The GX is the 2 litre normally aspirated model in the Impreza range and is available in both 4 and 5 door. Whilst my P1 was having a problem diagnosed and rectified I was able to borrow a 5 door GX from my dealer Quenbys over a 4 day period.
A few weeks before driving the GX I had driven the 1.6 litre TS and I was expecting more of the same (especially when I had just jumped out of a 270 odd bhp P1). The same immediate thoughts where there, the New Age look which seems to be exagerated in the 5 door model without the extended wheel arches. The GX does improve on some things with a better specification of 15 inch alloys and wider tires, plus fog lights shared with the WRX turbo model.
Inside there is not much different to the TS, the in car entertainment is still only a single CD/tuner. One thing I was not a fan of was the inclusion of three head rests on the back seat which made rear visibility a nightmare. The front seats are again similar and quite suppportive but are not in the bucket set league. Down beside the handbrake was the same Hi-Low ratio gear lever found in all of the 5 door normally aspirated models.
Turning the key we hear the New Age start which unfortunately reminds me of a diesel starting up (London taxi anyone?). Again the clutch is a lot lighter than the previos Impreza, as is the steering also. The first time you apply the brakes you also get a shock as the improved servo means that you have to be quite careful. It would be interesting driving on ice or snow. They are similar in feel to the WRX rather than the "progressive" TS.
The ride is certainly improved over the TS but is not (unsurprisingly) as good as the WRX with its 17inch wheels and probably harder suspension. The 15in alloys and 195/55 tires do quite a good job, but the suspension allows too much leaning through the corners to allow much fun unfortunately. At least with this set up I did not get the feeling of sea sickness which had been aparent in the TS when I first drove it! For a 5 door the quietness of the cabin is remarkable and it is much quieter than the 5 door TS.
Performance wasn't not too bad for a 2 litre, remember I'm coming form a P1. I did though find it more relaxing to change up before 5000rpm and watch the scenery go by rather than rush everywhere, with little point it taking it to the red line. As with the WRX the engine is very quiet and almost electric. It is very easy to drive around town and by the time I was ready to give it back I was getting to enjoy myself.
The Hi-Low gear lever down by the handbrake was much more fun though in the GX than it had been in the TS. With more power to play with it was fun to indulge yourself. The difference being that for the same speed and gear the engine was revving roughly 1000rpm higher.
Finally I have to say that after 3 days of running the GX it did come as a shock to drive my P1. Everything that I said in the first few paragraphs came home to me in a sort of opposite sence. In comparison to the GX the P1 felt very heavy on the steering (are the tires flat?), and the clutch needed thigh muscles I did not know I had. Also the right leg got a work out due to the need to really push to get the brakes working (and I have the Alcon upgrades too!). The ride was a lot firmer with every rut and pot hole making itself known. Although I have already mentioned that the GX 5 door was commendable for a wagon/estate car it came as a surprise that the P1 was actually a lot noisier inside! See the P1 reviews in the IWOC classic posts section for my thoughts on the P1 after a few days in the GX.
The GX is actually quite a nice car once you get to know it. If something could be done about the way it leans around the bends then it would be really good. Perhaps there is room for a Sport edition with 17 inch wheels and harder suspension? The styling was unfortunately summed up by a work collegue who said "It doesn't matter what angle you look at that car, it is damn ugly no matter which way you look...and the colour is awful too." Shame really.
Onto the WRX and STi Japanese specification vehicles.
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