So, are the Internet trolls right? Did Subaru ruin the WRX this time around--or did it just build the best WRX yet? We have some answers for you in this Motor Authority video road test of the redesigned 2015 model.
Here's a big part of what makes a bone-stock Impreza a WRX. The 2015 WRX gets a new turbo four it shares with Subaru Forester XT, The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2014. With direct injection, a twin-scroll turbo and intercooling, the engine is rated at 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Want more power? The WRX STI sports a 2.5-liter four and 305 horsepower.
The WRX's six-speed manual transmission has one more gear than before, and it has first- and second-gear carbon synchros that don’t mind a little slam-shifting. But if you're thinking daily driver, there's an option--and it's a controversial one, a continuously variable transmission. Yep, a CVT. It's actually one of the better pulleyboxes we've driven. It has Sport and Sport Sharp modes and simulates an eight-speed automatic if you want. It's almost as quick as some of the good dual-clutch gearboxes.
We're still going to take the manual. It has a simpler all-wheel-drive system that splits the power 45:55 front to rear, but can change that setup when a wheel starts to spin.
Fire up the WRX, crack off some 0-60 mph runs, and the WRX drops the kind of performance that makes fanboys lifelong drivers. The WRX hits 60 miles per hour in about 5.4 seconds--quicker than a GTI or a Focus ST. All the while, it's sticking to the road with ungodly grip. The electric power steering is good enough--there's not much feedback but it cuts in quickly. And if you're thinking about some track time, the stability and traction control systems have a few different defeat modes.
The WRX's brakes need some attention, though. They're numb, and have too much pedal travel.
The WRX wouldn't be our first choice as a commuter car. The ride's a little tight for daily driving, and gas mileage isn’t terrific. The manual is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Opt for the CVT and you’re looking at 19/25 miles per gallon.
Then there's the look. It hasn't moved much past its Impreza roots. The boxy fenders and hood are new, and the wing is big, but the WRX still looks like a hundred bucks dressing up ten grand of hardware. Oh, and the hatchback is gone--Subaru says it won’t be back, either.
The cockpit's a good place to work. The touch points are nicer, the controls aren't scattered. It's functional to a fault, with some silver paint glamming up lots of black plastic. There's more room, at least--about two inches more leg room in back, and a little bit more trunk space.
At about $27,000 the WRX comes with some useful gear--a flat-bottomed steering wheel, Bluetooth, and steering-wheel audio and phone controls. A rearview camera is also standard and is displayed on a 4.3-inch LCD screen that doubles as the boost gauge, CDC monitor, and audio readout. It’s not the best camera setup, but it gets the job done.
We'd buy the optional power driver seat, heated front seats, the sunroof and pushbutton start. But, man, does Subaru's navigation system make us appreciate our smartphone. The Subie system is underdeveloped, with lots of tiny touchscreen buttons. Unfortunately it's the only way to get 440 watts of Harman/Kardon sound and Aha smartphone connectivity, so you're stuck with it. Trust us: Google Maps to the rescue here.
So what's the bottom line with the 2015 Subaru WRX? It's not any quicker than before, but its beautifully balanced handling and spot-on steering are better than ever.
For more information be sure to read our full review of the 2015 Subaru WRX here; and if you can't make up your mind between the WRX and its WRX STI sibling, you need to check out this analysis of the differences.