Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

Jerry Reynolds | November 22, 2014
Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

DISCLAIMER: I am the wrong guy for this review. I don’t like this car at all, it is just not my thing. However, I will be objective for those of you who obsess over the Fast and Furious movies.

Let’s begin. I am a huge Subaru fan, I say on the air all the time that Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive system is the best in the industry. I also often say that Subaru doesn’t get the credit it deserves for quality equal to any Japanese car out there.

My test car starts as a Subaru Impreza, then it becomes a WRX, which gives it more horsepower and a different suspension, then the STI takes the WRX to a higher level of suspension and horsepower. Launch Edition is a special edition STI that adds even more suspension stiffness and rally racing features. Hence the name: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition. Incidentally, there are only 1000 Launch Editions going to be built this year.

Let’s go under the hood, where you’ll find a 305-horse. 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine. This engine puts out 290 lb-ft of torque and it actually feels like more. The Boxer is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and a high-performance clutch. When running the gears, there is a learning curve. The shift pattern is very short, meaning the gears are close together. If you don’t shift fast enough, the car lets you know with a loud beep. You quickly learn how to shift without getting beeped at.

The STI is a track car, either road rally, dirt, or a regular track. It has some very sophisticated equipment to help with any racing situation in which you want to participate. I have great respect for these systems, and applaud Subaru for their innovation. As a daily driver however, this car is a waste of resources on the freeway. Let’s examine what makes the STI the incredible car it is.

First, Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) is a powertrain management system that gives the driver a choice of modes for different types of driving. With a twist, the center-console controller accesses three different modes—Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp. Each mode alters the engine control maps, along with the response curve for the drive-by-wire throttle. In Intelligent mode, throttle response is softened for better fuel economy; Sport mode offers a more linear response; and Sport Sharp mode brings a more aggressive throttle calibration—at the expense of some drivability—for better response in transitional maneuvers.

Another system that is amazing is the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) part of the Symmetrical all-wheel system. The system employs planetary-type differential gears with a nominal 41:59 torque split. A mechanical limited-slip type center differential augments the electronically controlled differential to enhance torque transfer performance. Steering sensor input improves torque transfer response by accurately relaying the car’s cornering situation. Lockup is controlled by the transmission control module, with settings activated by a switch on the center console.

The driver may elect to engage the Vehicle Dynamics Control system (VDC-Subaru loves acronyms). You can custom-tailor the level of dynamic intervention offered by VDC. Changes are made by pushing a switch on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel column.

VDC has three settings: VDC – the default setting, optimized for daily driving situations. There are no warning lights associated with this mode, which enables all controls for ABS, the Traction Control System (TCS), and VDC. Option two is Traction, which turns the VDC warning light green. This setting is more performance-oriented, with less-aggressive stability control. Engine torque-reduction control is disengaged. Or choose off – this setting turns off stability control and the traction control functions for emergency situations, such as getting out of mud or snow.

The other system that makes this car a beast is Active Torque Vectoring (ATV) which simply put, applies light brake pressure to the inside front wheel as your Subaru car heads into a corner, which pushes more power to the outside front wheel, reducing wheel spin and sharpens handling. The STI also comes with the Brembo performance braking system. At first glance, the MSRP on the car appears to be high, but when you analyze all the sophisticated systems on the car, suddenly it seems OK.   

The interior of this special edition Subaru is very nice. You get a 3-spoke, flat- bottomed steering wheel with radio and cruise control buttons. The dash layout is smart with a small LCD central screen and a 4.3” information center at the top of the dash. My tester has Bluetooth, a 6-speaker stereo, and rearview camera. It has unique Launch Edition performance seats that are surprisingly comfortable. Back seat room is limited, but trunk space is more than adequate.

Outside, the Launch Edition comes in WR Blue Pearl (WR is world rally) and it is a very pretty color that only comes on this model. It also comes with gold-painted 18” alloy wheels, it has an awesome functional hood scoop, and then there is the rear spoiler. Good grief Charlie Brown, that is a big spoiler! It is functional, however, and actually serves a purpose other than embarrassing me while I drive it…it holds the car down at higher speeds, but there is some blockage of visibility. I also think it screams, “give me a ticket” to local law enforcement.

So, to wrap this up and put a nice little bow on it, the WRX STI is not unlike a rattlesnake to me. I give it much respect, but do not wish to share space with it. The $38,190 MSRP is a bargain for a technological wonder of a car, but I would pay that not to have to drive it every day. Objectively, I have to say the car is amazing; it’s just not for me.

What I liked most: The amazing technology in this car.

What I would change: The spoiler would have to go.

MSRP: Base price $38,190. As equipped $38,190

Fuel Economy: 17 City/23 highway.

Odometer reading when tested: 5289 miles.

Weight: 3386 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height: 180.9 long/70.7” wide/58.1” High.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gallons.

Towing Capacity: N/A

2015 Subaru WRX STI in a few words: Awesome car if you are into rally racing.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage..

Dealers: We have great Subaru dealers in Austin, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Antonio. Click here to find a dealer near you:Click Here to Find A Despreporno Certified Dealer Near You

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Photo Credit: Subaru
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