The Subaru Impreza WRX might be having the longest runout in the history of motoring.
As you might know, when the latest Impreza was launched earlier this year, there were no hot turbocharged versions to top the range. That's because things are changing for the Rex: with the demise of Subaru's top-level World Rally Championship (WRC) efforts, the focus has shifted away from the top Impreza being a rally car for the road.
Yes, there will be a new WRX. But it won't be a heated-up version of the standard car. It won't even be called an Impreza. It'll be a separate model line, with unique styling, which will attempt to establish 'WRX' as a standalone sporting brand. But don't expect to see it this side of 2013.
In the meantime, the current Impreza WRX continues and Subaru New Zealand is doing its best to keep interest alive with a few special editions. That's presumably keeping interest alive in terms of image and a view to selling more of the standard WRXs, because there are only seven examples of this Ace of Spades limited-edition available.
It asks a $4000 premium over the regular WRX, at $49,990. Probably a case of form an orderly queue… and then go home, because they're all sold.
It might annoy you to learn that the AoS (as I shall now rather awkwardly call it) is a cracker. Subaru New Zealand says it bridges the gap between the Impreza WRX and STI and does so with eight percent more power (courtesy of a locally developed turbo tweak) and front suspension components (springs, strut brace) lifted straight from the full-house $63,490 STI.
With such limited numbers you're not likely to see a WRX AoS. But if you do, it'll be black, with glossy black 17-inch alloys and special badging. Which is black.
The WRX is as deliciously ferocious as ever. The AoS is manual only, so with direct drive, all that power and the Kiwi road-friendly suspension compliance for which the WRX has become famous (it's that rally heritage again), this Subaru explodes out of corners, adjusts instantly to changes in throttle pressure and generally make you feel like you're on the edge.
It's the best WRX in ages: all the dynamic virtues of the donor car plus a bit more excitement and turn-in ability from the AoS package. The style-conscious might shrink at the sheer blackness of it all, but any enthusiast will come away from this car with a real buzz on.
Just don't expect any of the latest Impreza's vastly improved cabin quality and ergonomics. That kind of detail stuff was never the old model's strong point and nothing has been changed for the AoS. Not that you'll be focusing on a few wobbly buttons and hard plastics when you're driving this car.