2015 Subaru WRX STI new car reviews

The Impreza WRX STI is back with big turbo power, big brakes, a big wing and big impact. While Subaru has been working to green up their image, they haven’t forgotten those of us who like spitting fireballs and nailing apexes.

The $34,495 performance sedan has taken a step in the right direction with its styling. The proportions work. The thinner A-pillars have been moved forward to improve visibility and make the cabin more airy. The car’s nose has become subtler–dare we say, almost Evo-like–and the STI’s giant wing doesn’t impede upon rearward visibility. (Looking for a less expensive option? The WRX is finally back, too, and retails for about $8000 less.)

The new STI–it’s a 2015 model, by the way–is based on Subaru’s all-new Impreza sedan. Company officials say it’s 24 percent stiffer than before. Thanks to the larger front doors, getting in and out is a breeze.

Trunk room is up, and the 60/40 folding rear seats make carrying a bike or race tires an easy proposition.

The front seats are more comfortable and accommodate larger drivers. The carbon fiber-like trim is tasteful. The 305-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.5- liter engine is largely unchanged–and that’s okay. Subaru claims zero-to-60 times in the 5-second range.

This car feels faster on the street than on track, though, where its chassis begs for more power. The tradeoff for all that handling: increased road noise. We sampled the car in Monterey, California. While having fun on legendary Carmel Valley Road, we didn’t mind the noise as the car dished out everything with ease. We’d call the ride taut yet reasonable.

At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, we found turn-in to be precise and horsepower more than adequate. The exceptional chassis could easily handle another 100 horsepower, however. While gearing was great on the street, we felt confined on track. An additional 300 rpm would have made the STI perfect; instead, we found ourselves cursing the 6700-rpm redline.

Body roll was minimal considering this allwheel- drive street car’s 3400 pounds. The suspension is tuned for just a touch of very controllable understeer, which we could easily power out of with some throttle. While pundits have been quick to complain that the new STI is a bit bland-looking and hasn’t increased in power, we disagree. The additional power will soon be found in the aftermarket, and we prefer the less controversial styling.

Kudos to Subaru for finally building the total package. Its adult styling, class-leading build quality, accommodating ergonomics, reasonable ride quality and tight handling make this a great daily driver that can still excel at weekend track events. We look forward to seeing this practical, reasonably priced sedan at NASA and SCCA events around the country.

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