2015 Subaru WRX, the sharper tool: Motoramic Drives
There are cool cars, and then there are cult cars. Cool cars — like, say, the Volkswagen GTI — are admired by the masses. Cult cars are loved — obsessed over, really — by a fanatical few. And as far as cult cars go, few can top the Subaru Impreza WRX.
Crafted from the econocar bones of the humble Impreza and pumped up with a raucous turbocharged engine, rally-bred all-wheel drive system and zoomy body modifications, Subaru’s scrappy little WRX has spent over two decades picking fights with many sports cars costing twice as much. And it often wins, especially when the weather gets nasty.
Early on, Subaru sold the WRX (and its even gnarlier STI variant) only overseas, where the popularity of rally racing gives the WRX a built-in market. But a groundswell of demand for the WRX eventually prompted Subaru to import the WRX to these shores in 2001. Now, nearly 80 percent of all WRXs are sold in the United States.
We bring this up primarily to explain why Subaru dropped the WRX hatchback for its all-new 2015 redesign. Previously, the WRX sales were about half sedan, half five-door hatchback. But according to Subaru, limited engineering resources forced it to choose one style, and since Americans generally prefer four doors to five, the hatch gets the ax. This will certainly disappoint many WRX fans whose contrarian spirits make hot-shoe hatchbacks particularly delightful propositions; to them, we say wait another year or so until the next-gen STI appears, which we suspect will return to hatchback form.
Or they can swallow hard and get on board with the new WRX sedan, which is so much fun to drive that they may not care what the cargo hold looks like.
Indeed, Subaru’s “limited resources” have turned out a WRX so thoroughly transformed that it seems closer to the outgoing STI screamer than the previous WRX. The new structure is 40 percent stiffer, thanks to liberal use of high-strength steel and aluminum, with additional bracing beyond the already stiff Impreza. Year-over-year weight gain has been kept to just 60 pounds.
The transformation continues with a new 2-liter, directly injected turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine that pumps out 268 hp at 5,600 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 through 5,200 rpm (up three ponies and 14 lb-ft from last year’s 2.5-liter engine).