2015 Subaru WRX First Drive Page 3

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2015 Subaru WRX interior/exterior

The biggest opening for haters is the WRX's body shell. You can fault Subaru for showing off a fabulous concept and then chucking it, as if to say, frankly, we're exhausted by all the work we put into the CVT and steering and suspension tuning. This is the place where a little James Brown would be helpful. James Brown might say he can't go on any longer, but he would. He would work out the exterior until it proved as funky as the underhood. James Brown would come in wearing a cape. Perhaps seven capes.

The WRX comes in wearing hand-me-downs from the Impreza, and that's because Subaru says it's designing it for the first owners who are a little older and more mature than the second owners you see in the stereotypes of WRX drivers cascading through your frontal lobe. It's a refreshing acknowledgement that automotive marketing often aims younger and richer than the real target customer, but it's still disappointing on many levels, like the one in which there's no hatchback model coming at all--it's not even in development.

The WRX isn't strictly a twin of the Impreza, though, it's just unexciting. At least at the front end, the air intakes have never looked quite so massive, or the fenders quite so pronounced. The WRX has its own hood, fenders, bumpers, and lighting to distance it from the Impreza, and also wears a hood scoop that's set more deeply than before and is still functional; LED low-beam headlights are available, and 17-inch wheels are now standard. The front fenders wear vertical vents, the taillights are LEDs, and there's a tall rear diffuser.

Inside, the WRX claims about an inch more of wheelbase, which translates into more interior space in a cabin that's also better-finished than in the last-generation Impreza and WRX. In the WRX, sport seats are specified and are covered in grippy upholstery. A power driver seat is an option, and so is leather upholstery, in case they're absolutely required for your next rally. Versus the last WRX, the new car gains almost two inches of rear-seat leg room, and a bit more trunk space (up from 11.3 cubic feet to 12 cubic feet).

2015 Subaru WRX safety and features

The WRX should carry on with the Impreza's excellent crash-test scores--very good on the NHTSA scale, top-drawer according to the IIHS. It adds a driver knee airbag to its standard-equipment list, as well as adjustable front headrests and a rearview camera. The camera's output is displayed on a small 4.3-in. LCD screen that doubles as a boost gauge display, a VDC monitor, and an audio readout.

It's serviceable, but a prettier display takes over some of those functions when the optional navigation system's installed. We're no fans of Subaru's stabs at infotainment, but the display is bigger, and adds harman/kardon audio with 9 speakers and 440 watts of sound, along with Aha smartphone connectivity.

Among other standard features, the WRX now comes with standard automatic climate control; a flat-bottomed steering wheel that tilts and telescopes; Bluetooth; HD Radio; a single-CD player; and steering-wheel audio and phone controls. Other major options include a power driver seat; heated front seats; a sunroof; and pushbutton start.

The 2015 WRX goes on sale early in 2014.

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