Driven : 2015 Subaru WRX STI review
Practical Motoring’s Subaru WRX STI review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell The 2015 Subaru WRX STI represents the ultimate evolution of the Subaru WRX.
Practical Motoring says Let’s not beat around the bush, this new WRX STI is quite clearly the best WRX STI ever. And it’s cheaper by $10k than its predecessor. My only gripe is with the interior, sure, it’s perfectly serviceable and well-built, it doesn’t feel as special inside as it perhaps should. But you won’t care about the interior when you turn the thing into the first corner on your favourite stretch of road. It’s just brilliant.
THE SUBARU WRX STI IS BACK. And, thanks to a raft of technical changes underneath its sharp creased skin, it’s quite possibly the best WRX STI since the original hit the road back in 1999. That it’s a staggering $10,000 cheaper than its predecessor ($49,990+ORC) is the icing on the cake.
The looks of the new WRX STI have mostly been dealt with in our WRX CVT review, but let’s just say that this new WRX STI is easily the best looking variant since the original STI from 1999 – you can have it without the rear wing, too; it’s a no-cost delete option. And, inside, besides the figure-hugging sports bucket seats with red-contrast stitching, there’s soft-touch plastic everywhere, although the interior can’t match the quality of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, or even the Kia Pro_cee’d GT. The instrument cluster features a dual dial layout with 3.5-inch full-colour Multi-Function Display which, among other things, includes a boost pressure display screen.
Thanks to the A-pillar being pushed forward and made thinner, with the addition of a quarter window, forward vision is excellent, and because the rear wing sits a little higher now, rear vision is excellent too. Boot space has grown by 40 litres to 460 litres.
While the new WRX STI looks very similar to the new WRX there are plenty of differences between the two, and at first glance you might think the new WRX STI is a little behind the times. It isn’t.
Yes, it carries over the same 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine as its predecessor, while the new WRX runs the smaller capacity and newer FA-Series 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine (which is shares with the Forester XT). The WRX STI’s engine produces 221kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 407Nm of torque at 4000rpm, although there’s plenty of grunt on tap at middling revs (from 2000rpm). Fuel consumption is 10.4L/100km.
The new WRX STI also carries over the previous-generation’s short-throw six-speed manual, and the old car’s three limited-slip differential set-up (helical in the front, electro-mechanical in the middle, and TORSEN at the back). But, don’t go thinking Subaru is short-changing you, because while Subaru’s engineers have used plenty of parts from the old car they’ve also extensively tweaked every single nut and bolt, bush, damper setting and steering (which is quicker at 13.0:1). The body is stiffer too (by 40%) while lateral stiffness at the front and back is up by 14% and 35%, respectively.
And that means for the first time in ever, the WRX STI turns-in with the sort of verve and determination that takes a moment or two to get your head around. Previously, when you tipped the car into a corner carrying any sort of real momentum the front would wash wide, but not anymore. This is in part because of the STI’s Active Torque Vectoring System which, under hard driving, say, on a racetrack, is able to brake only the inside front wheel while allowing power to flow to the outside front wheel to ensure a tight and tidy corner exit.
The WRX STI sits nice and flat through corners and the tweaked suspension and damping ensure only the worst of surfaces upset its otherwise near-perfect composure. It’s easily one of the most forgiving performance cars on the planet.
While the new WRX runs electric power assist steering, the WRX STI sticks with hydraulic steering, albeit reworked with a faster ratio, and it’s so much better than the old car’s steering. There’s decent weight through the meaty, flat-bottomed steering wheel and while there’s still the trademark steering kickback from mid-corner bumps when cornering hard it’s better controlled and less likely to bump the car off the chosen line. Big Brembo brakes at the front and back ensure the thing stops and keeps stopping all day.
In terms of safety, the WRX STI receives a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating and comes with a range of active and passive safety systems, including all-wheel drive, stability and traction control, reversing camera and seven airbags.