The 2015 model year has seen the introduction of an all-new version of the car that brought turbocharged, rally-derived compact performance to American shores. The 2015 Subaru WRX continues to deliver on its promise of affordable small car fun, but it does so in a manner that suggests a certain maturity has arrived hand-in-hand with this latest redesign. The WRX is no longer a guilty pleasure - it's now much more capable of navigating through the real-world traffic of the daily grind when it's not screaming down special stages or eating up tarmac a quarter mile at a time.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Subaru WRX.
01. The 2015 Subaru WRX Rides On A New Platform
The 2015 Subaru WRX graduates from last year's carry-over platform onto a version of the same chassis that underpins the recently-redesigned Subaru Impreza. While the general dimensions of the two platforms are the same, the Subaru WRX benefits from an infusion of high strength steel in order to improve overall stiffness, as well as a number of suspension changes that better accomplish its sporting mission. Driving the two cars back-to-back reveals a night-and-day difference in handling and steering response, as well as greater road feedback befitting a performance car. Even with the upgrades, however, the new WRX is more compliant in daily driving than the model it replaces, which is an important achievement for Subaru's engineering team.
02. The 2015 Subaru WRX Offers More Modest Styling
Whereas past versions of the WRX came with unusual styling cues such as the famous bug-eye headlights, the 2015 Subaru WRX is a much cleaner-looking affair. In fact, with its barely-there deck lid spoiler out back keeping things a secret from behind (if you don’t catch the quad exhaust tips lurking under the bumper), the easiest way to identify the new Subaru WRX is by its hood scoop air intake and more aggressive front bumper treatment. Although there are very few body panels shared between the standard Impreza sedan and the WRX, at first glance it's easy to see the direct DNA link.
03. The 2015 Subaru WRX Is Available Exclusively As A Sedan
You might have noticed in the preceding paragraph that we specifically referenced the Impreza sedan as closely resembling the 2015 Subaru WRX. That's because, for the very first time, the Subaru WRX is only available in a four-door edition - there's no hatchback model currently on offer, and none in the cards for the near future, either. The reason for dropping the hatchback from the WRX lineup was a financial one, as Subaru couldn't afford to invest in two significantly reinforced chassis with unique styling for each. The decision was made to pour everything into the sedan to make it as competent as possible, even if that meant ignoring the fact that historically, WRX sales have been split evenly down the middle between four and five-door body styles.
04. The 2015 Subaru WRX Swaps In A Fresh Turbo Four
The 2015 Subaru WRX sees a significant modernization of its drivetrain thanks to the installation of a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The unit replaces last year's 2.5-liter mill and adds direct fuel injection in order to produce similar power with a smaller displacement. All told, the Subaru WRX boasts 268 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque, and this output is delivered earlier and smoother when compared to the more peaky performance of the now-departed 2.5-liter. This replacement engine is shared with the Forester XT, although there have been numerous tweaks made to the WRX edition to give it a more sporting, higher-revving character than when found in the SUV.
05. The 2015 Subaru WRX Gains An Extra Forward Cog
Helping drivers take full advantage of the new engine found in the 2015 Subaru WRX is a six-speed manual transmission. Devoted Subaru WRX fans will be elated to discover that the previous generation's long-standing five-speed manual gearbox has relegated to the dust heap, and in its place the six-speed manual offers better control over the sedan's turbocharged power band as well as a much more precise feel when moving from one cog to another. A six-speed tranny pushes the WRX to another level in terms of its street credibility, and it also helps the car offer an improvement in fuel mileage compared to 2014.
06. The 2015 Subaru WRX Re-Introduces An Automatic Option
It's been a long time since it was possible to order an automatic transmission with the WRX. The 2015 Subaru WRX goes one better by offering not a traditional autobox, but a continuously-variable automatic option lifted once again from the Subaru Forester XT. Like the Forester XT, the CVT found in the Subaru WRX can be set to Sport and Sport Sharp modes, each of can simulate stepping through six and eight gears, respectively, by way of steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. Unique to the WRX, however, is a launch control feature that, once engaged, pegs the engine's RPM at full boost and takes full advantage of the car's all-wheel drive system to shoot the car to 60-mph in the neighborhood of five seconds.
07. The 2015 Subaru WRX Still Comes With Standard All-Wheel Drive
All-wheel drive has always been a hallmark of the Subaru WRX, and the 2015 model is no different. The 2015 Subaru WRX offers two different all-wheel drive systems, dependent on which transmission is selected at ordering time. Those who stick with the car's six-speed manual get a 50:50 torque split front and rear, managed by a viscous center differential that can shuttle power to either axle as needed. CVT-buyers are given an all-wheel drive system that uses an electronically-controlled clutch to move power front and rear as conditions warrant. Both versions of the WRX feature a new torque vectoring system that employs the front brakes to help the car pivot through corners, improving turn-in to the point where Subaru claims it surpasses even the BRZ sports coupe.
08. The 2015 Subaru WRX Delivers A Much-Improved Interior
The 2015 Subaru WRX makes a leap forward in terms of the quality and presentation of its interior. Gone are the sub-par plastics and questionable switchgear that plagued almost every edition of the Subaru WRX up to this point, and in their place is a mature cockpit that offers a modest, yet nicely-styled dashboard that even includes an LCD display for monitoring boost levels and other vehicle data. Plastics are softer to the touch than they were in 2014, and Subaru has elected to make an upscale stereo system available for those who want more than the utilitarian audio interfaces that have been part and parcel of the WRX experience for so long.
09. The 2015 Subaru WRX Can Be Had In An STI Model
The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is still very much on the table, and while it, too, benefits from a similar chassis redesign, stiffer suspension tuning, and fresh styling as the standard WRX, it hews to the status quo when it comes to its drivetrain. The Subaru WRX STI carries forward 2014's 2.5-liter, 305 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a motor which also makes 290 lb-ft of torque. Further separating the WRX STI from its entry-level sibling are bigger brakes, a big rear wing, and the automaker's Driver-Controlled Center Differential technology which allows for pilots to decide how much torque should be sent to the front and rear axles. The 2015 STI also gains a Track mode for its stability control system.
10. The 2015 Subaru WRX Is Still Affordably Priced
10. The 2015 Subaru WRX Is Still Affordably Priced
The 2015 Subaru WRX starts at an MSRP of $26,295, a sum that puts it directly in competition with other turbocharged compact cars like the Ford Focus ST (MSRP $23,624), Volkswagen GTI (MSRP $25,915), and Chevrolet Camaro (MSRP $23,555). Of course, there aren't really any other high performance all-wheel drive sedans at the Subaru WRX's price point, unless one includes the aging Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, which gives the Subaru a four-seasons advantage that none of its competitors can offer. Opting for the STI is significantly more expensive: you'll fork over $34,495 to sample its high tech charms.