(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2015 Subaru WRX STI (Premium Variant): Track-Tuned For The Road

If you are interested in purchasing a Subaru WRX STI and other Subies, scroll down to see more details. 

If you want a 4-door compact sedan that is practical to use everyday, has the blistering performance of a sports car, and has the World Rally Championship heritage to back its blistering performance, you always had two choices. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, or the Subaru Impreza WRX STI. With the death of the Lancer Evolution, however, you’re now left with only one. This, however, has actually opened up competition to other manufacturers offering high performance cars with AWD powertrains in other parts of the world, such as the Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS, but basically in the Philippines, Subaru monopolizes the segment right now, and it’s still the go to car for tuners and fans who want a rally car for everyday use. With a strong following thanks to a host of video games such as the Playstation game Gran Turismo, and movies such as The Fast and The Furious, will people looking for an Evo eventually give in to Subaru?

Exterior

Starting with this generation, Subaru wanted to separate the WRX and WRX STI from the Impreza line-up, and have a line-up of its own, so if you think we had a typo when we did not mention “Impreza” in the title, it’s because of that. Perhaps rally bred also may be a wrong term now, because starting with this generation of the Impre… err, WRX STI, Subaru has focused instead on the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race, which is also no bad thing since rarely do car enthusiasts race these cars on the dirt road anyway. This had led to a look that looks more race car than rally car. A longer wheelbase than the Impreza makes the car feel more stable. The front and rear axles have been widened to provide better cornering, hence the widened wheel arches, with the integration of side gills at the front wheel arches for better aerodynamics, and the 18 inch BBS forged alloy wheels look really great. Inside those forged alloy wheels hide some powerful Brembo brakes. This being the Premium variant, the large rear wing has been deleted, making for a more subdued and “elegant” WRX STI, so they say. Do we miss it? Yes, and no. Yes, because it created the distinction between the friendlier WRX and the more hardcore WRX STI, and no because it makes the WRX STI more of a sleeper. Many people such as me appreciate high performance cars that only give small hints on its performance capabilities, but if you do miss the rear wing, just purchase an aftermarket spoiler, or the standard WRX STI, which unfortunately will delete some of the features found in this Premium model, but costs P100,000 less.

Interior

If you’ve been on any other Subaru lately, then the interior won’t wow you in any sort of way. Sure, it has Recaro sports seats, carbon-look interior trim, splashes of red, an STI shift knob, and more STI badging around the cabin, but apart from that, it’s any other recent Subaru we’ve been in. It is a good or bad thing depending on where you’re coming from, but nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to be. The interior has an ergonomic layout, with all controls laid out in a logical manner. 2016 models now include Subaru’s new touchscreen infotainment system with soft capacitive buttons around the screen. The interior is pretty much okay, with soft touch plastics on top of the dash and the door, and body hugging Recaro sports seats that keep you in place under hard cornering. If you’ve noticed in the pictures that the steering wheel’s leather is worn out, it’s because this is the same WRX STI used by stunt driver Russ Swift, which he uses to perform his stunts every year at the Manila International Auto Show.

Space and Practicality

For such as car in this performance caliber, the interior practicality is no different from any other typical sedan. Door bins are available on all doors and the front ones are big enough to hold a liter of bottled water, and there are just enough nook and crannies to place your items in. The back seats are spacious enough for 2 tall adults and 1 smaller adult, due to the large transmission tunnel eating up foot space for the middle passenger. The middle seats are also raised due to the AWD drivetrain, making taller adults suffer as a consequence. On the other hand, there’s a spacious trunk that’s cavernous enough for most trips to the supermarket.

Features and Safety

The Subaru WRX STI is equipped with automatic LED headlights with LED positioning lamps, LED tail lights, rain sensing wipers, smart key with passive entry and push button start, Bluetooth Audio and Telephone, 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, power folding mirrors, rear view camera, SI Drive (drive mode selector) a color multi-information eyebrow display that features information such as fuel economy, and where the AWD system sends power to, which is pretty fun to watch, and other features that are typically seen in cars nowadays. 2016 models now have a touch screen infotainment system that can display information more cohesively and looks a lot more modern than the 2DIN radio system that is used in this 2015 model. In terms of safety, the Subaru WRX STI comes with ABS with EBD, traction control, and the AWD drivetrain has the capability to disconnect the engine when there is a front collision, preventing the engine from intruding the cabin and reducing the risk of injuries.

Powertrain

The Subaru WRX STI is powered by the EJ25 boxer engine. It’s a carry over from the previous generation with modifications made for better refinement and reliability. As ever, it produces 305 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 470 Nm of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Contrary to most turbocharged engines nowadays, peak torque is still at a higher rpm, rather than spread evenly across the rev range, making the driver truly ring the most out of the engine to extract all of its capabilities. Power is sent through all four wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission, the only transmission available.

How It Drives

The Subaru WRX STI’s platform is heavily different from the Impreza, another reason why the Impreza name was dropped. The WRX STI has a longer wheelbase over the Impreza for better stability. Added chassis bracing and a revised suspension over the previous generation should ensure flatter cornering and supposedly, a more civilized car to drive.

Pushing the start button emanates a burble that is distinctly Subaru. Sound tubes are added into the car’s structure, pumping in certain levels of engine and turbo noise into the cabin, further amplifying (no pun intended) the driving experience. The boxer rumble is present as ever, and its sound is a dead giveaway to onlookers that what you are driving is a Subaru WRX STI. Escaping the outskirts of Alabang and into Daang Hari, we stumble upon ourselves a surprisingly refined driving characteristic especially compared to past WRX STIs. The wide tires and large 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels let in road noise, but not to the level we were expecting. Leaving the Si Drive in intelligent lets the car sort itself out, but this does not make the suspension softer, unfortunately. As expected, the ride is very firm, and on bumpier roads, the ride can get really tiring, but we’re mainly driving on smoother road surfaces, so if you daily commute means traversing through these kinds of roads, then the WRX STI won’t be an annoyance.

Out on clearer sections of road, we flick it to Sport# (Sport Sharp, not Sport Hashtag) to bring out the best that the WRX STI can unleash, and with that, we’re not disappointed. On lower revs, the WRX STI tends to be sluggish, but once the turbos spool, the car delivers blisteringly fast acceleration times. With a quotes time of 0-100 kph in 5.2 seconds, the Subaru WRX STI is anything but slow, and slushing through the gears prove to be really fun, however, the worn out clutch of this specific Subaru WRX STI that Russ Swift has used in his stunts can be very awkward to use in traffic or parking. The car corners pretty flat and understeer has been dialed down, making for a more engaging drive. Upon finding a closed section of road, we were able to even extract more out of the WRX STI, and the car continues to impress. The clutch, brake, and gas pedals are positioned nicely enough to perform heel and toeing. Keep the revs up, and the Subaru WRX STI’s throttle responds with lightning reflexes that ensures neck braking performance when the roads permit. It’s also quite surprising how dialed in the outside noise is even at very high speeds. Speed is scrubbed well by the powerful Brembo brakes, which are designed to be capable of handling immense braking on the track with minimal fading.

On The Downside

Going back once again to public roads, we begin to notice some of the Subaru WRX STIs weak points. The engine sure sounds great, but there’s never a point where it becomes quiet enough for most people, and over time, it can become tiring as the engine rarely fades into the background. It’s never an issue for us, but for some who wants something quieter, it may prove tiresome. Consequently, the stiff suspension also means a stiff ride, and while the ride is relatively okay on the roads we’re in, on bumpier roads, the WRX STI can become really tiresome. Lastly, as our drive mostly concentrated on high speed driving, fuel economy is measly, at 4.5 km/l, but treat it more sensibly, and 6 km/l in the city is still possible, and 11 km/l in the highway is achievable.

Verdict

The Subaru WRX STI can be your friend or foe depending on where you’re coming from. If you were to ask us, the WRX STI is our friend, since it’s basically a 4-door sports car. Despite the annoyances of having a high performance car, on the kind of road conditions we live in, the annoyances are just minor niggles. If your daily commute includes driving on EDSA, then the WRX STI may just prove to be an annoyance. Either way, the WRX STI has always catered to a specific set of people such as us who desire performance. The saying goes, “why fix what isn’t broken”, and the WRX STI, even if it delineates from the Impreza nameplate, continues the recipe that the Impreza WRX STI has soldiered on for the past 20 years, but with improvements to further make the recipe a much more delightful experience, and everyone of course wants a more delightful experience. Will Lancer Evolution fans give in to Subaru? Well, these people tend to be loyal to their brands, it’s going to be hard to tell, but some Evolution fans have expressed dismay over the Evolution X, which was too friendly to drive due to its sophisticated AWD system and dual-clutch transmission. For these Evolution fans looking for a much more raw experience, then the WRX STI should suffice.

More Photos

Price: P2,598,000

Our Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Practicality:  ★★★★☆
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★★
Handling: ★★★★★
Comfort: ★★★☆☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

A special thanks to Subaru Alabang and Subaru Manila Bay for providing us the Subaru WRX STI. If you are interested in this Subaru WRX STI and other Subies, contact Lloyd Mendoza (0927) 280 9933 for more information.