Working with the steering is Subaru's trademark Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, heightened with Active Torque Vectoring. In conjunction with the braking system and traction control, STI can apply brake pressure to the inside wheel during cornering, which sends more power to the outside wheel – drastically improving cornering performance.
I know that's a lame explanation, but it makes total sense behind the wheel. Other technologies and parts on the STI include a TORSEN limited-slip rear differential, a helical limited-slip front differential and an STI-tuned sport suspension. Making the WRX STI slightly more RWD bias.
Brembo, is an all to familiar name to motorcyclists, and the WRX STI is outfitted on all four corners with high-performance name plate. Experiencing them first hand on the track, I found that it was possible to accelerate hard and brake much later, knowing that the brakes wouldn't deteriorate while I was tucking into corners hunting for my fellow journalists.
The track is great, and I really enjoyed putting the STI through its paces. But after a lunch break, I was given the opportunity to explore the public roads in Carmel. One in particular peaked my interest. A long stretch of the thrill ride named "Carmel Valley Road." This, roughly, 30-mile two-lane snakes through farm country and local vineyards. Its a delightful bit of mixed terrain with dips, banking, rises and twists that follow the topography as the Gods intended. Luckily, it's a sparingly patrolled by the local CHP which offered up an invitation to entertain my inner rally ambitions.
The STI really shines on a road like this. On the track, the driving is really technical, but predictable. You know that the surface will be perfect, that there won't be any oncoming traffic, and that you're not going to get a ticket or run over a cow.
On a public road, having a car that is in tune with your reactions is incredibly important. This is where the STI steering feel really pays off. The car goes exactly where you point it, and inputs are practically telepathically transmitted. You know that feeling when you carve a perfect curve on your motorcycle? It's one of the great feelings on earth -- you choose a line, the bike leans to a precise angle and you sweep around the curve without any sense of effort, in harmony with gravity and centrifugal force. It's a beautiful feeling. I almost got that feeling on a few curves in the STI -- amazing for a car, simply amazing, and the best evidence that the STI is really a sports car, not just a tuned sedan.
Some potential buyers will quibble about the big
lunch table wing on the back of the STI, but Subaru claims that it's actually functional and delivers down force that improves handling at speed–or so the engineers say. I like the exterior design of the STI, especially the Launch Edition, which gets a coat of that Subaru Blue paint, gold wheels and some special interior trim colors.
STI is available in three trim levels at the start: STI (starting at $34,495); Launch (limited to 1,000 units at $37,395); and Limited (starting at $38,495). Subaru sees its competitors as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (if they still churn those out), the Volkswagen Golf R, the Audi S4, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, BMW 3-series and Mustang GT. I'd also add the Mazdaspeed3 to the list.
The 2015 Subaru WRX STI isn't cheap. It's a reasonably priced sports car that has enough comfort and refinement to be a daily driver. It's rated to deliver 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway, but good luck driving with enough restraint to get that kind of fuel economy. You'll be looking for the long way home if you take your STI to work, and it will take an amazing level of maturity to keep a clean record during while the car is in your name.
If you are seriously considering an STI, you should think about joining a weekend race club so you can take full advantage of the car's abilities in a safe (and more importantly, ticket-free) environment. The STI and your family will thank you while you sculpt a permanent grin on your mug.