Where’s the hatchback? That’s really the only question fans of the Subaru WRX will be asking. Short answer is there is no hatchback…..for now….
However, all that money that Subaru used to develop the WRX has been very well spent. Everything is better with this car, and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. They’ve buttoned down pretty much all the problems I’ve ever had with the WRX. While I do wish they kept the hydraulic steering and the direct mechanically linked transmission, they have done a fantastic job with the electronically assisted steering giving it a quicker ratio than the outgoing model and the cable shifted transmission still feels pretty damn good with quick notchy and precise shifts.
Steering inputs are met with quick results, while not being overly sensitive. It goes where you want it to, and doesn’t have any real dead spots or play on center. The thick flat-bottomed steering wheel feels great in your hands, and really communicates well with the chassis. One new feature that the 2015 WRX has is something called Active Torque Vectoring. This basically will apply brake pressure under hard cornering to the inside front wheel to help the car rotate which helps keep the car feeling more neutral. This all helps give the WRX great balance and handling, keeping it very flat around corners. I wasn’t able to push it as hard as I would have liked due to the fact that this car was fitted with winter sport tires, so you could feel the limitations of the tires under hard cornering, but you could tell that the car had a lot more to show you.
With the previous generation WRX, Subaru had tamed the suspension down a little, making it a little more compliant, which sacrificed some of the handling characteristics that you expect from an AWD sports sedan. For this generation, they concentrated on making the WRX more on target with its rival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the way the new WRX handles, but those looking for the older generation’s slightly more cushy ride will be disappointed. The ride is stiff. However, the faster you go, the more comfortable it gets. Around town, if you live in areas riddled with potholes and uneven surfaces, your back will hate you, as well as probably your passengers. If there are multiple undulations in the road, the ride does get a little bouncy, but never uncontrollable.
Now, onto the engine. An all-new 2.0l direct injected boxer four has been developed for this generation, which harkens back to Subaru’s WRC days, as well as the introduction of the WRX to the U.S. shores, but boy is it a much different engine. The new 2.0l engine doesn’t have much more horsepower than the outgoing 2.5l engine, but it gains 3 more horses putting it up to 268. Torque is also up to 258lb-ft. The direct injected engine gives much better mid-range torque giving all 258lb-ft starting at 2000RPM and continuing right up to 5200RPM, but what it gains in mid-range torque it loses up top in the upper range of the RPMs. Not many people will be racing around town higher than 5200RPMs, but it’s a noticeable drop in power once you pass that point, especially if you’re used to the extra oomph of the larger displaced 2.5l engine, but that’s nothing perhaps a little aftermarket tuning could cure. Throttle response is very good, perhaps a teensy bit touchy, but overall perfect for having some fun.
Subaru has never been known for their luxurious interiors, and the new WRX still won’t be known for that, but one thing Subaru does get right is functionality. Compared to the last generation WRX the interior is a huge step up. There are nice soft touches all around, and the plastic bits don’t feel overly cheap. The layout of all the controls are easy to use, and all within reach. The faux carbon fiber on the dash isn’t terrible, but it would have been nice if it was either real, or perhaps be given the option to have it as a brushed aluminum look as well. The seats were very comfortable, while still offering good support and side bolstering for sporty driving.
I hope you enjoy the sounds of the engine, because the stock stereo is terrible, one thing that Subaru has never really been great at. Although they do offer a Harmon Kardon option, which I would certainly recommend if you want to have a somewhat decent stereo. The only other gripes I had was the lack of some of the more convenient features like automatic door locks, as well as an auto up/down function on all the windows, and not just the driver’s. These are two things that I feel should really be standard equipment on cars in this price range.
The exterior is going to leave you loving it, or hating it. I personally think it looks great. The lines are nice, the front end looks aggressive, and while the wide-body looks subtle, it gives it a nice hulking look to it. Sure, many people will say the front looks like the current EVO, but is that a bad thing? I think the front end of the EVO looks fantastically mean, but the Subaru pulls it off a little softer, and a little more elegantly. But those stock wheels! Not sure what Subaru was thinking with that one, but it’s easily curable now that the WRX and STI share the same bolt pattern, so wheel swaps are easily doable now.
Is the new WRX the best WRX ever? The short answer is yes. The long answer, is also yes, yes it is. The new WRX picks up where the old WRX left off, and makes it nearly the perfect car for fun that money can buy, the only thing that could make it better would be to add a fifth door.