Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

The 2015 Subaru WRX STI is the real deal. Ignore the detractors who have yet to drive the new car; it’s not at all a mildly updated carryover.

Subaru truly has raised the proverbial bar with the new STI in nearly every way. With improved handling, increased steering feel and a better interior, it’s quickly become a favorite new sports sedan at the office.

But what is it like in everyday life? What should owners expect with the new Subie? To find out, we spent a week behind the wheel of a new STI, seeing how it handles day-to-day life. Here are five important observations we made during our time with the new WRX STI.

The sound of the WRX STI has always been an acquired taste. While some people love the off-beat boxer engine’s rumble, others find it sounds agricultural – like a John Deere on steroids. For 2015, Subaru hopes to win over disbelievers. Aside from a revised exhaust system that is tuned to be slightly louder and more pleasant, the front of the Subaru now adds to the mechanical symphony.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Review

Thanks to the addition of a sound tube, direct engine noise is fed into the cabin. Aside from a hearty engine growl under hard acceleration, the turbocharger spooling and dumping boost is clearly audible while you play with the throttle. The overall sound level is greater than we expected but by no means too loud or intrusive. It just adds a little more fun to a far more engaging car.

Reports are flying around that the new WRX STI has a ride too punishing for daily driving. Admittedly on the hard side of rough, the 2015 STI is no harsher than other performance-focused vehicles of similar intent. Take the Audi TT-RS, Mitsubishi EVO, MINI JCW or Subaru’s own BRZ; they’re all rougher to ride around in. The ride quality is somewhere in-between normal and sport settings on vehicles with adjustable suspensions like the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Subaru WRX Review

Even when encountering larger bumps in the road, the STI absorbs the impact in one sudden, yet control motion. After a back-to-back drive with a 2014 WRX STI, we find the ride quality has only decreased a fraction, which is a worthwhile trade-off for the improved performance.

Yes, we are dedicating an entire point to cup holders. Why? Because they’re awesome! Staggered in height, it is a rare occurrence for a performance vehicle to not only have usable cup holders, but ones actually suited for spirited driving. The deeper of the two holders will easily swallow a drink as tall as a large McDonald’s coffee and hold it in place while you sling the STI from side to side. No spills, no mess.

Just like in the old model, the center divider can be removed to create a larger rectangle storage section for odd-shaped drink containers, or thermoses with a large handle.

The STI has never been a particularly efficient vehicle and the new one is no different. Even with a 2.5-liter engine, the boost is turned up to crank out 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. A lot of fuel is required to generate this kind of grunt and combined with short gearing, the STI is rated at a mere 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway. After a week of mixed driving that included plenty of spirited romps, we average 19.6 mpg.

Many current WRX and STI owners have written off the new STI based on looks and carryover mechanics. To see what current owners thought of the car up close, we brought the STI to a local Subaru club meet and let them paw all over the car. Many were impressed by the upgraded interior and the extra space for both front and rear passengers.

After taking a few 2012-2014 WRX STI owners for a drive, all came away with the same impression. They couldn’t believe how much more composed the STI is in corners, how flat the ride is and how much grip is available. As one owner said, his mildly modified 2012 STI wouldn’t be able to keep up with the new car on twisting roads. Here’s a friendly suggestion for Subaru’s marketing team: scour the country for Subaru club meets and offer test drives to current owners.

GALLERY: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

Interested in buying a Subaru WRX STI? Check out our new cars section here.

Discuss this story on our Subaru WRX STI Forum.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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