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2015 Subaru WRX First Look

Reimagined Performance Sedan Keeps the Faith for Enthusiasts

Alex Nishimoto
Nov 20, 2013
Since its introduction in the U.S. in 2002, the Subaru WRX has been an enthusiast staple. Expectations couldn't be higher for the newest model, and Subaru gave us a taste of things to come earlier this year with the WRX concept. Now, the 2015 Subaru WRX has been fully revealed at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show, and things look promising for the successor to the famed rally special.
Auto Show Floor Update: Yeah, yeah, the new 2015 WRX may have an optional CVT, but with a minor power bump, new six-speed manual, and handling lessons learned from the BRZ, the new WRX promises to be better than ever. The WRX really looks sharp in the metal, with many styling cues from the NYIAS concept carrying over. The new interior, while lacking the center-mounted tach, is worlds better than the outgoing car.

The new Subaru Legacy concept is just that, a concept. That said, it looks as if Subaru has learned a few midsize sedan lessons from Mazda and Ford, perhaps realizing that you can build a family sedan that is both fun to drive AND nice to look at. - Christian Seabaugh
Photo 2/26   |   2015 Subaru WRX Front Three Quarter
The 2015 Subaru WRX is based on the current-gen Impreza sedan's body, and, as you might expect, features a similar profile. The WRX, however, gets a unique hood, rear doors, rear quarter panels, headlights, taillights, bumpers, and front fenders. Those fenders receive the characteristic flares, while the model's distinctive hood scoop is set more deeply to improve visibility. The front end vaguely resembles that of the concept, with the hexagonal grille jutting out past the headlights. Those headlights maintain the basic shape of the concept, but don't get the same wild, 3D LEDs. A C-shaped LED accent envelops the main lamps within the housing, which utilizes full LED low-beam lights on higher-trim models and halogens on others. Subaru says the front end look is meant to "evoke a raptor's stare."
Of course, you can't have a WRX without a turbocharged flat-four engine and a performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system, and the 2015 model delivers on both fronts. Subaru borrowed the turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder from the Forester XT, and employs a high 10.6:1 compression ratio, twin-scroll turbocharger, and the Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System. The engine gets different camshafts and higher-rate valve springs, among other upgrades unique to the WRX, to bring output to 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which peaks between 2000 and 5200 rpm. That represents an increase of 3 hp and 14 lb-ft of torque over the previous-gen model's turbo 2.5-liter.
Photo 9/26   |   2015 Subaru WRX Interior
A six-speed manual transmission, the first-ever application in the WRX, is standard. All previous WRX models were available with five-speed manuals, and Subaru says the new transmission provides a wider ratio spread and features carbon synchronizers on first and second gears. In place of an automatic option is an available Sport Lineartronic CVT. As the WRX engine is related to that of the Forester turbo, a CVT makes sense from a logistical standpoint, but the choice may puzzle many enthusiasts as continuously variable transmissions aren't typically known for being sporty. To those doubters, Subaru says that the Sport Lineartronic CVT has been "engineered to enrich the performance driving experience," while maintaining the smooth, fuel-efficient characteristics the transmission type is known for. When in Sport Sharp mode, the CVT automatically shuffles through eight pre-selected stepped gear ratios, and the driver can choose from six- and eight-speed manual shifting modes using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. CVT-equipped models also feature the Subaru Intelligent Drive system, which allows the driver to customize the driving experience by choosing from three modes, including Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp.
Each transmission gets its own version of Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system. Manual-equipped models receive a viscous coupling locking center differential that splits torque 50:50 front and rear in normal driving conditions, and applies power to the wheel with the most traction when the Vehicle Dynamics Control system detects slippage. CVT models come exclusively with a Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) version of the all-wheel-drive system, which utilizes a planetary gear-type center differential and electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to distribute torque. In most situations, the VTD splits torque 45:55 for a rear torque bias and better handling agility. The system constantly adjusts torque distribution based on the driving conditions and input from steering wheel angle, yaw, and lateral g-force sensors.
Photo 10/26   |   2015 Subaru WRX Gear Shift Knob
The 2015 WRX rolls on a set of aerodynamically optimized 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/45R17-size Dunlop Sport SP Maxx RT high-performance tires. Electric power assist steering was used, and combined with the tires, sport-tuned suspension, and stiffer chassis compared to the outgoing WRX, the electric steering system yields response that Subaru says was benchmarked against some of the best-handling sports cars. The body features more high-tensile-strength steel than the previous model, and uses special stiffening elements.
The improvements continue inside the new WRX's cabin, which is more spacious thanks to a wheelbase that's an inch longer than the outgoing model's. The dashboard is lower than before, and a higher seating H-point combined with lower door sills and doors that open wider contribute to easier ingress and egress. Almost 2 inches of legroom have been added in the rear, and the larger trunk also benefits from standard 60/40 split folding rear seats. Automatic climate control comes standard, while hands-free keyless entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a nine-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio system, and navigation with Aha smartphone integration are available as options. Soft-touch materials are used in the dash, door trim, and center console armrest.
Photo 17/26   |   2015 Subaru WRX Rear Three Quarter 03
A flat-bottom steering wheel comes wrapped in leather, and features audio and Bluetooth controls along with tilt and telescoping adjustment. Behind that is a dual-gauge cluster layout with a 3.5-inch central LCD screen, which can show oil level and selected gear. A new 4.3-inch LCD screen placed high and inset in the center stack can display a boost gauge, rearview camera feed, audio info, climate control settings, or VDC functions like traction control. Drivers can take in all this info from the comfort of the "Whiplash-reducing" front sport seats, which come standard covered in high-grip fabric but are available in leather. An eight-way power adjustable driver's seat is also available.
The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive formula that has served the WRX well for more than 10 years appears to still be intact with the 2015 model, but we'll have to wait until we can drive it to see if it's a worthy successor -- and to find out if a CVT is an appropriate option for the performance car.



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