Updated with pricing details

The 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX has had its internals and exterior tinkered with resulting in a performance upgrade from its predecessor. A 265hp (198kW) turbocharged intercooled boxer engine provides the grunt, while a retuned suspension system and wider, lower-profile summer performance tires improve the handling and ride. Despite the higher specification and model re-shuffle, pricing stays very close to the 2008 models, rising about $500 on average.

The engine is fitted with a larger turbocharger than the 2008 model, leading to increased boost. Coupled with a low-density catalyst for reduced exhaust backpressure, the WRX engine now produces 41hp (31kW) more than its predecessor and increases torque by 20lb-ft (27Nm), up to 244lb-ft (330Nm).

The suspension has been improved by increasing spring rates and adding thicker stabilizer bars, and the summer tires are a departure from the all-season tires that used to adorn the WRX. The 2009 Impreza WRX also gets a 5-speed manual transmission, AWD, and an 'Incline Start Assistant' that stops the car rolling back when taking off.

The Impreza WRX moves closer to the high-performance STI, picking up the same grille, integrated front spoiler, body-side moldings and gunmetal gray alloy wheels. The WRX interior for 2009 gains new WRX-exclusive carbon black upholstery, accented by red stitching. A standard tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel is accented by red stitching, and standard aluminum-alloy pedal covers now include the driver's footrest.

The optional ‘Premium Package’ gains a power moonroof for 2009; other contents carry over, including the 10-speaker audio upgrade with auxiliary input jack, projector-beam fog lights, dual-mode heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. A navigation system with video jack inputs is also available.

A new GT model has been added to the lineup as well. The car features a 224hp (167kW) version of the 2.5L turbocharged boxer engine and comes standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Both the 2009 GT and WRX also feature larger front brakes than the outgoing model.

Pricing starts at $17,495 for the entry-level Impreza 2.5i four-door which adds stability control as a standard feature for 2009. The 2.5i five-door starts at $17,995 with a manual transmission. Moving up to the WRX, the new manual-only base model starts at $24,995 for the four-door and $25,595 for the five-door. The new GT models start at $$26,995 for the four-door, inclusive of the Premium equipment package, with the five-door starting at $27,495. Pricing for the popular Outback Sport models remains unchanged starting at $19,995 as does pricing for the Impreza WRX STI model starting at $34,995. A destination charge of $665 applies in all of the lower 48 states.

Subaru is also planning to introduce a lighter and more powerful version of the WRX STI called the Spec C. The car was recently spotted testing at the Nurburgring in prototype form and is expected to be launched towards the end of the year initially in Japan.