The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is all about refined aggression, or perhaps aggressive refinement. Either way, from a performance standpoint, it’s the best Subaru ever.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2015 Subaru WRX STI||$39,290||$40,790||305 / 290|
|EPA MPG||As Tested MPG||Curb Weight LBS|
|17 / 23 / 19||N/A||3,444|
Remember, Subaru is the Japanese company that paid homage to the original Volkswagen Beetle and brought us cool little all-wheel drive vehicles like the Brat pickup and the old FF-1 station wagons, some of which are still beating winter weather roads in Colorado and Vermont.
The Volkswagen reverence lies in the fact that all Subaru models use horizontally opposed engines, also called boxer or flat. They are the same type that powered the famed VW Beetles and microbuses of yesteryear.
Boxer engines have their cylinders lying horizontally, feet to feet, on both sides of the crankshaft, unlike most other engines that have their cylinders standing upright or leaning in V or W patterns.
Subaru uses boxers exclusively in all of its cars and crossover utility vehicles. The only other mainstream manufacturer currently installing boxers is Germany’s Porsche, though not in all models.
Boxer engines offer inherent advantages. Because of their low profile, they enable the car to have a lower center of gravity for better stability. The design also makes it relatively easy to run a driveshaft off the back of the engine for all-wheel drive.
One result was that Subaru decided to offer all-wheel drive as standard equipment on all its cars. The only exception is the BRZ sports car, which was developed jointly with Japan’s Toyota and has rear-wheel drive.
But the BRZ is modest compared to its garage mates, the WRX and, the subject here, the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI. Both are based on the Subaru Impreza compact and deliver outstanding performance with the WRX STI at the pinnacle. Both have abandoned hatchback configurations and are available only as four-door sedans with six-speed manual gearboxes.
Four-door cars now can be made nearly as rigid as your average I-beam, and the STI is no exception. Expensive high strength steel is applied strategically and liberally to deliver a solid structure.
Call it the grin maker. Except for the punishing ride on all but the smoothest surfaces, which you’d expect from a car that is nearly racetrack ready out of the showroom, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is a consolidation of the right stuff for a sports sedan, to wit:
- It’s a soupcon over 15 feet long with interior volume that classifies it as a compact, just shy of mid-size. Its four doors make it more useful than, say, the superb new BMW M235i two-door sportster.
- The stiff but supple suspension system, combined with hydraulic power steering and all-wheel drive with a center differential, keeps all four wheels planted for snowboard handling on twisting roads, even those with bumps and potholes that likely will loosen your molars.
- High performance Brembo brakes deliver stops with the authority of a rajah or dictator.
- Alcantara, a man-made sticky cloth similar to suede, keeps the driver’s torso cuddled like a Red Tailed Hawk with a newly hatched nestling.
- The six-speed gearbox takes a smidgen of muscle and the clutch is a touch grabby, but properly respected they keep the STI on the boil.
- The 305 horsepower, 2-5-liter four-cylinder engine, with direct injection, turbocharging and intercooling, delivers acceleration a stopwatch tick over five seconds. That’s Subaru’s number, likely to be overtaken as enthusiast publications do their own testing.
So the STI can’t be perfect, right? Okay. The stupid sun visors do not slide on their support rods to block sunlight from the side. It’s annoying, but not a deal breaker. Attach a piece of cardboard with a rubber band.
Three 2015 Subaru WRX STI models are offered at introduction: Base, at $35,290 or, for those who want cognoscenti cachet, the exclusive $38,190 Launch Edition. Limited to 1,000 copies, it comes in Subaru’s signature blue paint with gold alloy wheels.
The tester here was the $40,790 Limited model, which has a bit more equipment and can be ordered in German racing silver—or other colors—and has every option any performance enthusiast might want. Suffice it to say that this is one of the few all-out sports sedans you can find at a doable price. Forget income inequality. You likely can figure out a way to make the 2015 Subaru WRX STI your daily driver, family hauler and weekend track star.
Just be sure you can drive a stick shift.
Without skipping a week, Frank A. Aukofer has written a motor vehicle review column since 1975. It is distributed to newspapers and web sites around the country. He spent the bulk of his career as a mainstream newspaper reporter and Washington bureau chief for the Milwaukee Journal. The column started as a sideline at the Journal and over the years spread to other newspapers and web sites. He is a member of the judging panel for the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year. Aukofer is the author of two books: “City with a Chance” (1968), a history of civil rights in Milwaukee, and “Never a Slow Day” (2009), an autobiography/memoir. With the late Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence, a decorated former Vietnam POW, Aukofer co-authored a Freedom Forum study of the military-media relationship called “America’s Team: the Odd Couple” (1995).