To fully appreciate what the Subaru WRX STI is all about, you must recognize that the WRX itself delivers the kind of performance you would expect of sports sedans costing two or even nearly three times its base MSRP of just over $27,000.
With 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the WRX doesn’t just deliver a lot of bang for a buck, it delivers a lot of bang period.
Now up those figures to 305 hp at a peak 6,000 rpm and 290 lb.-ft. of torque at only 4,000 rpm — for a car that weights less than 3,400 pounds — and you’ve got the WRX STI, a vehicle that is at home in both a competitive or track setting as well as city streets.
The engine that supplies that punch is not your traditional inline four-cylinder but a 2.0-liter, horizontally opposed (or Boxer) turbocharged four-cylinder. A six-speed manual racing gearbox is the only transmission offered, and with the short throws, the driver can quickly work through all six gears in fast fashion.
The driver also has the choice of three different throttle modes. With its gentle torque curve, Intelligent mode is ideal, and more economical, for most conditions. If you aren’t particularly interested in getting maximum gas mileage (an estimated 17 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway), Sport and Sport# step up response and add to the fun of the driving experience.
As with other Subaru models, the WRX STI has the company’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, this one equipped with the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) system that features three automatic modes and six differential locking-control systems that the more-astute driver can set manually.
Driving dynamics are not the only thing that sets the WRX STI apart from its predecessor. In the makeover Subaru gave it for 2015, the STI got a special hood, fenders, doors, quarter panels, bumpers, and headlight clusters with a functional hood scoop up front and a large spoiler on the rear deck.
Its more comfortable inside as well. The larger cabin features Alcantara seating surfaces with red and black bolsters and red stitching, and the new flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel both tilts and telescopes and features switches for audio and Bluetooth operations.
There’s lots of soft materials throughout, but the interior falls just a bit short of luxury when it comes to overall ambiance. Though Subaru dropped the “Impreza” label from their name, and as much a kick they are to drive, both the WRX and WRX STI are based on the Subaru’s compact family sedan that is not big on frills.
The WRX STI comes in three trim versions with the base model starting at $34,290 (including a destination-and-delivery charge of $795 in most states). The Launch Edition (limited to a production run of 1,000 units) and WRX STI Limited carry MSRPs of $38,190 and $39,290, respectively.
Option packages that feature navigation can add from $1,500 to $2,500 depending on what other features (Harman/Kardon audio, keyless access and start) are included.
For a quick look at the 2015 WRX STI and more specs, check out the accompanying slide show.