I love the big wing that sits atop the WRX STI’s trunk. In fact, without it, both the outgoing model and the all-new generation look kind of bland.
Make no mistake, though: While the rear wing is back (on select trim levels, at least), it’s not the car’s best attribute ― far from it, actually. As cool and attractive as it may be, it’s just one of the many nods to the past on the 2015 Subaru WRX STI; the new features and upgrades are what makes it better than ever.
I must admit that I profoundly disliked the old WRX STI, going as far as to rank it among my biggest disappointments of 2013. The pressure was on Subaru to convince me that its iconic sports car would not only return on the right track, but also make headway.
Aesthetically, the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI has nothing in common with its predecessor other than that picnic table-sized wing. As for the entry-level Impreza, they are now worlds apart.
The nose stretches further forward, the grille is more refined, and the whole package appears less boxy. The new design is a bit generic, sure, but also quite modern and definitely more proper. If you’re looking for something a little less flashy, the WRX STI is available with a smaller rear wing or even no wing at all (which makes it almost identical to the base WRX, but it’s up to you).
The interior has also been revamped. Styling is not Subaru’s forte, and its approach remains conservative, but at least material selection and the driving position have significantly improved. The gauges look sharper, red stitching provides contrast, and the entire cabin is generally well thought out and more than satisfying. Let’s all give Subaru a fittingly conservative round of applause!
Despite the larger interior dimensions, rear-seat room continues to be a bit of an issue, leaving passengers wanting for more. Up front, however, life is good.
You don’t buy a Subaru WRX STI for its looks or materials; it’s all about performance. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the new 2015 model is the best I’ve ever driven. Granted, I did not spend time on the road, but my experience on the Buttonwillow race track was enough to turn me into a fan.
The 2.5L horizontally opposed 4-cylinder BOXER engine hasn’t changed, and still packs 305 well-trained horses. However, the much more rigid chassis and improved throttle response contribute to a better sorted car.
More specifically, the chassis and suspension of the 2015 Subaru WRX STI are 14% and 21% stiffer, respectively, while the steering boasts the quickest ratio (13.0:1) of any Subaru so far. The result is amazingly sharp and precise handling, along with a remarkable balance and a supreme ability to control the machine in any and all conditions.
Don’t believe me? Just ask former rally champion Tommi Mäkinen, who stepped into the driver’s seat after my not-so-hot laps to show journalists the real potential of the new WRX STI. Stable and neutral, the car devoured corners with ease as Mäkinen kept just one hand on the steering wheel even beyond 160 km/h. Needless to say I hung onto the handle with both hands…
Once again, the WRX STI comes with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system and Driver Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD). The latter allows the driver to adjust the centre differential locking through three different modes (Comfort, Sport, and Sport Sharp) and customize the torque sent to the front and rear wheels.
When it comes to accelerating and braking, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI proves more refined, more subtle, and yet more capable than ever.
Three trim levels are available. The base one is surprisingly affordable at $37,999, the Sport Package starts at $40,495, and the Sport-tech Package retails for $44,995 (the last two mostly stand out with aero bits and other accessories).
In any trim, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is a winner, for sure. It went from one of my biggest disappointments of 2013 to likely one of my top hits of 2014.