Reviews

2015 Subaru WRX Walk Around

With no five-door model in the lineup, the 2015 WRX can lay claim to sophisticated sedan styling, if not elegance in this hotrod. Sophisticated in an edgy sort of way, that is. It defines bold and aggressive without exaggerating it. It's got a new dark hexagonal grille and deeper front spoiler, with standard 17-inch wheels that emphasize the wide stance. The windshield is considerably raked, with the bottom of the A-pillar eight inches farther forward than before.

The front profile is rakish, with the grille flanked by narrow headlights designed to evoke a raptor's stare. The foglights are set in faux carbon fiber, with nearby vertical mesh vents. The functional hood scoop that flows air to the turbocharger intercooler is lower and more low-key than before, and provides better visibility.

All the sheetmetal is new for 2015: hood, fenders, rear doors and quarter panels, plus the headlights. Rear LED taillights, center brake light, and lip spoiler complement the styling.

The STI is another animal. If the WRX struggles to be subtle in its styling, the STI shouts to be stared at with its super-aggressive sheetmetal including a humongous rear wing reminiscent if not quite as high-flying as the 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

Interior

That one-inch increase in the wheelbase for 2015 yields two more inches of rear legroom. The raked and narrowed A-pillar and lower dashboard increases visibility, although a half-inch of headroom is lost from a higher seating position, as overall height of the car is unchanged. Lower side sills and wide doors ease climbing in and out of the car, as does the new and way cool flat-bottom steering wheel, with switches for audio and Bluetooth.

The view from the 2015 WRX driver's seat makes you feel part of the world, makes you want to wave to the fans on the sidewalk giving you thumbs-up at the cruise-in. Especially if you're in an STI, with that humongous rear wing instantly gaining admiration especially from teenage boys. However the coolest thing about the wing is looking under it, through the rearview mirror. It's like looking under a bridge. Visibility is not hampered one bit, unusual for high-performance cars that typically have poor rearward visibility.

You can hear the traffic on the bridge. Well, that's what it sounds like in the STI, with road noise being pretty high from the 245/50R18 summer performance tires. But anyone who buys an STI won't much worry about it.

The trunk increases from 11.3 cubic feet to 12.0, while the standard 60/40-split fold-down rear seat enables the WRX to carry things like half a dozen 2x4s, if you're willing to stack them on the center console.

The standard seats in our WRX were excellent, maybe the best ever, so, importantly, the $26,295 base WRX is eminently enjoyable. The seats are covered in a new high-grip fabric and feature adjustable whiplash-reducing head restraints.

Meanwhile the leather seats in our $37,395 STI Launch Edition were fantastic. One brief and curious note, inseparable from seat comfort: The suspension in the STI is rock-firm at all times, but never rock-hard; while the suspension in the WRX is softer but hits rock-hard on speed bumps, and you feel it through the fabric.

Overall the materials in the 2015 WRX models are richer, with soft-touch for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest. There are plenty of cubbies for things, and good door pockets. On the Premium model, the alloy pedals, red stitching on the leather-wrapped shift lever, and faux carbon-fiber on the center stack are nice touches.

The center stack holds a 4.3-inch LCD screen to display all the vehicle functions, including the rearview camera, audio (on non-navigation models), Bluetooth, and climate control.

In the STI, the instrument layout features a 3.5-inch LCD central screen to display various functions, including arcane info such as how much washer fluid remains. It also tells you what gear you're in, even with a manual transmission. There's also a boost gauge and center differential information, as if there's ever much need to know or use that perpetually moving information.

It's all so busy, both on the center stack and over the steering column. A whole lot of red numbers and lines on the speedo and tach. Bars too, although the white digital speedometer is good. But sometimes there's so much information on display that it can be bewildering and/or distracting. WRX and STI are not alone with this issue.

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