Subaru’s most revered performance model, the WRX STI, has long appealed to the hell-bent, redline-seeking enthusiast. Satiating the Subaru faithful just two months after the arrival of the new WRX, the much-anticipated 2015 Subaru WRX STI will debut at the 2014 Detroit auto show alongside a 1000-unit limited-run STI Launch Edition model, featuring Subaru’s classic WR Blue color scheme and gold-painted, 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels.
Powering the redesigned 2015 Subaru WRX STI is an updated version of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged boxer engine from the outgoing STI. It is good for 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a reinforced six-speed manual gearbox. Although the powertrain remains unchanged, it would be a mistake to dismiss the latest STI solely on that basis.
The 2015 Subaru WRX STI rides on a new chassis that uses more high-tensile steel, which Subaru claims is stiffer and even more agile than the outgoing STI. Compared with the new WRX, the STI has a slightly more responsive steering ratio and improved lock-to-lock turning—2.5 for the STI versus 2.8 for the standard WRX. Carrying over from previous STI models is the inverted-strut front suspension system, which is combined with a host of new performance handling technologies and an upgraded braking system.
Symmetrical all-wheel drive is paired with a driver-controlled multi-mode center differential and vehicle dynamics control system, both of which offer a range of selectable modes to custom-tailor the 2015 Subaru WRX STI’s performance. The center differential uses three automatic modes that employ different degrees of locking, while the manual mode offers the driver a variety of six locking options.
Choices don't end there, though, as the vehicle dynamics control system has three settings (Normal, Traction, and Off), each offering respectively lower levels of traction control intervention. Normal and Traction modes both utilize active torque vectoring, which keeps the STI flat and grounded through the corners by selectively applying brake pressure to the inside of the front wheel. Eighteen-inch wheels and summer performance tires are included, as is a Brembo performance braking system that utilizes ventilated four-wheel disc brakes with dual-piston calipers in the back and four-piston calipers up front. Additionally, a center-console-mounted knob allows the driver to shift between three engine performance modes (Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp) that modulate throttle response and engine character.
While some have criticized the redesigned WRX for a tame design that lacks the brashness of previous models, the STI will keep its bold, extroverted looks for 2015 — mesh-screen front fender vents, rear diffuser, and LED low-beam headlights, taillights, and rear stop-lamp join the massive signature trunk spoiler.
The Subaru WRX STI will only be offered as a four-door sedan, with exclusive deep-intake hood scoop, body kit, and headlight and taillight clusters that set it apart from the regular WRX. Thanks to the one-inch-longer wheelbase and lower cowl and beltline first seen on the WRX, the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI offers the same improved room, comfort and visibility.
Nice New Digs
A welcome touch of refinement is included with the new WRX STI, which offers a standard all-weather package with heated front seats, mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer. Soft-touch Alcantara-upholstered seats with red and black leather bolsters and red stitching add a splash of racing personality, while Bluetooth hands-free and MP3 compatibility also come standard.
The STI Limited includes an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, BBS forged-alloy wheels, automatic headlights, leather-trimmed seats, and a Harman/Kardon audio system. Special black and blue leather-trimmed bolsters and Alcantara seating surfaces, as well as a short-throw STI shifter, come as a package deal with the blue-and-gold themed STI Launch Edition.
Judging by how well Subaru improved the suspension on the standard WRX, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is sure to be a rally-bred riot. Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect it to be just north of the current $35,290 sticker. Whether it’s worth the additional scratch over the plenty-fun WRX remains to be seen.