2019 Subaru WRX essentials: Jumpy plaything

Our Opinion: Credit Subaru for having a direction and sticking with it. Though the WRX has had multiple platforms and engines since its 2002 introduction in the U.S., the car’s essential formula has not changed. Its competitors certainly have, though: Both the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and the Ford Focus RS have come and gone, and the Volkswagen Golf R starts at 40, yes 40, grand. Now, as it was in 2002, nothing directly compares with the WRX. You either need to spend more money, forgo all-wheel drive or deal with less engine. The WRX’s horsepower is good; its staying power is phenomenal.Inside, the WRX’s creature comforts keep up with our modern world. Really, if you have Bluetooth, and/or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, you’re fine. Well, that and a heater. The seats keep a sporting vibe with large lower and upper bolsters to hold the body snugly in place when taking a spirited drive. And logical ergonomics give you easy access to all controls and cupholders all while keeping your focus on the road ahead.More importantly, it’s fun. The WRX entertains and feels engaging, even when the travel of the moment is mundane. If anything, the WRX is a little too anxious for fun. By that I mean throttle tip-in is quite aggressive, making it easy to come across as boyracer to traffic when leaving the stop light. To exacerbate things, clutch engagement is on the high side too. On the plus side, the power keeps coming — turbo lag is largely a thing of the past with this engine. The first-generation U.S. model took a five-count to get moving after burying the throttle at low rpm. Now, in the vast majority of scenarios, your wait time for boost is well under a second.The WRX looks just grown-up enough to get away with being an adult with a job and responsibilities yet maintaining a more youthful spirit. Like having a tattoo that peeks out of the arm of your button-up shirt, the WRX says there’s a little more here than what you see at the surface. That’s the true brilliance of this little Subie: It’s adult enough to get through the day yet a worthy companion for any good driving opportunities that present themselves.–Robin Warner, managing editor