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  • Sub-$50K price tag; overall ride and bump absorption; steering response; smooth power delivery; beefed up six-speed gearbox
  • No Recaro seats; Boxer rumble all but gone; no auto option; no direct injection

OUR RATING
8 / 10



2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

There’s a lot to be said for history and heritage, but it also means a car like the 2015 Subaru WRX STI also has a mighty weight to carry in motoring terms when the new kid on the block has such high standards to live up to.

Subaru fans will be expecting serious performance and ability from this new STI given the brand’s reputation for rally-bred performance at a relatively affordable price.

And price is where the big highlight comes for the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. Given the razor sharp starting price of $49,990 – a massive $10,000 cheaper than before – a whole host of potential new fans will be watching closely, in addition to existing fans of the brand.

That’s without taking into account the fact there is an extra $7000 worth of standard equipment over the outgoing model. Subaru Australia sold 130 STI models in 2013 but expects to sell 300 this year. We think that might be a little conservative.

From the outside, there’s been a subtle shift from Subaru’s styling department that had its genesis in models like Forester and has gradually worked its way through the stable.

This new STI is quite understated compared with its predecessors – with the only leftover overt part being the sky-high rear wing. You don’t even have to have that, though. For the first time in STI history you can delete the wing at order for no cost and slip even further under the radar if you wish.

2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

Even the centrally mounted bonnet scoop has been toned down. It’s still there; it just isn’t such an assault on the visual senses.

We like the lightweight 18-inch BBS alloy wheels and personally I think I’d delete the wing. I say think because I’m just not 100 per cent sure which way I’d go. The wing says so much about the STI brand, but it’s also something that polarises non-believers. Despite the softening down of the hard edges, there’s still a certain something about the 2015 Subaru WRX STI that reminds passers by it is in fact an STI.

Inside the cabin, the old bugbear remains that the STI isn’t quite a significant enough step away from the basic WRX (and in turn the WRX not differentiated enough from the Impreza).

The lack of Recaro bucket seats – standard on older models – adds to that issue and there’s also the small matter of an audio system that feels, and looks, decidedly old school. That said, the fit, finish and touch surfaces are all a significant step forward (as noted in CarAdvice’s recent WRX first drive) from the outgoing model.

The race-inspired, D-shaped steering wheel is an attractive touch, too, although the driver’s footwell is a little tight, so you won’t want to be wearing wide shoes for track days. There’s little doubt that from behind the wheel, though, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the most refined STI ever.

2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

Interior legroom both front and rear is impressive for what in reality is still a compact sedan. With the driver’s pew set for my 187cm frame, there’s more than enough room for another adult to sit directly behind in the back seat. The 25mm that’s been added to the wheelbase has had visible positive results. Despite finding myself longing for the previous model’s Recaro buckets, the new front seats are definitely comfortable, if not quite as hip hugging – especially on the racetrack. I had to really bolster my legs around tight, fast corners at speed.

The view both fore and aft is uninterrupted with plenty of visibility and no obvious blind spots. The rear wing, should you choose to keep it, has even been lifted to aid in rearward visibility. The gauges and major controls are easy to decipher and you’re not drowning in a sea of switchgear and controls from behind the wheel.

Our first taste of the 2015 Subaru WRX STI was out on track, at Goulburn’s tight and twisty Wakefield Park. It’s been some time since I’ve taken an STI for a track thrash, but I certainly don’t recall having as much confidence in the pure mechanical grip as I had in this new model.

Unless you’re being silly, understeer is almost completely non-existent, and you can dial in more or less traction control with the various drive modes. There’s a surfeit of grip and surety that no front- or rear-wheel-drive car can match, thanks to the active centre diff and clever AWD system.

We also noticed the engine note, which is decidedly muted from the grandstands, is significantly more pleasurable from the driver’s seat at speed.

The 2.5-litre engine pulls like a train right up to redline once you get rolling, but you do need to work the six-speed gearbox to keep the engine spinning in the meat of the power and torque delivery. The gearbox has been sharpened up a little, too, meaning shifts are smooth and precise. Stronger, less flexible mountings mean there is nothing in the way of vibration through the shifter at any speed.

Subaru is keen to remind us that the steering ratio has dropped from 15:1 to 13:1 to move the STI close to what Subaru describes as ‘Porsche-like’ in terms of steering feel and precision. The sharper, more direct steering and suspension compliance deliver real confidence on the track, which is a significant step forward from the previous model that had a tendency toward understeer. Turn in is quick and sharp and there’s enough feedback to keep the driver informed as to exactly what is going on under the front wheels.

Out on the open road, the STI is similarly impressive. Bump absorption, even on rutted country backroads, comes in for special mention. You don’t expect a car that handles as competently as the STI on a racetrack to soak up bumps so effortlessly on the road but the STI eats up country miles in comfort and insulation.

There’s ample shove from the engine, which has its torque right where you want it on the open road to execute an overtaking manoeuvre. And while 5th and 6th gears are both tall, they come into play on the highway. At crawl speeds around town, the combination of gearbox and clutch is never harsh or jerky, making for a pleasurable daily commute. There is no doubt that the STI is a genuine performance flagship that you can live with comfortably every day.

There’s no auto option, however, unlike the regular WRX that is available with a CVT. Some keen drivers might consider such a thought heresy, but today’s enthusiasts are not necessarily all fixated on a manual gearbox.

The Subaru WRX STI has always been keenly respected by enthusiasts of both the Japanese brand itself and of sedans with a sporting heritage. Despite past flaws like turbo lag and an interior that was every bit the garden variety Impreza, there’s always been something innately attractive about a vehicle that is as fast point to point as cars costing more than double. Given the new, razor shape pricing, the new Subaru WRX STI is could be even harder to resist.


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SUBARU WRX BREAKDOWN

2015 Subaru WRX STI Review
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  • 8.5
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  • 5
  • 9
  • 9.5
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Subaru WRX Specs

(AWD) : MY15 : 2.0L TURBO MPFI - 6 SP MANUAL - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
SUBARU
Model
WRX
Variant
(AWD)
Series
MY15
Year
2015
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$30,910 - $35,130
Dealer Retail
$31,270 - $37,180
Dealer Trade
$24,000 - $28,100
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
2.0L
Cylinders
TURBO 4
Max. Torque
350Nm @  2400rpm
Max. Power
197kW @  5600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
132.5W/kg
Bore & Stroke
86x86mm
Compression Ratio
10.6
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP MANUAL
Drive Type
ALL WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
4.444
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
60Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
9.2L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1487
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1475mm
Length
4595mm
Width
1795mm
Ground Clearance
135mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.8
Front Rim Size
8x17
Rear Rim Size
8x17
Front Tyres
235/45 R17
Rear Tyres
235/45 R17
Wheel Base
2650
Front Track
1530
Rear Track
1540
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Sport Seats
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Hill Holder, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Control
Driver
Adjustable Steering Wheel - Tilt & Telescopic, Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Mobile Phone Connectivity, Power Steering, Reversing Camera, Trip Computer, Voice Recognition System
Engine & Transmission
Limited Slip Differential
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Body Kit, Fog Lights - Front, Remote Boot/Hatch Release, Rear Spoiler
Interior
Centre Console Box - Multi-purpose, Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Protective Glazing, Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  12.5,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Eng Bay Scuttle
Country of Origin
Japan