Four-cylinder turbocharged engines are everywhere, and it’s getting hard to tell them apart, right?
We hear that a lot, but not in regard to Subaru’s 2.0L “FA” 4-cyl. boxer, which rallies for a second straight Wards 10 Best Engines win in the WRX.
Making 134 hp/L with direct injection and twin-scroll turbocharging, the FA satiates every wanton desire to push the limits on the handling track on Saturday afternoon, then dial it back for a leisurely ride through the country with the significant other on Sunday.
Let’s step back a year, when the FA turbo did its heavy lifting by vanquishing most of its forced-induction rivals in the 2015 competition.
At that time, there were 15 4-cyl., turbos, and the Subaru powerplant rose to the fore with neck-snapping gratification, zero turbo lag, surprisingly good fuel economy and a torque curve as flat as the Midwest, with a broad peak that extends all the way from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm.
The competition was leaner this year, with only eight 4-cyl. turbos, which allowed the 2.0L WRX to cruise into the winners’ circle.
On their scoresheets this year, WardsAuto editors praise the FA for its “tremendous output,” “lots of boost” (15.9 psi) and for absolutely completing the package of a reasonably priced sports car ($28,895 in Premium trim) with a motorsports heritage.
“There’s a little rumble and shake, as appropriate,” writes editor Dave Zoia. “The exhaust note is a matter of taste – more F1 than Detroit muscle.” That sound comes from a tweaked exhaust system that eliminates one chamber in the muffler and shortens the internal tubing.
Adds editor Jim Irwin: “Fast, fun, a not-impractical daily driver. As good a turbo-4 as any out there, especially with 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) highway.”
In total, we racked up 624 miles (1,004 km) during our 10-day test drive.
Even those of us who didn’t spend much time on the turnpike easily topped 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km), and some managed to see 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) on the trip computer.
A detuned version of this engine also is used in the Subaru Forester, but the WRX’s all-aluminum FA gets unique camshafts, valves, rocker arms, cam sprockets and electronic controller, as well as valve springs re-engineered for higher revving.
With the arrival of high-efficiency hybrids, plug-ins and EVs upon us, there’s something comforting and nostalgic in an engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission that needs a giant hood scoop to pull in enough air to let the intercooler do its job.
That’s kickin’ it old-school.