LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Just like the other small cars coming to market these days, the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX is more spacious and more refined. But the good news is, the 2015 WRX still knows how to play rough, and it’s got a 268-hp engine and trick, new all-wheel-drive hardware to prove it.
Just like the Camaro or the Mustang, the WRX is a car that means business, and everyone knows it. Even as Subaru’s sports sedan has become roomier, more sophisticated and even safer, this is still a car for drivers who aspire to more than just an all-weather commute sled.
Sure, there will probably be some sort of surcharge on the WRX’s car insurance because you’re driving a car that says performance really matters. But if you’re a real WRX guy, you’ll wear it like a badge of honor.
More power from the growler
The 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder under the hood of the 2015 Subaru WRX is based on the engine found in the 2014 Subaru Forester, but a full complement of performance hardware ensures that it delivers the power you expect. A twin-scroll turbocharger delivers boost smoothly across a broad range of rpm, an air-to-air intercooler keeps the boost from wilting when the engine gets hot, variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust cams broadens the power band, and direct fuel injection permits a relatively high compression ratio for a turbo engine of 10.6:1 for quick throttle response. The bottom line is 268 hp @ 5600 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque @ 2000-5200 rpm.
There are two transmission choices, a six-speed manual and a CVT. The six-speed’s wide-ratio gear set delivers better fuel economy than the former five-speed manual without sacrificing acceleration. The CVT delivers a smooth delivery of power (but not better fuel efficiency than the manual transmission), yet it can be manually shifted with paddles on the steering wheel to deliver either six- or eight-speed shift modes.
The transmission you pick determines the hardware you get in the 2015 WRX’s all-wheel-drive system. With the six-speed manual in place, the center differential remains a viscous-type center coupling that defaults to a 50:50 split of torque front/rear, then adjusts depending on wheel slip. The CVT is matched with a center coupling that combines a planetary gear set with a fast-acting hydraulic clutch, and it defaults to a 45:55 split of torque and then adjusts according to information from an array of electronic sensors.
The big news here is the addition of torque-vectoring hardware, which directs more power to the outside tire in a corner, forestalling the onset of the understeer that can make awd cars feel sluggish and unresponsive.
A bold new wrapper for all the good stuff
There’s a new platform underneath the 2015 Subaru WRX. The wheelbase is one inch longer at 104.3 inches overall, and you can see the way in which the A-pillar of the greenhouse has been pushed forward nearly eight inches. The car feels notably more spacious than before, with higher seating positions, nearly two inches more rear-seat legroom, and even doors that open wider.
What matters here to a WRX driver is the increased use of high-strength steel, which delivers a stiffer overall structure, something that helps make a car feel more substantial and more precise to steer. Of course, the steel also makes this a safer package in a crash, and Subaru has further enhanced safety here with the addition of a driver-side knee airbag. The suspension features struts in front and wishbone-type control arms in the rear. The17-inch wheels are standard and carry 235/45R-17 94W Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT tires. As with other compact cars these days, the WRX also has electric-assist steering.
The 2015 WRX’s bodywork is pretty dramatic, and its hood, front fenders, rear fenders, and rear doors are unique to this model, as are the headlights (LEDs for high-grade trim levels, halogens for the rest) and LED taillights. The WRX measures 180.9 inches in overall length, 70.7 inches wide and 58.1 inches tall. And it weighs 3267 pounds with the six-speed manual and 3433 pounds with the CVT.
Apparently even grown-ups drive WRXs
Just as you’d expect, some fancy comfort-and-convenience stuff comes in the 2015 Subaru WRX, like automatic climate control as standard, keyless ignition with push-button start as an option, and a zippy 440W 9-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system with navigation and Aha smartphone tech. The sunroof is even an inch longer than before.
But we suspect that you might be more interested in the tilt/telescopic, flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also the new instrument displaynow features a central, 3.5-inch LCD display for various functions, including the rear backup camera. Soft-touch upholstery is found throughout the cabin, and there’s a good assortment of cubbyholes for your stuff. We like the seats because the headrests can be adjusted separately for both height and tilt.
Subaru promises us that we’ll be behind the wheel of the 2015 WRX in just a few weeks, so we’ll report back soon.
2015 Subaru WRX
- Spring 2014
- $27,500 – $29,500 (est)
- 2.0L boxer-four, 268 hp, 258 lb-ft
- 21/28/24 (6-sp), 19/25/21 (CVT) City/Highway/Combined