Fast. That one word sums up the experience of driving the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. On the street or the racetrack, the car simply performs. The $35,290 STI promises to be all things to all men. It has 4-doors and all-wheel drive which makes the car practical. It also has the ability to outrun the BMW M235i and Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG on the racetrack. How can this family sedan with a giant wing outrun cars nearly twice as expensive? Let’s take a look at some of the technology that makes the STI a serious performer.
Powering the 2015 STI is a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5L BOXER engine making 305 hp and 290 lbs/ft of torque. BOXER engines are unique because the cylinders lay flat instead of a V formation. Along with a unique sound, the flat-4 engine lowers the center of gravity of the car which improves handling.
Power runs to a symmetrical all-wheel drive system. An electronic center differential determines whether to send power to the front or wheel axle. Once there, a Torsen differential splits power between the left and right wheels. There are several modes for the all-wheel drive, including an automatic and several manual modes. The system can send up to 60% of total power to the rear wheels.
The SI-Drive knob on the center console also controls the throttle response of the car. Sport and Sport Sharp liven things up and pressing the knob puts it in an automatic mode.
The computer wizardry doesn’t end there. The WRX STI features Brake Vectoring, which applies the brake to an individual front wheel to help cornering. As long as the traction control is in TRAC Mode or fully-on, the system works. The system tries to prevent understeer when cornering. Here’s a brief description of understeer and oversteer.
On the infield road course at Texas Motor Speedway I got to experience the system in action. Coming out of a corner the car felt like it was going to understeer. Just when it started to push, I could feel the left front brake bite for just a moment, causing the front end to swing into the corner preventing the understeer. It works very well.
Other go fast goodies include the gigantic rear wing that provides downforce at speed. A 6-speed manual transmission (the only option) works well and the pedals are ideally placed for heel-toe downshifting. Also, the handbrake actually has a handle and isn’t an electronic unit.
As a car that you’d drive daily, the stiff suspension will be a bit uncomfortable. In order to be competent on the track, it has to be a little stiff for the street. I drove this car back-to-back against a Jaguar F-Type V8 S, and the Dynamic Mode on the Jag was stiffer than the suspension on the STI.
Built on the Impreza platform, the STI has four doors and a decent sized trunk. The 23 mpg highway rating is lower than I’d like to see, but on par with many turbocharged high performance vehicles.
Automatic climate control comes standard, as does LED low beam headlights and taillights. Buyers can upgrade to a leather interior, push button start and satellite navigation. With all the option boxes checked, the STI rings the cash register at roughly $40,000.
I really enjoyed my brief drive in the STI. It makes a novice look like a pro on the race track, it carries all of your things and it provides great value for the dollar in performance. The big wing and aggressive body kit aren’t subtle; people will know that you bought that car to go fast. That’s okay because it rewards the driver every time they’re behind the wheel.
|Motor Review Fast Facts:|
|Trim Package:||WRX STI|
|Fuel Economy:||17mpg city / 23mpg highway / 19mpg combined|
|Engine:||2.5L Turbo BOXER 4-Cylinder|
|Horsepower and Torque:||305hp and 290lbs/ft|
|Price as Tested:||$35,290|
|Pros:||Handling. Speed. Versatility.|
|Cons:||Rough Ride. Boy Racer Looks.|
|Final Thoughts:||The AWD affordable speed king.|
|Vehicle provided by manufacturer for review.|