DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Here it is, finally: A Subaru WRX I could live with day in, day out. It seems like every previous generation WRX had the right ingredients on paper but then delivered all the refinement of a used Trabant. They’ve always been fun, sure, but there were a lot of sacrifices required to get that boost.
Not so the 2015 WRX. It’s no Bentley inside, but Subaru has crafted a comfortable, airy cabin that blends, shall we say, “durable” materials with soft-touch trappings and attractive perforated leather seating surfaces. Buttons and switches feel solid to the touch, doors ditch the tin-can hollowness, and the entire package feels designed from the ground up to be a cohesive performance car rather than the “hey guys, let’s stick this giant turbo on an Impreza!” effort of previous models.
Some enthusiasts may be wary of the WRX growing up, but it’s misplaced. There’s still plenty of Subaru weirdness and digital gadgetry here. The information display between the gauges delivers very little actual information, for example; the real info display is on top of the console, adjusted by a different toggle switch. Don’t confuse those two displays with the stereo head unit display, though… It’s all slightly maddening, but once you’ve learned where to look for your data, it works surprisingly well.
So does the powertrain, one place the WRX has always gotten pretty much right. Subaru combines a delightfully direct six-speed manual with its boosted flat four and the result is addictive on-boost acceleration. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to -- keep your foot out of it and the WRX will putter along like an Impreza (delivering mid-20 mpg fuel economy, too). You’ll want to use it, though. From about 2,000-5000 rpm, the Rex squirts forward with a whoosh of boost like the old-school on/off turbo cars of yore. With just 2.0 liters of displacement, it’s not vision-blurring acceleration, but it’s perfect for blasting around town without risking your driver’s license. More importantly the WRX delivers its turbo torque to all four wheels avoiding the nasty steering behavior of its FWD competitors.
I loved it -- it’s got dry weather and snow driving capability, real room for four (and their luggage), it’s tons of fun on side streets yet reasonably quiet and easy to drive on long stretches of highway and it comes with enough bells and whistles to keep technophiles happy. I can’t think of a better all-around choice for $31K than the 2015 WRX Limited.
The interior of the 2015 Subaru WRX Limited is a far cry from the old plastic dungeon.
What is it?It's stiffer, less racy-looking and perhaps just as homely as its predecessors. Maybe homelier. Or perhaps just less outré than some, less subdued than others. It's the 2015 Subaru ...
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Wow. That’s the most glowing review from Andy I’ve ever seen! And it’s nearly warranted.
This 2015 Subaru WRX Limited is great. The body looks well tailored, the hood scoop is nicely restrained, and without the wing, it almost blends in. The little flare at the rocker panels is a cool touch, too.
The interior is slightly stepped up from the last model. I like the faux carbon fiber bits on the dash. The whole monochromatic motif looks great. The back looks to be a decent size, too. We squeezed five in for lunch recently without much complaint.
Like all WRXs, this car is a blast to drive. Not as high-strung as the WRX STI, which could be a good thing. Power comes on extremely smooth, way better than the last model. And I actually thought it was much easier to launch quickly. Though I heard some others disagreeing.
It doesn’t seem to lose steam at higher rpm like the last one did, either. The last car was thrilling up to about 5,000 rpm, then it kind of died; this one keeps pushing.
Shifts take a little tact, though shift action is pretty smooth. The clutch has a small slip point, but it’s nice and low in the stroke. Full throttle changes still take practice, though.
Steering and handling feel about the same as the last model, both about a seven on the tightness scale, which is about perfect. It’s not taxing in normal driving, but it’s direct enough for an autocross day. I didn’t feel like the suspension beat me up, either.
This is a great car all around. Is it the best value at $31K? I don’t know, I guess it depends on what you want. It’s definitely a four-season car, and good for the northern states. It’s probably a hoot in dirt or sand. If it’s not the best at $31K, it’s close.
The 2015 Subaru WRX Limited is a near-perfect street machine.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: The new 2015 Subaru WRX does indeed deserve all the praise for the leap forward in the interior department that the guys above mention. No longer is the cabin a hard plastic dungeon that creaks like an old hardwood floor. Instead, the majority of the dash is constructed from a rubbery material and the overall design is much more open with better sight lines out. The WRX Limited we have here also adds leather, which may or may not be a bonus to you.
But what’s more noteworthy to me is the chassis. The pervious generation car was lacking there, which definitely put a damper on how fun it was through corners. That and the softer suspension, loose steering and not-so-great tires that Subaru installed at the factory. Now the platform is more robust, the suspension has been tidied up, the steering tightened and the car rides on some good rubber now, too. All those changes make for a WRX that’s more engaging from behind the wheel, but is still plenty forgiving for daily driving.
Over my weekend with the car, I hustled around some winding roads and found its capabilities to be near-perfect for a street machine. It’s has great reflexes, changing directions quickly and offering lots of stick through corners thanks to the Dunlop tires. Steering feels is satisfyingly direct with some weight tuned in. Body roll is well controlled, too. All that, while still providing a ride quality that isn’t harsh but is well suited to smooth out small to medium-sized road impacts.
The new direct-injected 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder deserves some praise, too. I have no complaints about boost lag or it running out of steam at the top of the rev range. It’s a lively engine with good throttle response and pulls strongly everywhere. And it’s nice to see a six-speed manual, which is an upgrade from the five-speed box in the old car. Being a Subaru manual, gear engagement is silky smooth, but it’s a far cry from the really crunchy manuals in the first WRXs to make it to the U.S.
Subaru has a quality piece here in the new WRX. It’s exactly what this car should be -- equal parts performance machine and regular commuter. If you regularly find yourself at a racetrack, then maybe the WRX STI is something you should consider upgrading to. However, if you have most of your fun on the streets, then the WRX is going to be plenty for you.
Gear engagement in the 2015 Subaru WRX Limited six-speed manual gearbox is silky smooth.
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: Stiff and snappy. The 2015 Subaru WRX Limited is a blast, and our tester was no slouch. The turbocharged flat-four provides more than enough power to all four wheels. And it pulls some serious momentum through the corners. Having had very little seat time in a WRX beforehand, I was rather impressed with the steering and overall handling. The manual gear-shift wasn’t up to par for my liking due to a little too much play inside the gating, but it still managed to rip through the gears. The six-speed is a far better alternative than the CVT, in my opinion (I’m a manual fanatic).
We had the opportunity to take our test mule out to Michigan International Speedway and put it through its paces. Getting the WRX up to speed was a workout for both the car and the driver. Redline shifting, quick shifts and a bunch of other abuse were forced upon the WRX, but it took the beating like a champ. Although we did notice a rather hard slam from some drivetrain component as second gear was greeted with a rather hard shift, it was never more than a noise.
Cruising around town was a treat. The car looks great, much better than the last-gen Impreza WRX, and the new style lines seem to grab attention.
The interior is just, well, meh. It serves a purpose, but it isn’t horrible. The road noise is a touch more than I would prefer, but it allows a real feel to this little rally car.
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