Know what I like? I like having my cake and eating it too. Everyone has different tastes and needs. Here are mine: Give me a searing, high-performance sports car I can take to the track that growls like an animal and chokes onlookers with the stench of burning rubber.
Inside, I need a comfy heated drivers seat, room for two car seats in the back, and a hatch with 60/40 split rear seating.
Obviously I’m talking about the WRX-STI hatchback right?
Guess what, ego and alter ego—no cake for you!
The new 2015 WRX, WRX/STI chassis is a complete redesign, with changes to the chassis so radical it is no longer a souped-up Impreza. Only the roof and the trunk are shared.
But there is no hatchback available. No. Hatch. Back. Canadians must fit hockey bags into our AWD cars! Why Subaru, why?
“FHI [Fuji Heavy Industries] wanted to develop a single body they could perfect instead of splitting the engineering efforts into two chassis which would have totally different developments in terms of handling,” explained Peter Wendel, Assistant Manager of Product Planning at Subaru Canada. He is obviously not apologizing.
Yes, if you’re going to pick a body type to focus on based strictly on engineering sensibility (and totally ignoring hockey), the more enclosed sedan type body is the obvious choice over the more open hatchback. We must be satisfied with the 340 L trunk. The tradeoff is what Wendel calls a “staggering improvement” in handling.
Indeed the new chassis’ torsional rigidity has increased by 40 percent, and bending rigidity by 30. “There’s less flex where there shouldn’t be flex compared to all the previous models … the suspension does all the work,” Wendel said.
The STI I drove handled with point and shoot accuracy, had fantastic feedback from the wheel and drove like it was on rails—far more refined than you’d expect for the price. It felt heavy, substantial, poised, and then I gave her the beans and at that point I had to ask, “How crazy am I?”
The STI is beastly fast. Though the 2.5 L, 4-cylinder boxer engine with high-pressure turbocharger is a carryover from last year, it has been retuned and delivers 305 hp at 6,000 rpm, with 290 lb.-ft. torque at 4,000 rpm. This 1,527 kg car can reach 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 264 km/h. That’s faster than $10,000 to $20,000 more worth of BMW or Audi.
The 6-speed transmission that comes with the STI from the dealership is the same one that will be sent to the 24 Hours Nürburgring this year. According to Wendel, the STI you get at the dealership this year will be 80 percent of the car going to combat the Green Hell.
Part of the rationale for separating the WRXs from the Impreza is to ensure that many of the improvements Subaru enthusiasts would make aftermarket now come factory standard.
Unlike some prepackaged “racecars” this car is a totally doable commuter with comfy heated seats. The car is definitely rigid and handles beautifully, but potholes won’t loosen your fillings.
If you are not planning on taking your car to the track even once, why not just get a WRX? It’s got the same great chassis, and a brand new 2.0 L twin-scroll turbo engine with direct injection that delivers 268 hp at 5,600 RPM and 258 lb.-ft. of torque between 2,000 and 5,200 rpm. Turbo lag has been pretty much banished and one can’t overstate the benefit of the WRX’s 9.8/7.0 L/100 km mileage numbers.
After my aggressive spin in the STI, I got 15 L/100 km, so the WRX is clearly both less expensive to buy and to operate.
Though the WRX has a different steering setup (which I have yet to test), it’s still a Subaru, so you can expect visceral feedback from the steering wheel. Oh yes, and it can still go from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds.
What you probably aren’t expecting from a Subaru is good looks, but that’s now why people buy them. And contrary to belief, the WRX is not just a car for teenage boys.
“The demographic on the vehicle is quite wide. It has a very good following, from teenagers all the way up to guys in their early 40s,” said Don Flores, Leasing and Financial Portfolio Manager at Willowdale Subaru.
And yes, he sees some women too who are especially interested in WRXs with automatic transmissions. This year the CVT is offered for the WRX, garnering more female inquiries.
Is the lack of a hatchback hindering sales? Not according to Flores, who notes that the 2015 models were pre-selling since January. Almost everything being delivered to Willowdale up until June is already sold.
WRX pricing starting from $29,995
WRX-STI pricing starting from $37,995