On November 20th, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Subaru finally spilled the beans on its new 2015 WRX. Key words of the presentation were “power” and “handling.”
Under the sharply creased hood lies a new-to-the-WRX 268-hp 2.0-liter boxer engine with Subaru’s own direct-injection system (a similar engine made its debut in the 2014 Forester XT.) Peak power hits at 5,600 rpm, with enough torque to make even hardened tuners giggle: 258 lb.-ft across a broad 2,000 to 5,200 spectrum. MPG figures have yet to be announced, but they should improve on the outgoing model’s 21mpg combined EPA score.
Buyers will have a choice of either a six-speed manual transmission (!!) with carbon synchronizers on first and second gears for added durability, or a revised CVT that can also emulate either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed ‘box. The CVT also includes paddle-shifters, naturally. Here’s one particularly interesting side-note: only the CVT models get SI-DRIVE.
Subaru says this new model is a major step for the line, and to back that up they’ve equipped it with a Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) all-wheel drive system. This uses a planetary gear-type center differential and an electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to control front-and-back power distribution. Under most conditions the system is rear-bias (55%) to lend a RWD sportscar feel. Power transfers based on driving conditions and input from the steering wheel angle, yaw and lateral g-forces, much like the system currently used on the STI… although, here’s the kicker, this fancy AWD system will only be standard with the CVT transmission.
Should you select the 6-speed manual, you get the good ‘ol viscous differential with a straight-up 50:50 split. Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) is included, however, to assist with slippery conditions and to transfer more power to the wheels with the best traction. Still, doesn’t sound nearly as fancy as the VTD setup.
There has been much discussion online already about the styling. And, frankly, it’s all been heard before. Anything with four doors and four wheels is derided for being too much like a Toyota Corolla. Move on, people. Though not revolutionary, the WRX’s design is a decent step forward in Subarus design language. It has some nice elements, like the running light surrounds over the halogen projectors (sorry, no HIDs). Yes, the WRX Concept set the bar for style ridiculously high. If you squint just right you can even kind of see them in the production car… kinda.
The interior is a solid step forward with tasteful applications of faux carbon fiber and decent quality plastics. It’s also roomier thanks to the 2015 WRX’s one-inch longer wheelbase. The gauge cluster is updated to look more like current models, plus the steering wheel has a flat-bottom, this along with drilled pedals give the interior a decidedly tuner feel right out of the box.
In the past Subaru said that moving forward the WRX would be unique from the Impreza. Keeping up their end of the bargain the hood, front fenders, rear doors and quarters, bumpers, headlights and taillight clusters are all unique to the WRX. The underpinning chassis? Naturally, it’s related to the excellent unibody found under the standard Impreza. This new body does use more high-tensile strength steel than the outgoing model, and key areas have been stiffened to help with handling.
Speaking of handling, stock tires are now 235/45 R17 94W Dunlop Sport Maxx RTs. Plus the steering has been revised and suspension tuned to make this the best handling WRX, ever.
Enjoy this exclusive mega-gallery from Yujiro Otsuki, who was on the scene.
Subaru official photos: