Review: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

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Review: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

I’m not a racer, but invite me to ride or drive on a racetrack, and I’m there. When the invitation hit my inbox to experience the 2015 Subaru WRX STI in Monterey, California, including some time on the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, I nearly broke my fingers pounding out my response on the keyboard. YES!

I managed to bring my heart rate back to normal, and to consider the STI. The WRX is the hot version of the Subaru Impreza, and the WRX STI is the even hotter version of the WRX–”STI” stands for “Subaru Techica International Inc.”. An independent company that was established in 1988 to manage Subaru’s motorsport activities. In concert with the regular Subaru engineers, STI plans and develops the WRX STI. They even make their own line of tuning parts and accessories for Subaru vehicles but also builds and races specialty Subarus across several racing outlets around the world. Famously earning recognition during their championship years competing in the World Rally Cross arena.

2015 Subaru WRX STI

The new 2015 WRX raised a few eyebrows when it was launched to the press a few months ago. The controversy mainly centered around the option of a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission), almost never considered a high performance feature. The standard six-speed manual is still the primary choice, but the braying can’t be silenced. Some WRX purists were offended, and chose to pan the new car as a result.

The 2015 STI suffers no such controversy. Available as a sedan only (no hatchback), and with just one transmission — a fantastic six-speed manual, with an available short-throw kit.  Power comes from a 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer (horizontally opposed) engine, tuned to produce 305hp and 290 lb-ft of torque -–a substantial bump over the WRX’s 2.0L powerplant.

2015 Subaru WRX STI

Enough facts and figures. What’s it like to drive?

In two words – great fun.

My first experience would take place on the track first thing in the morning. We went out in groups of four and five, with a Pro Driver leading us through the first lap to demonstrate lines, and strict instructions not to race or pass. I chose to drive sweep (last position), so that I wouldn’t have to worry about slowing down any of the fast guys. Some of my fellow journalists have a lot of racing experience and ability, and some are just nuts. I like to use the track to experience the vehicle at close to its limits, without having to worry about adverse road conditions, opposing traffic or other (bad) drivers. It’s a side benefit that I get to improve my driving skills — every trip to the track does that.

Here’s what I learned about the STI at Laguna Seca. I drove about 10 hot laps during the morning session, and another 10 warm up/cool down laps, and the STI handled every situation with amazing grip and grace.

2015 Subaru WRX STI

There are several components that lead to great track performance, and STI has them nailed. First of all, hydraulic power steering (as opposed to electric on the WRX) delivers direct road feel and amazingly sharp turn in with almost motorcycle-like in its precision.

Continue Reading: Review: 2015 Subaru WRX STI>>

  • Blixa

    Veeery interesting. I have an ’09 wrx. Evil little car. Always tempting me to drive like a hooligan. I’ve taken it places a car probably shouldn’t go, but it’s happy on all sorts of gnarly stuff (and on a track). I almost pulled the trigger on the last STI, but got into motorcycles and forgot about it. Still, been reading terrific things about this one and have had nothing but fun in my Subie Doo. A test drive is in order.

    • Tall Jones

      The ’09 is most definitely evil. :) Subaru overcompensated that year for all the bad press that they received about the ’08, so that was the year I pulled the trigger and became a WRX owner too. I’ve been riding so much for the past year unfortunately that the parts to Stage 2 my exhaust have been sitting in my garage, ready to go on. This past fall I drove so little that I actually went out to a dead battery one cold morning and had to replace it. I need to show her a little more love I think this next year, but I gotta say I have absolutely no regrets about that purchase.

      • Blixa

        I hear you- my car hasn’t gotten out much either due to the bike. And the mods in store for it, I’ve put off indefinitely. But this winter, I went skiing in WV and got to shake off all the dust on the snowy mountain twisties out there. I forgot how much fun that car is to drive.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      Preach on! (2010 WRX Wagon owner)

    • BryonCLewis

      See when you live in a winter climate you pick up a STI/WRX/EVO to use for winter fun, then you have bikes to use all summer long. Long my bike in the warmer months, and love my car in the winter months.

  • Suby555

    Owning an ’04 STi, this is something i think is on the list of test drives.
    Just bought a BRZ last year, its decent. but i wouldnt mind parting with it….

  • Ben Mcghie

    That’s brutal economy. Not that you really consider it when buying this kind of car… but come on! If McLaren can get 30mpg out of the MP4-12C, which is an even more monstrously powerful sportscar, with a similar 4wdrivetrain, where is Subaru going wrong?

    Ah, as I was typing that I think I figured the answer.

    Price difference is buying you the weigh difference, among other things. I bet the Subaru is a good deal heavier, which accounts for a fair bit of the poor mpg rating. Unless the brits are using imperial gallons for their figures. :)

    • Ayabe

      It’s because they’re using the carryover powertrain which is now essentially 10 years old. Poor MPG, laggy turbo, and a peaky TQ curve, not to mention the ringland issues. Whereas a modern twin scroll design would get them a totally flat curve, much less lag, and more MPG(see 2015 WRX vanilla).

      I don’t want to mince words, anyone who buys this car over a normal WRX is a moron. Handling wise they are now closer than they’ve ever been and the normal WRX has a much better motor. Interior is the same, the WRX now has a 6 speed, etc, etc, etc.

      Subaru really screwed the pooch with this car, it’s an embarrassment to the name.

      • the antagonist

        Looking at the vanilla WRX vs the STI, the base model looks like a clear winner for a real-world sports car. Plenty of power, peak torque much earlier, significantly less turbo-lag, better MPG, and you don’t have to live with that hideous spoiler. All for 8 grand less!

        The STI still wins on the track, where keeping it redlined isn’t an issue and it’s beefier brakes and improved suspension and steering will pay off.

        But for a daily driver that will only occasionally do a track day, the base WRX is a no brainer. And you can use that extra 8K to buy another bike!

        • Jason Fogelson

          I agree, for the most part — but the more potent engine in the STI is very appealing, and might tip the scale for some drivers.

    • Eric Schicora

      The 12C is 2wd and is considerably more aerodynamic.

    • Stuki

      The McLaren is specifically tuned and geared for the latest US and Euro mpg tests. 30mpg i that car has absolutely no relation to practical reality at all.

      Subaru does the same to their more mainstream cars. Everyone does, so it’s not lie McLaren is some sort of class cheat. But for this limited volume tuner (albeit in house) special, I reckon Subie figured it simply wasn’t worth the effort. And looking at the target market; who can blame them? The kind of people who buy these cars will immediately strip off and bypass anything that could cost them a single horsepower anyway; while tuning their engine right back to it’s fuel burning, polluting glory regardless of how Subie delivers it off the showroom.

      To get a more realistic estimate of mpg, at least a portion of the test needs to be WOT. Otherwise, the only purpose of the test is to serve as marketing material for banksters who wants t brag about how powerful their car is to the conservative friends, while simultaneously bragging about how “environmental” it is to liberals. Or, in a few years time, as politicians’ excuses for taking older cars away fro people who cannot afford anything else, under pretense that Larry the Lobbyists Ferrari is so much better for Gaia.

  • jefflev

    I’ve driven many of these over the years, including the replica all aluminum one they made around 10(?) years ago. Most fun car ever. And good to see its still one of the ugliest cars ever. Its like a fat girl / moped / Ruckus. It’s incredibly fun to ride, but you don’t want your friends to see you with it!

  • labradog

    I love my Sube, but I come to Ride Apart to read about motorcycles. Why don’t you post this on Jalopnik.com?

    • Jason Fogelson

      Gotta move with the times, Labradog. DriveApart is the companion to RideApart, and we cover vehicles that might be of interest to motorcyclists. Man can not live on two wheels alone.

      • nick2ny

        Does Wes own a car?

      • Randy S

        “Man can not live on two wheels alone.”

        FALSE!

        • 80-watt Hamster

          True. For most of us, I’d wager.

      • labradog

        “Man can not live on two wheels alone.”
        That’s why we can own more than one bike at a time!

      • Dustin

        Jason, I understand the bridge between DriveApart and RideApart, but the “Man can not live on two wheels alone” might be going a little too far. This is probably the WORST place to write that. I think we all gravitated to HellForLeather because most of us are purist and do believe we CAN “live on two wheels alone”, whether that is true or not is debatable, but take your cage thinking somewhere else, it’s not needed here (respectfully).

        • Jason Fogelson

          Dustin — respectfully, lighten up. I love motorcycles, and I love cars, too. I also love guitars and dogs and food. Doesn’t mean I’m a “cage thinker.”

          • Dustin

            Nothing to lighten up about, it wasn’t suppose to be taken personally. As you love guitars and dogs and foods (so do I), you would not go to a dog forum and write about guitars, nor would you go to a food forum talking about dogs, it would be confusing. As you can see, “man can not live on two wheels alone” rubbed a lot of motorcycle enthusiast the wrong way. We come to Rideaprt to live out a fantasy, a dream, an experience we can’t do from our desk jobs, so when you say something like you did and post things that have nothing to do with our direct interest it kills the mood.

            • Jason Fogelson

              Dustin — I’m sure that for you, life on two wheels is more than just a fantasy. I’m envious.

              That said, there’s a pretty clear distinction between RideApart and DriveApart, and it’s not a mood killer to have the sites living side-by-side. Easy solution for you — don’t read the car/truck/SUV stuff. You’ll be missing out on my awesome writing, but I’m sure you’ll be okay. The last thing I want to do is rub you the wrong way. I just want to share my enthusiasm for all things motor and engine driven. I ride over 10,000 miles a year on motorcycles, and I love every minute of it — and I still have room for cool cars in my life, like many other readers do, I’m sure.

              And even if you do say “respectfully” after you tell someone to “take your cage thinking somewhere else,” don’t be surprised if they take it personally. I’ll admit that I have a pretty thin skin, but that’s still the kind of statement that will get a personal reaction from me.

              Hope you choose to continue reading. I know that you are an active commenter on the site, and I always enjoy seeing what you have to say. I really appreciate the active community here, and I hope that there are some readers who don’t see what we’re doing as talking about dogs on a guitar forum.

              • Hammertime

                Jason, you can’t sell tampons to men. I don’t want to read car gibberish on a motorcycle site. I want to read Wes’s highly strung opinions and all about the best all weather boots. Not about cages which I can get news from elsewhere. Sure, you can say ‘just don’t read it’ but we are not to blame if ‘you’ don’t get it. Take you car writing talents somewhere else. They are not needed here.

                • Jason Fogelson

                  Hammertime — don’t read. Cool with me. But I’ll stick around anyway, even if you’re not all that friendly. Too bad.

              • Piglet2010

                But can we pull our bike trailer to the track with the WRX STI?

                • Jason Fogelson

                  Strangely, Subaru doesn’t quote any towing capacity figures for the STI. I’ll contact them on Monday and see if they have a specification…

                • Jason Fogelson

                  Just heard back from Subaru, and they have not rated the STI for towing capacity. That doesn’t mean you can’t tow with it — that means that they assume that no one is interested. You’d need to get a hitch and wiring installed, and you’d have to be very gentle with the clutch, as it’s not designed for the stresses of towing. Not a recommended activity by Subaru.

                • Campisi

                  Try asking their UK offices, they’ll have a tow rating for you. Just don’t tell them you’re in the United States.

                • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

                  Yep. At least I do it with my 2010 WRX

      • Michael Howard

        Blasphemy!!! Heretic!!! Off with his head!!!

      • Justin McClintock

        While I agree with that sentiment, I believe Wes himself might disagree. In fact, I’m pretty sure he has in the comments section previously.

  • Piglet2010

    Reinhard Mohn, Random House, where there is smoke there is fire?

  • Tupack Shackur

    Jason, are you sure the torque vectoring is accomplished in the way you describe? In other reviews, I came to understand that the WRX had brake vectoring to improve turn-in, while the STI had legit torque vectoring. It was made to seem like they were distinctly different systems. Is that not the case?

    • Jason Fogelson

      Tupack, I’ll dive back into the materials I’ve got and see if I’m misinterpreting, but I understood that torque vectoring was still initiated by braking.

      • Tupack Shackur

        Never mind, the original source I saw that (Jalopnik) has updated its article. Thanks for getting it right the first time!

        • Jason Fogelson

          Thank you, Tupack. The concept of torque vectoring is a little hard to grasp and explain — I’m glad I didn’t muddy the waters.

  • Sid Widmer

    Too bad it looks like a Camry with a wing.

    • Justin McClintock

      Indeed. The last couple of WRX’s have looked nothing short of fugly.

  • Michael Howard

    To pick nits, STI stands for “Subaru Tecnica International”. My tongue stumbled over “techica” so I looked it up. ;)

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks, Michael — sausage fingers.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    Mountains are peaked.
    Your interest is piqued.