July 21, 2024
Reviews

Limited vs. TR: The 2024 Subaru WRX Stickshift Showdown

Over the past decade, there has been a decline in the availability of affordable fun cars. When a mainstream manufacturer announces an expansion of its performance models, such as the introduction of a new trim like the 2024 Subaru WRX TR, it grabs our attention.

Subaru seems to be reevaluating the positioning of the WRX in the shrinking market of sport compacts. With no halo model above its rally-inspired sedan, there is room for the company’s performance division to explore. From this space, Subaru introduced the “Tuner Ready” WRX. What sets it apart from the standard WRX?

STI

Subaru has moved away from producing STIs, much to the relief of reproductive health advocates. The TR, on the other hand, does not include the upgraded AWD system and increased power that were key features of the STI. The TR retains the base car’s 271-horsepower tune and weighs around 3,400 pounds. It also excludes the sunroof which can be seen as a benefit for taller drivers needing helmet room.

The TR comes with various chassis upgrades focused on enhancing the track-day experience. It features Brembo brakes, a modified steering rack, and improved suspension to reduce body motions and enhance steering response without compromising ride quality. The TR also includes Recaro seats, which are only available in a WRX with a manual transmission in 2024. The alternative is the CVT-only GT model.

For a limited time only

Shortly after the TR was returned to Subaru, it was announced that the trim would be discontinued for 2025, to be replaced by the tS model. The tS will offer similar upgrades to the TR but with the addition of the GT’s adaptive suspension and integrated drive modes, at a higher cost. This makes the TR a one-year model, prompting the question of whether it is worth the investment or merely a placeholder for something more special.

Senior Editor John Beltz Snyder and Associate Editor Byron Hurd conducted a thorough comparison between the 2023 Subaru WRX Limited and the 2024 Subaru WRX TR. The test included various driving environments to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the two models.

Before diving into the details, it is important to note that the WRX TR loaned for the test was a 2024 model, while the WRX Limited in the long-term fleet was a 2023 model. However, for the purposes of comparison, the evaluation is based on what it would cost to purchase the same model in 2024. The EyeSight driver assistance technology pack was excluded from the comparison as it is standard on all 2024 WRXs regardless of transmission.

The scores are based on a 500-point total, with critical categories such as Acceleration, Braking, Handling, Steering, Ride, Gearbox, Front Seat Comfort and Driving Position, Value, and Fun to Drive given double weight. This level of granularity was necessary to differentiate between the two models.

Second place: 2023 Subaru WRX Limited – 348 points

Compared to the TR, the standard WRX highlights its shortcomings. It is noisier and lacks the exciting exhaust note found in the TR. The WRX’s short gearing and limited sound deadening contribute to a noisy cabin, impacting the overall driving experience. However, the WRX’s communicative nature ensures that the driver is always aware of the car’s behavior, even though its limits are lower than the TR.

Despite its flaws, the WRX offers a fun driving experience and remains a compelling option in the affordable performance car segment. Its value proposition is particularly strong, making it a competitive choice in its price range.

First place: 2024 Subaru WRX TR – 351 points

The WRX TR offers a refined driving experience with enhancements in suspension, brakes, seats, and tires. Despite expectations of a louder and rougher ride, the TR surprises with a smoother and more composed performance. The Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires provide exceptional grip and refinement, elevating the TR’s overall performance.

With subtle improvements in handling and grip, the TR outshines the standard WRX in various aspects. The only trade-off is in communication, where the TR provides less feedback but delivers a more refined driving experience.

Ultimately, the TR impresses with its overall enhancements, making it a superior choice to the standard WRX in almost every aspect. While price may be a consideration, the performance and driving experience of the TR justify the investment.

Overall, the 2024 Subaru WRX TR emerges as the preferred choice between the two models, offering a refined driving experience and superior performance. While the standard WRX has its merits, the enhancements in the TR elevate it to a higher level of driving satisfaction and enjoyment. For enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating driving experience, the WRX TR proves to be a compelling option.

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