2015 Subaru WRX STi Review

If too much Subaru WRX is barely enough, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the car you’d crawl over broken glass to get into. But take another look. There’s an obvious question: Has the 2015 Subaru WRX STI has gone soft?

The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is an incredible $10,000 cheaper than before. Although the engine carries over, the 2015 WRX STI has certainly discovered refinement for the first time, later in life. If you’re into performance cars, and not a bogan - the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is a gift from heaven. It’s sophisticated, blindingly fast, and very forgiving. So if your IQ is greater than the room temperature - in Fahrenheit - the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the kind of car you lie awake in bed, lusting after. I know I do. And this new model is an incredible $10,000 cheaper than its predecessor - which means it’s 10 grand closer to jumping out of those half-asleep fantasies, and into your driveway. That's a damn fine scenario.

Minor criticism: Subaru designers, take a note. You need to lay off the STI badges and logos. They’re everywhere. Inside and out. I stopped counting at 18, admittedly because I had almost run out of fingers and toes. But I couldn’t find one under the bonnet, oddly enough. So there’s an unexploited marketing opportunity there - but everywhere else is taken. It’s not as if you’ll need reminding that you’re actually driving a 2015 Subaru WRX STI. It's hardly as if this fact - what you're driving - is not likely ever to slip your mind.

Of course, a car like the 2015 Subaru WRX STI demands a significant rear spoiler. But in reality, I hate these overt towel racks - they’re a joke. Great for attracting (the wrong kind of) attention. They just scream ‘police: book me’. And me? I’d prefer to fly under the radar. So thankfully, for the first time ever you can order your STI without the ridiculous towel rack, as a no-cost delete option. Sounds pretty good to me. I guess it depends if you're buying the 2015 Subaru WRX STI to impress yourself, or to impress everyone else.

You also can't have the 2015 Subaru WRX STI as a hatch - the entire 2015 Subaru WRX range is sedan-only.

The Subaru WRX STI first appeared on Australian shores in 1999 - for $62,500. When you adjust for inflation over that time, using average weekly earnings growth, spending $62.5 big ones back then would be like spending about $114,000 on a Subaru WRX STI today. So, you’d have to say, buying a Subaru WRX STI today for about $50k - because that’s where they kick off. And that means the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is one of the truly great performance car bargains.

The engine outputs are the same as the previous model - 221 kilowatts and 407 Newton-metres, but the driveline has been upgraded. You get active torque vectoring, which the previous model lacked. Overall, though, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is basically the performance you've always loved, plus a huge step forward for refinement and equipment levels. So, in a sense, you could mount a case that the 2015 Subaru WRX STI has gone soft - the hard edge of performance is still there, totally, but it’s wrapped in a level of refinement that you just never got before in any previous Subaru WRX STI

The real story with this fourth-generation Subaru WRX STI isn’t the awesome performance. STIs have always delivered that. It’s a given. The big story is all the extra equipment they’ve jammed into this model, for $10k less. That opens the vehicle up to an entirely new group of potential buyers.

You no longer have to forego all creature comforts to drive a Subaru WRX STI. You get the D-shaped steering wheel, a proximity key with pushbutton start, multi-function display (which is just right for watching the turbo boost while you hit a kangaroo, unless you’re very careful). There’s a beefy sound system with Harman Kardon speakers and amp. I never bothered with that, not for the whole week I drove the car; Frankly, I was happy listening to the engine's fat beats. Sat-nav is standard, there’s a reversing camera, daytime running lights, dusk-sensing LED headlamps with halogen high-beams, rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone climate control.

And then there’s the multi-mode Driver’s Control Centre Differential, which allows you to dial-in centre diff engagement to suit the prevailing conditions.

The cabin is bigger and more comfortable, and it’s much safer - in fact the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the equal top-scoring Subaru ever in terms of ANCAP crash test score. It's hard to criticize a car that manages 35.85 out of 37 in the most severe independent crash tests there are.

Frankly, you could stick the boss in the passenger’s seat and drive to a meeting without embarrassment at the lack of creature comfort. And, you could drive it like a Subaru WRX STI until he signs off on your proposed pay increase. That shouldn’t take too long.

This 2015 WRX STI sounds like a proper performance Subaru, it feels like a proper performance Subaru, and it goes like a proper performance Subaru. But it’s not brutally uncivilised. It’s firm and direct, but you could drive it every day. Only, you’d have to be so prudent if you wanted to retain your licence.

The stopping power is outstanding, thanks to the Brembo brakes. The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is one of those cars that goes fast enough in a straight line, but excels in corners. The transition from grip to slip is very progressive. Nothing jumps out at you, and the car really rewards drivers with finesse. It’s fun to drive fast - hugely controllable; very rewarding.

The only real downside is: if you’re having a real crack in a 2015 Subaru WRX STI, you’re driving insanely fast. The performance potential is, frankly, beyond the driving ability of most drivers. And even if you can drive at that level, if you take it there on a public road, your licence is going to be hanging by a thread. And if something goes wrong, the scenery not going to stop moving before you get to the next postcode. So, in a sense, even if you own a 2015 Subaru WRX STI, you’re not going to be driving it like a 2015 Subaru WRX STI ... at least, not if you know what's good for you.

Some cars just get mocked, in traffic. Spend a week driving a Mitsubishi Mirage and you’ll get that. When you drive a 2015 Subaru WRX STI: doesn’t happen. Even HSV and FPV bogans give you a certain grudging respect. Especially when you overtake them on the outside, in the wet, which can be quite therapeutic.

Nobody mocks 2015 Subaru WRX STI, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get mocked. The sad truth is: the 2015 Subaru WRX STI will probably mock you. You chuck it into a bend. You think you’re having a real, red-hot go. Mid-corner, it kinda looks back at you and says: ‘Is that all you got?’ It’s humbling. And scary. And humbling. And scary. But mainly it’s just totally engaging and absolutely awe-inspiring.

Criticisms? Well, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is manual-transmission-only, so your girlfriend might not be able to drive you home after a few drinks, depending on her. Personally, though, and not just because of the added post-inebriation GF chauffer flexibility, I’d love to see a CVT in a 2015 Subaru WRX STI, because the CVT in the garden-variety 2015 Subaru WRX is just so good. I’d buy one. That car changed my view on CVTs forever. And maybe they could just cut the total number of STI logos down to just 10 or 12 - or eight. It’s logo overkill at the moment. You need to take your shoes off to count them. And there's no hatch.

But the main problem with the 2015 Subaru WRX STI was: I had to give it back. Saddest day of the year so far: the day Subaru came to take the WRX STI back. And, OK, because, after numerous threatening letters they turned up with the Jaws of Life, and the sheriff … ultimately I just handed it over without a fight. But I hate myself now, for being so soft about it.

The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is one of those cars that’s so close to being exactly right for its intended purpose, substantial criticisms just don’t pertain. It feels like a performance car - I guess the average driver wouldn’t like that. It’s kind of irrelevant; you only buy a 2015 Subaru WRX STI if you want a performance car.

The 2015 Subaru WRX STI would be a great car for $60 grand. Only it’s available for just $50 grand - and that just makes it better, or at least more accessible. So: you can either pick up Thor’s hammer, swing it around, or you can drive a 2015 Subaru WRX STI. Those two things probably feel about the same. And there’s no stupid red cape when you play with the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. (Or, maybe there is, but you can delete it at no extra cost if you want...)

Driving the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is like being upgraded to business class. It’s easy to move forward in the plane, but heartwrenching to move back. That’s exactly what giving the WRX STI back is like. Suddenly you’re back in economy. There’s plastic utensils and no more Veuve Cliquot. There’s a screaming baby on one side, and a fat man knitting on the other, and your seat is bang in the middle. All the way to Dubai. And you’re wondering: How do these peasants travel like this?