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Cory Wolfe

Through The Lens: 2015 Subaru WRX STi Launch Edition

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Through The Lens: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition

 

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This is one of those cars that, as I was growing up, was always considered forbidden fruit. After learning of them via Gran Turismo, I lamented the fact that we couldn't buy one. Then, after the start of new millennium, things started to change. Subaru first gave us the WRX with the second generation Impreza; a sort of taste test for the real beast. It wasn't until Mitsubishi sent over its 8th Lancer Evo that Subaru gave us the STI. It's now been over 10 years, and STI's have been a regular sight around my home town for some time. In fact, thanks to the various STI's and the more civilian WRX's, the unmistakable Subaru "warble" exhaust note always gets my attention. Enough with the history lessen, though, let's focus on what we really care about: The drive. 

 

The Good: First of all, I'm happy to report that the STI still retains its distinctive exhaust note. Start it up, rev the crap out it, and just revel in the glory of it. Some people hate it, but I think its fantastic. Once you're finished being a kid and you decide to let the car put that sound to use, you realize just how much they've stiffened and sharpened this latest iteration of the STI. It's surprisingly stiff and turn in is, in a word,  instant. Also pretty much instant: The brakes. This car really stops. Which is useful, as you'll find yourself going much faster than you really intended. While the power-train is essentially unchanged, I really didn't care once I put my foot in it. The surge of power is so massive and torque so plentiful that I wanted to just give it more, more, more. Aiding all of this is a fantastic transmission. There's none of that complicated dual-clutch bull$h!. It's an honest-to-goodness 6-speed manual with short, accurate throws and a great, perfectly weighted clutch. Heel-n-toe in this car was completely natural and allowed for perfect downshifts each time. Screw the photography, I wanted to keep driving. Hell, I should have just taken  it home with me. I'm sure no one would've noticed...

 

Beyond the drive, I have a couple things to note. I'll start with the design, which as we all know, is a fairly subjective matter. Subaru, in fact, would love for me to stop right there and move on. Almost universally, the STI's new looks have received negative comments. This is partly due to a rather seductive concept car Subaru initially previewed it with. It was aggressive with a short greenhouse and exaggerated fenders. This car is not that in the slightest. However, I am here to say it looks much better in the flesh. It's distinctive and has an angry scowl about it. There's still that youthful flare from STIs of past, but it's a more matured, restrained look. Most elements of the design seem to be more about function than outright flash. In my eyes, it looks good... but, let's be honest, I'm probably letting the drive blur my vision. Moving on, inside the STI is what we'd call a massive improvement. The old STI made no attempt at giving you an interior worth the price of entry. Just a pile garbage with some sport seats, basically. Now, there's some actual soft touch materials here and there with the majority of controls having a quality feel. The seats are nearly perfectly bolstered and covered in a blend of leather and suede. The steering wheel feels great in the hands, as well. 

 

The Bad: Okay, so at this point I probably sound like I'm in love with this new STI (actually, maybe I am). That's not completely true as this is not a perfect car. Let's be clear, this thing isn't cheap. After a few options and the limited "Launch Edition" package that adds a few custom touches (Oooh! Gold Wheels!), this is a nearly $40k car. That is f**king outrageous for what is still basically a warmed over Impreza. Okay, it's more than just warmed over, but still, that's a lot of cash. As such, the interior, while being massively improved, just isn't nice enough. The door panels are economy-car cheap. So is the center console, the lower dash, and especially the headliner, which is made from the most luxurious of fabric-covered cardboard. Just lovely, I have to say. To add to that, there is very little sound-deadening and nearly every ounce of road noise makes its way into the cabin. I suppose that can be forgiven considering this car's mission.

 

On second thought, no, no way. Needs less road noise and more warble. Lots more warble. It's too damn restrained and quiet. I'm glad that it hasn't been completely eradicated like it has on the plebeian WRX, but its definitely been toned down a bit. Speaking of the regular WRX and its fancy new 2.0l engine, the STI's carryover 2.5l comes with one pretty big caveat: Immense turbo lag. The old EJ257 engine spools up slowly with the majority of torque coming in around 3k RPM. Depending of what you're doing, you may want to give yourself an extra second or two before expecting the power to be there. The power comes on strong, but boy do you have to be patient to get it. Just don't apply the same level of patience of potholes. You will recall that I mentioned how stiff the suspension is. Let me put it simply: Hit a pothole or patch of road imperfections and you better have a Chiropractor on hand. There is very little give to the suspension and not much for damping. It's rather uncomfortable on Michigan's horrible roads, but that might just be a Michigan thing. 

 

To The Point: The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is a surprise for me. I didn't expect to like it, even as a self-proclaimed lover of turbo'd Subarus. At the end of the day, I'd say the pros far outweigh the cons, but then, I only had about 2 hours with this car. I could be completely wrong for all I know. But, whatever, it's fantastic and I'm sticking to it. Just don't look at the price... Considering stealing it or selling a testicle or two. 

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