By Mike Hanley on November 20, 2013
Competes with: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, Ford Focus ST, Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Looks like: The Impreza sedan hit the gym
Drivetrain: 268-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: 2014
The WRX is a Subaru icon and for the 2015 model year, it has been completely redesigned. Based on the latest generation of the automaker's Impreza platform, the WRX gets new performance technology, all-new styling and a smaller turbocharged engine that's more powerful and more efficient.
Though the 2015 WRX is based on the Impreza compact sedan, it gets quite a few unique body panels and trim pieces. The scooped hood, bulging front fenders, rear doors and quarter-panels are new. The bumpers and lights are unique, too. Subaru says the headlights "evoke a raptor's stare"… we'll let you be the judge of that.
On base models, those headlights use a halogen design while uplevel versions have LED low-beam headlights. The taillights also use LEDs, and a lip spoiler is available. The blacked-out 17-inch alloy wheels wear Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT P235/45R17 tires.
Subaru says the new WRX is roomier, has better visibility and is easier to enter and exit. It has the same uncluttered dashboard design as the Impreza, but it incorporates performance-inspired elements like a flat-bottom multifunction steering wheel and front sport seats covered in high-grip fabric.
A 60/40-split folding backseat and automatic climate control come standard. Available features include leather, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, keyless access with push-button start, a power sunroof, Harman Kardon premium audio and a navigation system with Aha-based smartphone integration.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine powers the WRX. It's rated at 268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm. The engine features a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, and it draws air through the hood scoop, past an intercooler. Premium gas is required.
The engine teams with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an available continuously variable automatic transmission. The CVT can mimic the feel of a traditional step-gear automatic with eight predetermined ratios and also lets the driver "shift" using steering wheel paddles. Subaru gas mileage estimates are 21/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined with the manual and 19/25/21 mpg with the CVT.
The WRX has a new torque-vectoring system designed to reduce understeer, and two all-wheel-drive systems are offered. Manual-transmission WRXs have a viscous-coupling locking center differential and a 50:50 front-to-rear torque split that varies depending on which wheels have traction. The CVT's all-wheel-drive system uses an electronically controlled hydraulic clutch and planetary-gear center differential. The system monitors driving conditions, steering angle, yaw and G-forces when varying torque distribution, which is normally 45:55 front-to-rear.
There are seven airbags, all-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, all-speed traction control and active front head restraints.
Click on any image for a larger version.
Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike