Engine: 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder with 305 HP, 290 lb-ft.
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Fuel economy: 17 MPG City, 23 MPG Highway
Price as tested: $38,190
Ding dong, the Evo’s dead…
You might have heard that Mitsubishi is canceling its all-wheel drive street fighter and that means Subaru’s WRX STI is about to stand in a segment of one (cue the fireworks).
Conveniently, it’s also in contention to be the 2015 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year. Unlike the new WRX, Subaru’s hottest product retains the 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder it had in 2014. Output remains the same as the past generation with 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque, but it is far from unchanged.
This time around Subaru did away with the hatchback model, opting to sell the STI exclusively as a sedan. Rather than splitting development costs between two body types, Subaru focused its development budget on making the sedan as stiff as possible and choice gave birth to the most potent product ever to wear the star-spangled badge in this market.
It comes equipped with three drive modes: intelligent, sport and sport sharp. Throttle response is relatively dull in “intelligent mode,” but by the time you cycle up to sport sharp it feels like the powertrain is punching at its hardest as soon as you touch the gas.
The new STI is a blast to drive, but it has downsides. The powertrain is loud and the cabin doesn’t do much to keep road noise out. It doesn’t come with much of a stereo to talk about and the optional touch screen is among the worst on the market.
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None of that really matters because nobody buys one of these cars because they are comfortable or luxurious. It’s all about hardcore performance and for the most part that’s what this car delivers, but it isn’t perfect.
The steering wheel has a spectacular on-center feeling and the car feels especially nimble as you turn it because of an especially quick steering rack. But something strange happens in particularly tight turns. After a certain point, the steering response is suddenly vague and the wheel feels like it goes limp, losing all the precision that make the STI feel like such a finely tuned performer.
Is that enough to knock it out of contention for the 2015 Car of the Year award?
GALLERY: 2015 Subaru WRX STI