2020 Subaru WRX Series.White: A die-hard collector car
There's a good reason why Subaru is only selling a limited number of Series.White versions of the 2020 WRX and WRX STI. Only the most die-hard Subaru fans are likely willing to spend thousands more for higher performance versions of the cars that redefined performance compacts in the first place.
But if you're one of them, you won't be disappointed with either. Aside from their rarity — just 500 of each will be produced — both are seriously modified with factory performance parts that increase handling and braking. That is in addition to unique ceramic white paint, special matt bronze aluminum wheels and standard Recaro seats.
In fact, some potential buyers might think the suspension is too firm for day-to-day driving, compared to the stock WRX, which is already one of the greatest affordable sport-oriented cars on the planet. But at least that means the Series.White version is not just an overpriced trim package.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter flat four engine in all versions of the WRX produces 268 horsepower, which is more than enough for serious high-speed driving. The biggest upgrade is a high-performance Bilstein sport-tuned suspension and bigger Brembo brakes with red calipers. Additional standard equipment includes LED Steering Responsive Headlights, LED fog lights, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start, Crystal Black Silica foldable exterior mirrors and side badging and new matte black rear badging.
The WRX Series.White is priced at $34,895, which is about $7,000 more than an entry-level WRX. Like I said, it is being made for die-hard fans.
The same with the Series.White WRX STI, which is priced at $42,695, not including a $900 Destination and Delivery charge — also about $7,000 the base model. It includes the more powerful 310-horsepower 2.5-liter engine, of course, along with an equally impressive series of performance upgrades, such as an even stiffer a Bilstein STI sport-tuned suspension, heavy-duty steering rack mounts that provide increased rigidity between the steering rack and vehicle body, Monoblock Brembo brake calipers (6-piston front, 2-piston rear), and more.
The Series.White versions of both models are only available with a six-speed manual transmission, which is almost unheard of these days.
I only tested the Series.White WRX, but can say it has a totally different character than any other WRX that I've ever driven. The engine was as strong as always, requiring some practice to drive smoothly with the manual transmission. But the ride was much stiffer, far more like the more track-ready WRX STI. Some potential owners might think it is too stiff for daily driving, especially on the poorly maintained roads in my home town of Portland, Oregon. But it works great on smooth, windy roads and freeways, where passing is never a problem.
I've owned a number of Subaru's over the years, beginning with one of its first 1970's subcompact DL/GL wagons with four-wheel-drive. I was living in Southern Oregon at the time and it was revolutionary. It drove like a mountain goat in the rugged hills, easily able to follow narrow trails where larger 4WD vehicles might get stuck between trees and rocks. The downside was freeway driving, however. Because of the lower gearing, it topped out at 60 miles per hour in fourth gear when the legal limit was 70.
I tested one of Subaru's earliest turbos, the wacky 1980s XT Coupe. It had aggressively angular styling, an asymmetrical steering wheel, a digital dash, wild upholstery patterns and too much power for its own good. It could not compete against the emerging hot hatches like the VW Rabbit GTI, however.
But then Subaru blew them away with the WRX and WRX STI models in the 1990s by combining powerful turbo engines with its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system. The result was even more revolutionary than the original 4WD wagon — and a lot more fun. The competition struggled to keep up, and most of them are gone now. With Ford dropping the Focus RS, only the VW Golf R currently offers a turbo engine and AWD in a new affordable compact car.
As an auto writer, I've witnessed Subrau's transition from a cult following to a mainstream manufacturer. The boxer engines and standard AWD system have remained constants, but the styling, engineering and quality have greatly improved over the years. The newest models are finally as refined those produced by all the other Japanese affordable car builders.
In truth, the current WRX and WRX STI are built on an aging platform that will reportedly be replaced in 2022. Although details are scare, the next models are rumored to be larger, more stylish and more powerful. That's probably another reason for the White.Series models — to generate a little more buzz before the switch.
2020 Subaru WRX Series.White
Base price: $34,895
Price as tested: $35,295
Type: Compact sedan
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (268 hp, 258 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed manual
EPA estimated mileage: 21/27
Overall length: 180.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,341 pounds
Final assembly: Gunma, Japan
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