2015 Subaru WRX: Around the Block

Patrick M Hoey

This is the latest in our new series of short-take reviews, in which we concentrate on a car or truck with a powertrain or trim level not previously detailed. –Ed.

Subaru fans are among the most passionate in the automotive community, and they’ve had a lot to say about the new 2015 Subaru WRX. That’s why we’re diving into one of the biggest conversations surrounding the latest iteration of Subaru’s rally standby—its new six-speed manual versus its continuously variable transmission option.

Car folks like to hate on CVTs, because this type of transmission is usually used in sluggish economy cars with a mind for maximum efficiency. Although the mechanism's lack of traditional gears improves fuel consumption, CVTs have a reputation for being loud, whiney, and tiresome to live with. It’s not surprising, then, that the thought of a CVT in a performance car like the WRX is anathema to Subaru enthusiasts. Guess what? Blasphemous it may be, but this Subie is still a riot — with or without a clutch pedal.

At higher throttle openings and in the sportiest “Sport Sharp” driving mode, the 2015 Subaru WRX’s CVT mimics the shifting of a regular automatic. “It certainly doesn’t equal a manual in terms of driving engagement, but it does a damn fine job of imitating a good, traditional automatic,” says digital platforms editor Jen Misaros. Even with the CVT, the WRX feels like a bona fide performance car with slingshot-like acceleration, direct steering, and a rewardingly rigid suspension.

As expected, the six-speed manual adds a whole new dimension of fun. Shifts are notchy, aggressive, and immensely satisfying to perform, and clutch take-up feels sharp and grabby. The best thing about the six-speed 2015 Subaru WRX is the persistent temptation to hoon it out — once you lay into the throttle and hear the turbocharger's jet-like whistle, engaging the boost becomes an itch you just love to scratch.

For people who want the capability and performance of a WRX but don't drive a stick or want to deal with manually shifting in city traffic, the CVT is a reasonable alternative. What fans should really bemoan is the lack of a hatchback option, which could end up costing Subaru a lot of buyers. “It's probably for the best,” associate web editor Evan McCausland reflects. “This much fun and five doors? I'd be throwing money at it the day it went on sale.”

2015 Subaru WRX Limited (CVT); 2015 Subaru WRX Premium (6-speed manual)

Base price $27,090
As tested $28,495/$34,490 (Manual/CVT)
Engine 2.0-liter turbocharged H-4
Power 268 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque 258 lb-ft @ 2000-5200 rpm
Transmissions 6-speed manual/continuously variable transmission
Drive 4-wheel
Cargo 12.0 cu ft (rear seats up)
Fuel economy 21/28/24 -- 19/25/21 (city/highway/combined -- Manual/CVT)
ON SketchTV
My car sketch channel!! welcome!!
GP Vignesh
gud design
Nordine Bribos
il faudrait les mettre en prison les designer de subaru
John Kurtz
@gingerheadman13 That's quite a lovely shade of blue to be true! #subielove
Amazigh Amazigh
Nice car
@gingerheadman13 sti?
@JaneGPhoto I am in love with it. If only I had $30k laying around somewhere. Makes for a nice baby hauler ;-)
Eric Glueckert
So much for the CVT improving the MPG of the car, it seems like it ruins the car instead of help, manual FTW.
Robert May
Cvt's are the death of cars.
Ron Sinclair
That decision was more than likely market-driven. As long as they don't kill the manuals outright, it doesn't matter if they offer a CVT model, IMO.
WTF.  This article didn't tell anyone anything that other CVT reviews didn't already mention.  And the whining about the lack of a hatch...getting very old, no matter if you're a hatch lover or not.  The lack of a hatch is not relevant at all to the review subject.  Bottom line:  worst article I've read in quite awhile.  
Anuranjan Kumar
In my fav colour #BLUE
Ron Sinclair
WTF....this FB post is very misleading. I saw no mention of "back-to-back" comparing. One could come to the same conclusion as the review just by driving the CVT along (and having experience in driving any manual car). The review didn't tell me anything about the WRX CVT version that I didn't already know. The worst part was the dig about the lack of a hatch...really? WTF does that have to do with the CVT sedan? Not a thing.
Rob Eckaus
Drove the CVT and really enjoyed it! It was quite a surprise!
Ernesto Ponce
legendario auto de competencias de rally....hermoso!
Tim Lucas
Noooooo!!! Not a CVT!!!!
Bill Northcut
Not a fan of cvt's..... rather take the 6spd manual, in the wrx
Brian Weiss
Sure, until you get a speeding ticket. And another one. And another one. And... ;)
Being a Subaru fan I am still a little disappointing in this version or the WRX. However, this would be one of the cars in Subaru's lineup I would consider, especially for the performance you get for under 30K. Not a big fan of CVT's either, but again I didn't have any problems with the one used with the same engine on the new Forester XT.  CVT's do seem to work better with higher torque engines, and the noise associated with cars such as the Altima, Sentra, Impreza do not seem to be noticeable in more powerful options such as this WRX.  I have driven the Maxima a few times, and the CVT works with the VQ35 rated 290 HP just as well.
Biju Varughese
This is huge mistake by Subaru, why put CVT transmissions when they have solid transmission already from previous generations. Nissan is plagued with problems with CVT. CVT are not engaging, I'd rather they increase the gears than put a CVT
@dWL253 nah just the WRX. The STI is nice, but I don't need a racecar (as if I was getting this anyway) #unlikely #dreamcar @subaru_usa
@gingerheadman13 hahah Give us that Resume and we'll get you that $$ jkjk
@gingerheadman13 Mitsubishi is bringing back the EVO.
@gingerheadman13 I wonder why it has a hood scoop up top. Thought only sti's had that.
@JaneGPhoto very rough draft sent to G-man last night :-p
@dWL253 that must have been what I heard. The EVO is the only Mitsubishi I ever see on the roads anyway
@gingerheadman13 though it will be the last time
@dWL253 Coolio
@gingerheadman13 Mitsubishi is bringing it back for their anniversary
@dWL253 I thought the lancer/EVO was done? No?
@dWL253 I'm sure there is a purpose. Looks cool tho :-) more airflow is always a plus

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