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2015 Subaru WRX: And Then There Was One...

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On: Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 2:25PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2015 Subaru WRX:  And Then There Was One...

It's amazing to think that it has been almost fourteen years since the first WRX hit the US shores and made all of us gearheads yell, "Hey, what took you so long?!" Subaru heard our cheers and decided to unleash the WRX STI three years later, which basically got the entire country enthralled with rally racing. The WRX also inspired Mitsubishi to unveil its own rally racer, the Lancer Evolution. For more than a decade the WRX vs. EVO battle became the modern day Camaro vs. Mustang. Racing improves the breed, and, in that almost decade and a half, the little Subbie has only gotten better with age.

For 2015, the WRX comes equipped to battle with any and all challengers, especially if they want to meet up on the rally course. For better or for worse, the Rex has still retained a lot of its boyish… charm… For some, the only things that matter are tight handling, quick acceleration, and all-around performance. For others, a bit of luxury, plush interior, and a calm ride are up there in terms of priorities. When it comes to the WRX, one of these groups is probably going to be disappointed.

Two options of WRX are still available, as they have been since 2005: The base WRX or the STI. The base WRX comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC flat-4 that pumps out an impressive 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The bigger, badder STI ups the ante a bit with a 2.5-liter turbocharged DOHC flat-4 that pumps up power to 305 ponies and 290 pound-feet of torque. Power is funneled through either a six-speed manual transmission or a less satisfying (and a $1200 more expensive) CVT automatic for the WRX and either a six-speed manual or… Go home… for the more performance-oriented STI. Every WRX is powered by Subaru's now famous symmetrical all-wheel drive, which makes it ideal for those looking for a four-season performer. Thanks to the minimal additions to the STI, aside from a half-liter more of engine, curb weight for the two cars is extremely close with the base WRX coming in at 3,303 pounds (60/40% front/rear distribution) and the STI tipping the scales at 3,367 pounds (at a slightly better 59/41% F/R distribution).

You can have your WRX in three different trim levels: Base, Premium or Limited, and have your STI in either base or Limited trim. The trim levels basically are code for "Which options do you want?" The base WRX will get you a WRX. Upgrade to Premium WRX and that includes a power-tilt/sliding-glass moonroof, while the Limited adds in LED headlights, and leather upholstery as well as the moonroof. The Limited option for the STI also adds the moonroof, leather, as well as BBS alloy wheels (LED lights are standard on all STI models).

Trim levels are nice, but anyone in the market for a WRX is interested primarily in one thing before anything else: Performance for a fair price. The base Rex is a very fun ride indeed. With relatively minimal weight to lug around, the bargain basement model gets up and goes 0–60 mph to the tune of 5.7 seconds on its way to a 14.3 second quarter mile @ 96.1 mph. Around the slalom, the base model pulls a very nice 0.89g and brakes from 60–0 mph in just 112 feet. The STI turns up the volume on just about every level. WIth only a few pounds more to haul around and almost a full forty horsepower and pound-feet of torque, the STI is a performance monster. 0–60 mph comes up in a scant 4.6 seconds and through the quarter mile in only 13.1 seconds @ 104.4 mph. Around the twisties, the STI shows its true dominance, posting a 0.97g on the skidpad. Braking from 60–0 mph happens in only 108 feet (for perspective, an Audi R8 V10 takes 107 feet). Fuel mileage for these two speedsters are definitely related to their performance. The lesser, base WRX shows off its low thirst for fuel posting a 21/28/24 city/highway/average mpg. While the STI is clearly a better performer, it will cost you at the pump to the tune of 17/23/19 mpg.

Driving either WRX is an experience all its own. The short gearing makes this car a very fun ride around corners, but a lot less exciting on long highway stints. It is too buzzy to really enjoy it for any length of time cruising. The interior still leaves a lot to be desired too. It's sporty, but feels lacking in real quality. A revamp akin to what the Corvette did from the C6 to the C7 would be ideal. The exterior is extremely polarizing—it still screams boy-racer, and it is hard to get past that stigma no matter who is driving it, or at what age. The hood scoop is fun, but the excessive cladding and over-the-top rear spoiler is, ironically, getting a bit old.

But a car like the WRX is purpose-built. It has some warts, but others would call them character traits. Price plays a factor, as there is only so much money to go around, Subaru chose to use it on the parts that matter the most. Starting at $26,595 for a base WRX and going up to $39,995 for the STI Limited, the WRX is still one of the best bang-for-the-bucks on the planet. But, there has been a startling development in the rally-car wars. 2015 is the last year for the WRX's arch-rival, the EVO. So now, that begs the question: What will happen to the WRX? Initially, the demise of one's mortal enemy seems like a good thing—WRX sales should soar with no more competition right? Perhaps. But, without any sort of barometer to measure up to, to constantly challenge you, what happens? It's a lot easier to sit on your laurels with no one snipping at your heels. Rocky needed Apollo, Optimus Prime needed Megatron, and the WRX seemed as though it needed the EVO. But 2015 is the last year of the battle, at least for the foreseeable future. And while the '15 WRX is a very nice example of what can come from two sports cars battling for over a decade, we are very interested to see what happens to the WRX without any real competition going forward. Maybe it will make the WRX soft, or maybe it will just make us appreciate the little Subbie even more. Only time will tell.

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