It’s the most surprising price tag for a performance model since Toyota launched the 86 at $29,990 in 2012.
There’s an $11,000 reduction for the Subaru WRX STI Premium model, which now starts from $54,990 and adds a number of creature comforts.
While the new Subaru WRX – released in March from $38,990 – downsized to a 2.0-litre engine with direct injection, the 2015 WRX STI is powered by the familiar 2.5-litre engine, which churns out 221kW at 6000rpm and 407Nm at 4000rpm. The 2.5-litre powerplant features a tuned and enhanced ECU and dual Active Valve Control (AVCS).
The dual AVCS optimises torque response, particularly in the 2000 to 4000rpm band of the rev range, which is good news for the daily drive. The engine tweaks result in a locally tested 0-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds.
2015 Subaru WRX STI gets a reinforced six-speed manual transmission with a shorter shift and reduced vibration, ensuring shaper, crisper gear shifts. The driver can select centre differential control characteristics depending on road conditions and driver preferences. Drive modes include 'Intelligent', 'Sport' and 'Sport Sharp'.
Outside, the iconic STI rear wing remains, although for the first time buyers can opt for a 2015 WRX STI without the rear wing as a no-cost delete option. 18-inch wheels, and STI badging ensure the STI model stands out from the WRX. Buyers get lightweight 18-inch BBS alloy wheels for the Premium variant. Dusk-sensing LED headlights with halogen high beam and rain-sensing wipers are also standard. Daytime LED running lamps are fitted to both models.
In the cabin, dual zone climate control is standard along with a driver's knee airbag which rounds out the total of seven airbags. Soft touch surfaces have been improved throughout the interior and there's also a first for STI, in the form of a race-inspired D-shaped steering wheel.
Red highlights throughout the cabin, differentiate the STI from the standard WRX as do the sculptured sports seats trimmed in a mix of leather and alcantara, with perforated leather on Premium variants.
Other Premium extras include lightweight BBS 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, heated seats and power driver’s seat.
The multifunction driver's display features a turbo boost indicator, and there's push button start and a smart key. Satellite navigation is standard, along with a reversing camera, and an entertainment system featuring Harmon Kardon speakers and amplifier.
Subaru WRX STI shares the WRX's best-ever-for-Subaru ANCAP score (35.83 out of 37).
Active Torque Vectoring is the centrepiece of Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Controls and Brembo brakes are also standard.
The WRX STI features numerous 'under the skin' differences to the garden variety ‘Rex’.
The suspension has been completely retuned, the chassis has been stiffened and the steering ratio has been sharpened to enhance the STI's sporting credentials. A quicker ratio headlines the steering changes, but mount bushings that are 230 per cent stiffer than standard deliver a more rigid system overall.
Look out for CarAdvice’s local review of the new Subaru WRX STI on Friday. For now, you can read our overseas review of the Subaru WRX STI.
2015 Subrau WRX STI: Key Features
Daytime running lights
Hill start assist
Welcome home lights
USB input and Bluetooth connectivity
Dual-zone climate control
Harman Kardon sound system
4.3-inch colour LCD
18-inch alloy wheels
WRX STI Premium (Additions over WRX STI)
Lightweight BBS 18-inch alloy wheels
Heated front seats
Heated door mirrors
Power driver's seat (eight-way adjustable)
2015 Subaru WRX STI pricing
WRX STI $49,990
WRX STI Premium $54,990