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Subaru WRX vs. Tesla Model 3

The Subaru WRX is one of the most popular performance vehicles for the middle class. The Tesla Model 3 is priced pretty similarly. But how do they shape up against each other?

The discussion between the Model 3 and the WRX is s pretty good comparison. I am a WRX owner, a 2015, and it’s been modded quite a bit. My field of study is Tesla though, including research over the Model 3. These are actually a pretty good match up. Options would bring the Tesla Model 3 up in price quite a bit but at its base, it is competitive with a WRX. The WRX would be loaded with options at the competitive price level which is a pro for the WRX.

The similarities stop at AWD. The Model 3 LR AWD (long range all-wheel drive) is not only a faster car off the line but it is more comfortable, economical, and up to date. Unfortunately, Subaru hasn’t had the time to really bring the WRX platform up to speed. It weighs in at over 3,200 lbs and comes from the factory with 268 hp. That’s a power to weight ratio of about 12 lbs horsepower.

The Tesla Model 3 weighs in fatter at just over 3,500 lbs and 283 hp, power to weight ratio of 12.4 lbs/horsepower. This is incredibly important because electric cars are naturally really heavy. 3,500 pounds is a lot of weight, but so is 3,200 pounds. When WRX first came to America, the average curb weight was about 2,800 lbs with similar power levels making it a way more fun car back in the day.

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The Subaru WRX

The Tesla Model 3's difference today with the Subaru WRX is the refinement. The chassis has been perfectly tuned today in 2020. The stiffness vs. comfort suspension makes it an amazing all-purpose car.

Whether you are driving it to work, or breaking records at the track, the WRX will be there for you. It features state of the art AWD that Subaru has been known for since the 80s. In 2020, they are retiring the “higher performance” model, the STI’s engine. The EJ series motor was Subaru’s flagship engine. They have since moved onto the FA series engine which had it’s debut beginning with a naturally aspirated version in the BRZ/86/FRS. It moved into a turbocharged variant featured in the updated WRX in 2015.

This is the model I have.

The new age motor has proven it’s benefits but enthusiasts will always love the EJ. The EJ featured an extremely distinct noise due to its unequal length headers causing a rumble. The FA has a twin-scroll turbo which allows peak torque way, way sooner than the EJ series offered. This is better in every way minus the sound since it has equal length headers. The boxer motor still gives off a nice sound especially with a full turbo-back exhaust like I have.

The WRX holds its own against the Model 3. The Subaru WRX is cheaper than the Tesla Model 3. It's more designed for a boy-racer type feel. It’s a rally car, vs. efficiency, luxury, and high-tech technology. But at its base price of $27,495 its honestly really hard to get more out of a car for the same price. There is a lot here.

Also watch 3 Ways Tesla Increased Model S and Model X Range by 20 miles nearing 400 miles of range per charge and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube for daily automotive news analysis.

The Model 3

The Model 3 features a whole bunch of pros vs the WRX, but mostly when it comes to quality of life. The Model 3 is not designed for racing, off-road performance, or loud noises. It does however feature battery powered engines and is entirely electric. This means no gasoline.

You plug in your car every night and you have plenty of charge to get to and from work and the grocery store. The car has tons of technological features not to mention its Tesla classic huge screen in the middle. It has a ton of option potential all the way to the performance model.

The sad truth here for Subaru WRX owners is that a base Model 3 would smoke a WRX in a drag race. A rally race definitely not, but a few mods on the WRX could easily reverse this loss. Today we aren’t talking about modified cars. The Model 3 is superior in most cases but it also comes with a heavier price tag, so there’s that.

The Truth About Comparing The Subaru WRX vs Tesla Model 3

The truth of the matter is that the Subaru WRX loses out to the Model 3 in most cases. If you are in the market for either of these cars it is a no brainer to buy the Model 3 but it honestly depends on what your end goal is. If you are just trying to get from point A to point B then absolutely buy the Model 3.

The Subaru WRX is designed for a thrilling driver experience for a super cheap price. If you are looking to have fun and are a performance enthusiast, save some money, mod out a WRX, you will not regret it. This is coming from a modded WRX owner and I’m telling you to buy the Model 3. Here’s to the Model 3 Rally car.

Alex Belauste writes for TorqueNews about all things Tesla. He has worked in the automotive industry for 18 years and has grown to love the culture. Alex writes automotive news based on research, his personal expertise and experience. Alex has studied business at Oklahoma State University and joined the business of the automotive world. Follow Alex on Twitter at @Belauste and on Instagram. Search Torque News Tesla for more daily Tesla coverage from our expert reporters.


Hey man (not verified)    February 15, 2020 - 1:19PM

Seriously.. You don't know what your talking about, buying wrx, will probably broke at less than 30000km.. It's just a really cheap shitty car. It's only fun to drive.. Open your wallet. You will need many and many money to repair this shitty car.

Darsh (not verified)    February 16, 2020 - 5:18AM

In reply to by Hey man (not verified)

Lol are you serious? You have never even touched a wrx based on your comment. I currently have a 2017 wrx at 80,000km and I have had one issue with it. Nothing has ever broke down, leaked or needed repairs that wasnt in the expected service schedule. A wrx that is well maintained and cared for can easily give you up to and possibly more than 650,000km in its life.

wrx = trash (not verified)    February 15, 2020 - 4:46PM

Why do people write car reviews when they clearly haven't driven both cars? This seems like it was written by a fourth grader doing a research project and not by an enthusiast. Guy doesnt even have a clue on comparing handling, steering feel or anything that actually matters. By the way comparing a modded POS 15 WRX is pointless because they aren't even reliable in stock form let alone when you go for more power. Not to mention they have pathetic hp gain for what you put into them. Very poor aftermarket potential unless you spend 10k+ on an engine so it can make more than a v6 Camry can. Also your car isn't a "rally car". Its an underpowered grocery getter that's overall lackluster in every department. Stop flaunting about subaru AWD when litterally your car has open differentials with no torque vectoring or yaw controll. My evo is the same year as you wrx and makes over 600hp reliably on the stock engine. That's a real comparison of luxury vs performance, both cost around the same, one has twice as nice an interior while the other makes twice the power. Only issue is used vs new but 2015 evos are still around at very low miles. BTW I've actually driven these cars.

sad (not verified)    February 15, 2020 - 10:56PM

In reply to by wrx = trash (not verified)

I feel bad for the evo that you got your hands on, I wish it went to an actual car enthusiast. While this article is pretty poorly written, you come off as a complete moron, just spewing cliches you picked up online. You are as much an enthusiast as a crayon eating sped is an artist. If you compare a camry to a wrx just by horsepower please just sell your evo and find another hobby. Saying the wrx isn't a rally car, hmm, let me guess how many rallies you have taken part in whatsoever, oh yeah NONE. While the sti offers certain advantages in that department (dccd), the wrx is a competent platform. I hope for everyone's sake you're just a lying idiot that probably doesn't even have a license, but regardless, just shut up.

wrx = trash (not verified)    February 16, 2020 - 3:39AM

In reply to by sad (not verified)

I've owned both cars so I'm just stating my experience. Imo my 2015 wrx was shit compared to my evo. The wrx might have potential to be a badass rally car but the current model is designed to attract boy racers who want to feel fast and cool. Yes a v6 camry makes about the same power and handles pretty similar to a 2015+ wrx (besides in snow) but at least the Toyota wont blow up at stock power levels. The FA20DIT is such a POS that the first aftermarket mod people recommend is an AOS so the stock pcv system doesnt blow the engine. You'd think after 9 years subaru would solve that. I like how you think I'm picking up cliches online but when you get the opportunity to drive these cars near their limits you can feel the difference between real torque vectoring vs the wrxs "torque vectoring" aka brake vectoring. Around turns in the evo you are in complete control with the ability to oversteer or hold a line at ease. The wrx handles okay but if you try to push it it can become very unpredictable near its limits. If you have any experiences driving these cars near their limits I would gladly read them. Calling me a moron and idiot is probably fun and all but I'd love to hear your experiences, I wont judge.

Steve (not verified)    February 15, 2020 - 7:38PM

Just drove from Toronto to Myrtle Beach 1525 km in 16 hours 9 minutes. Tesla would have needed 4 recharges, so please, stop trying to telling us that electric are so great when you're driving in two of the largest countries in the world. Electric are for city only. Great second car but not too practical for those of us who like to travel in the great countries we live in. My relatives are 8 hours away, so...........

Todd Wright (not verified)    February 29, 2020 - 2:37AM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

Last year I did a Seattle to LA road trip, 1187 miles/1910 km each way. 21 hours and 31 minutes total elapsed time down; 21 hours and 15 minutes total elapsed time back up. Eight stops to charge each way; each stop was a bathroom/stretch-your-legs break and three were also meal breaks. If we extrapolate your pace to my distance, you'd do it in 20 hours and 12 minutes. Since that road trip, Tesla has improved Supercharger speeds that would easily trim 16% of my charging time on the same chargers and are adding newer higher speed chargers that will trim it even further. CAN you do it faster by doing it in "Cannonball" fashion? Absolutely. But even with the older charging rate I experienced on my road trip, you only save about an hour based on how you ACTUALLY drive a road trip (I'm assuming this one is representative of a typical road trip for you). Now balance that out with the rest of the time. It takes me 15 seconds to plug in and 15 seconds to unplug for my "fueling" at home a couple times a week. You save a little time on a road trip (and admittedly COULD save more); I save time (and money) the rest of the time. Road tripping in an EV (at least a Tesla) is just not that difficult and certainly doesn't overshadow all the benefits it has over most ICE cars.

For your relatives 8 hours away: Likely 3 stops each for less than 20 minutes (use the restroom, stretch your legs, find some food or eat what you brought). Now you're at 9 hours... maybe.

get-a-clue-dude (not verified)    February 16, 2020 - 1:54PM

Nobody shops a WRX vs a Tesla. You can drive a base WRX out of the showroom for under $30k all in. The Model 3 starts at $40k and prices accelerate quickly from there (due to price gouging, not torque). Totally different driving experiences targeted at totally different audiences. Might as well be comparing your favorite toilet paper to your coffee filters. They're both able to fulfill the same function in a pinch, but nobody chooses between them.

Chis (not verified)    February 19, 2020 - 7:35PM

In reply to by get-a-clue-dude (not verified)

I shopped for a STI vs Model 3. Check out what Mountain Pass Performance are doing to Tesla cars. Having driven both I can tell you a modified model 3 is no better or worse than a Subaru STI. They are just different and I love them both.

Chis (not verified)    February 19, 2020 - 7:29PM

I literally had to make the choice between the model 3 SR+ and a Subaru STI. The model 3 won, but only because it can be modified with suspension upgrades and brake upgrades from Mountain Pass Performance to make it a true drivers car. I love the Subaru and will go to rally school days to get my fix. The modified model 3 works for daily driving with the family.

Todd Wright (not verified)    February 29, 2020 - 2:02AM

Former WRX owner and current Model 3 owner here... To the article author: You might want to check your numbers (or at least better define on both the WRX and the Model 3. The WRX was a 2003 (first body style in the US if I’m not mistaken) but a wagon and it weighed in at 3150 pounds. Now I'm sure the wagon was a bit heavier than the more classic 4-door, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t 300-plus pounds heavier. You note the “Model 3 LR AWD (long range all-wheel drive)” but then give a weight, horsepower and weight ratio of the Standard Range Model 3 (RWD). The LR AWD weighs in at 4172 pounds and has 346 hp for a weight ratio of 11.7. This assumes the LR AWD has not had the $2000 downloaded “mod” that takes the 0 to 60 time from 4.4 seconds to 3.9 seconds (I haven’t yet seen a horsepower rating with this “mod” done).

I agree with the general conclusion: if you’re actually going to run it on the track or do rally runs, get a WRX and modify it; if you’re going to use it as a street car, the Model 3 in any variant is a better car and way cheaper to run. “Cheaper” will vary significantly based on your area’s specific cost for electricity vs. gasoline. My WRX cost me 13.5 cents per mile driven in fuel over 222k miles and 12 years (based on $3.099/gallon); my Model 3 costs me 3.5 cents per mile in electricity (based on 11 cents per kWh). The WRX is without question cheaper up front, but depending on your local “fuel” costs, the Model 3 may actually be cheaper in the long run. I have my WRX fuel log that tells me in my particular case the LR AWD Model 3 is cheaper than buying a new WRX (and it’s a damn sight quicker).

Erika Wynn (not verified)    October 31, 2020 - 1:47PM

In reply to by Todd Wright (not verified)

Actually, the very first WRX model year was 2002, and it included the 4-door sedan, and the hatchback wagon. I only know this because I owned the sedan model. I also traded it in when the 2005 came out, and now I have a 2019 limited WRX with the performance exhaust system. It’s so much fun to drive, and I would take it any day over an electric car. I also love that Subaru has one if the highest IIHS safety ratings in the industry. I’ve heard about safety problems with the Tesla where people were trapped in the car and died because first responders couldn’t get the doors open due to the recessed door handles. No thank you.

Todd Wright (not verified)    November 3, 2020 - 11:20AM

In reply to by Erika Wynn (not verified)

Yes, the "02 was the first year, and the '03 was the same body style... I just happened to get the wagon version (I think '03 was the first year the wagon was offered, but I'm not certain). That aside, could you cite your source for that "people were trapped in the car and died because first responders couldn’t get the doors open due to the recessed door handles" claim? The only real world issue I'm aware of is a lawsuit regarding a Model S which has an "auto-presenting" handle whale the Model 3 is a mechanical handle that wouldn't have this same potential issue.

With the safety ratings out there (the Impreza gets a "Top Safety Pick" from the IIHS while the Model 3 gets a "Top Safety Pick+") and crash ratings from other entities report similar results (both are very good in this respect).

I still stand by my original thesis: "If you’re actually going to run it on the track or do rally runs, get a WRX and modify it; if you’re going to use it as a street car, the Model 3 in any variant is a better car and way cheaper to run."