For a performance car whose main appeal and success has come from the younger (and for some reason backward baseball cap wearing) segment of the buying public, the 2012 Subaru WRX hatchback has what amounts to one of the most pitiful standard audio systems we have experienced in a car at this price. At even moderate volumes the sound inevitably dissolves into enough obnoxious buzzing that you may become convinced that a swarm of bees has taken up residence in the door panels.
Either Subaru needs to redesign their standard 6-speaker audio system (with USB/iPod integration, CD and XM, Sirius pre-wiring) or savvy buyers will need to fork out the extra cash for the upgraded 10-speaker premium unit that comes with the optional in-dash navigation system (a $2,000 option). It is available with every WRX model barring the base version so it will push your out the door price very close to $30,000 mark but seriously, AC/Delco GM radios in the 1970’s radios were about as fun to listen to as the base WRX’s stereo system.
Now, we apologize for just bringing up the 2012 Subaru WRX’s one real Achilles Heel (besides the fact that it did not move over the new platform introduced with the mainstream 2012 Impreza that just launched), but you can always just decide to simply evel in the glorious warble that the 2.5 liter 265 horsepower horizontally opposed “boxer” 4-cylinder turbo emits as you approach the reverberating thrum of redline.
But to our way of thinking, driving a serious hot hatch like this requires driving music to go along with that perfect stretch of tarmac. Other options like leather upholstery in the top of the line Limited model can wait for when you get a junior executive cubicle but with the 2012 Subaru WRX we feel there needs to be a sound system as capable as this car’s very unique engine and proven all-wheel drive system.
Now, everyone knows Subaru has built a reputation for its all-weather capability but did you know that they are the only mainstream car company besides Porsche which still builds engines with cylinders that are “horizontally opposed?” No, they don’t belong to opposing political parties which means the pistons in the cylinders would appear to be punching at each other like boxing gloves when looked at from above.
Hence this is also one of the reasons that this engine also has been known as a “Boxer” engine but part of that could also stem from the throatily macho thrum these motors tend to make. The main benefit of this engine design is the fact that they are not as tall as other motors and can thereby be mounted lower in the engine compartment thereby improving handling. But a lower center of gravity and the laws of physics are only part of what makes Subaru models like the WRX so fun to drive. Have we mentioned the turbo yet? If not, we will.