“That was terrible.” Those words stung. Not so much because my first autocross run in a Jaguar XE was bad, but because they were uttered by one of Jaguar’s pro drivers. He then explained I was entering corners way too fast, losing grip, and scrubbing off speed.
On the second run, I corrected. It earned me: “That was better.”
So what does a Jag XE have to do with autocrossing our long term 2017 Subaru WRX? Well, we applied a few lessons from that day and beat two 911 Carrera 4 drivers last weekend. The 911 C4S we didn’t beat was only 2 tenths faster through the cones.
Our Subie was not an STI. Rather, a regular ‘ol 2 liter, 4-cylinder, 268 hp, 258 lb-ft boxer engine with…
…wait for it…
While I’d love to claim driver laurels for the performance, much credit belonged to the car. We learned a lot of things about our transmissionally challenged WRX on those runs. Here are the top five.
#1 Nothing happened until the turbo kicked in.
Mashing the pedal on “GO!” yielded acceleration akin to creeping up at a stop sign. As the turbo spooled, boost built, and the car came alive! The gap between “mash” and “alive” was an eternity – like “already entering the first turn” eternity. The CVT didn’t help, emitting the wail of a slipping transmission until “virtual second gear” locked in.
Post “launch drama”, the run went pretty well.
#2 Sport Sharp is a dumb name for sport plus.
While Sport # just sounds stupid to say, the Sport Lineartronic CVT with eight virtual Sport # gears is definitely NOT stupid. It might just be the best CVT system on the market. The Variable Torque Distribution architecture uses a planetary gear type center differential and electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to manage torque distribution. Steering, yaw, and g-force sensors help dictate where power is put down. It’s fantastic. I rarely had to brake, just modulate the throttle. As wheels lost grip, the system compensated, resulting in faster corner exits.
#3 The stock Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires were really good.
The Sport Maxx RT is Dunlop’s ultra high performance Summer tire. Developed for track applications, large outer blocks help with cornering and stability. An adaptive tread compound increases grip and decreases braking distance. In real use on mixed asphalt conditions, the tires impressed.
#4 The seat needs a height adjustment button.
At 6’2”, I’m tall for the seat. I have to recline to fit. Adding a helmet felt like I was wedged between the seat cushion and the roof.
My helmet banged the sunroof lip constantly. I could barely turn my head. Please Subaru, let us lower the seat an inch!
#5 We’d take a WRX CVT over a BMW 320i xDrive any day.
You decide: BMW @ $45K and 0-60 in 7.1 seconds or WRX Limited @ $38K and 0-60 in 5.9 seconds.
The Subaru may not have the best transmission or the nameplate, but it’s got everything else.