By Cars.com EditorsApril 9, 2014
About the video
While the performance faithful may consider it blasphemy that Subaru put a continuously variable automatic transmission in the 2015 WRX, it isn't without its redeeming qualities.
(upbeat music) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for cars.com here with the new 2015 Subaru WRX. Now, for years, the WRX to performance car enthusiasts, has always been a symbol of performance and all wheel drive at a reasonable cost.
That remains the same here for this 2015 redesign, which shares its platform and most things with the fourth generation Subaru Impreza. We've had a chance to drive it, so buckle up. We're going to talk mostly about that. On the hood here, is a functional hood scoop. It funnels air to the intercooler for a two liter turbocharged four cylinder. The first time since 2005, that the WRX has not had a 2.5 liter turbo four cylinder. But gearheads fear not, this has a lot more technology now. Direct injection, variable valve timing on both the intake and the exhaust side versus the port injected 2.5 liter engine that had valve timing only on the intake side. Add it all up, horsepower about the same here, 268 horsepower in the new WRX versus 265 before. Torque though, now up to 258 pounds feet, from 2000 all the way up to 5,200 RPM. That's a nice increase versus last year's 244 horsepower at about 4,000 RPM. Not too bad for a car that's only about 60 pounds heavier than its predecessor, Subaru says. So all of that begs the question is the WRX still quick? Well, yes, it definitely is. Nice chunk of power from three all the way to five, 6,000 RPM. Unfortunately, our test car has Subaru's optional automatic transmission. It's a continuously variable automatic, and I know a lot of you're gonna start burning your Subaru effigies for putting a CVT in the WRX. It does suck away some of the fun. A driver selectable SI drive, Subaru Intelligent Drive system comes in the WRX. It's got three modes, it's got intelligent, sport, and sport sharp. Now in intelligent and sport mode, you do get some of that soupy kind of non-linearity that comes with a lot of CVTs, sort of that rubber band effect. It takes a little while to kind of wake the engine up from its sleepier stages and get it where the RPMs are kicking a little bit higher. Sports sharp though, actually reverts to what is supposed to simulate an eight speed automatic transmission. Actually feels like a pretty good eight speed at that. It holds through eight different fixed gears. Downshifts 2, 3, 4 gears at a time if you need to. A pretty fun way to drive, kind of the only way to drive. It might be contrived, but you know, it's the best way to experience this CVT. There are six gears that intelligent and sport try to hold, but they only engage when you've been pressing on the gas pedal hard enough, 30, 40% down throttle, depending on which mode you're in. Around town, you don't get much of that. Still kind of that soupy CVT feel. Ride quality has its ups and downs. Subaru says it stiffened the springs, the shocks and the bushings versus the last WRX. This car definitely rides firm, but not objectionably firm, if you're driving around on fairly smooth pavement especially, it's fine. It cushions out undulations pretty easily at higher speeds. It can bounce around through some potholes and certain other areas. All wheel drive standard, obviously on the WRX, it's a 50:50 viscous coupling, if you get the manual transmission. With the automatic, it's an electronically controlled coupling that pushes a little bit more default power to the rear. Our test car has winter tires, which don't actually have a lot of grip. Obviously you'd expect that in winter tires. They're a little bit noisy too, but overall pretty good balance in this car. You can kind of toss it around as much as you want. The rear steps out, it's fairly controllable. It's easy to kind of slide out on all fours and quite a bit of fun, actually. The WRX shares its cabin with the fourth generation Impreza, pretty good cabin materials, but a very conservative design, starting to look a little bit outdated, especially in certain areas, like the doors here. Still very easy to see out of though, thanks to a large windshield, tall side windows, and very narrow pillars. One little annoying thing here, this center armrest here feels a little bit low, especially if you sit up high, you kind of wish that your elbow would fall more naturally to it. It's a few inches lower than you would expect. These seats though, bolstered sports seats in the WRX. They hold you in during corners. They're very comfortable on long trips. Editors really liked them. The 2015 WRX comes only as a sedan. There's no more hatchback available. Starting prices are around $27,000, including destination. That's just a few hundred dollars more than the outgoing WRX. Now, if you tack on a few options, that price can get very high very fast, but still for its base price, WRX remains a bit of a performance bargain. Consider that the Mazda speed three, the Volkswagen GTI, those competitors start very close to $27,000 from their previous generations in very recent years. Mazda will almost certainly redesign the speed three based on the third gen Mazda3. And we have a seventh gen Volkswagen GTI coming into VW dealerships in just a few months. Still, right now, the WRX does make a bit of a performance splash in this sort of cheap speed segment here. Though, maybe not with the CVT automatic transmission. Fortunately there is a standard six speed manual transmission available in the WRX. Call us a little old school, but we think that's the one that we'd start shopping first. (car speeding off)