wonder why they didn't use an existing 5 speed autobox from the Legacies or Forresters.

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