Here’s a Quick Ode to the WRX Hatchback, The First AWD Car I Ever Drove

This was the last of an iconic Subaru era.

There was a lot to like about this now-ten-year-old Subaru WRX.

Car: 2011 Subaru WRX
Location: Malibu, CA, November 2016
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 5D MkII + EF 50mm 1.8

The GR WRX hatchback was an excellent car. 0-60 in under five seconds thanks to its turbocharged, EJ25 2.5-liter flat four, and all the grip in the world. I first experienced this firsthand back in December 2016, and it was truly a game-changer for me.

This photo was taken when my buddy let me drive his for a review on Opposite Lock (RIP) on Jalopnik, a few years before I started getting paid money to do car blogs. It was a way to self-assign and get my words out there, to get practice, criticism, and just eyes on my stuff. We went playing around on Malibu canyon roads, savoring its corner-exit acceleration and sure-footed, AWD launches.

I had actually never driven an AWD car before, only ridden right-seat on track and on an autocross course. The sensation of having so much grip was massive; drive it like a FWD car, except have a ton more grip at your disposal. The first hundred yards of turning up the heat a tad on Piuma Road, a famously tight and bumpy stretch of road up in Malibu, was quite an enlightening moment.

Now as I write this, I’ve driven all kinds of AWD, RWD, and FWD cars, and have thoroughly figured out each configuration’s strengths. Though I still look back fondly on the first time I got to rip through a fun road with grip-rich AWD, and it makes me want to rekindle the sensation somehow.

Peter Nelson

Peter NelsonPeter Nelson has been wrenching on and playing with cars since he started driving them quickly between the cones at Chicagoland autocross events in his late teens. Nowadays, he can be found wringing out his Mazda2 at tracks all over California. His writing background includes Winding Road, Donut Media, and Autolist.com. He's also an avid cyclist and '80s/'90s action film connoisseur. Contact the author here.