|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Lately though, the WRX STI has been singing a slightly different tune. It still has a sledgehammer for a drivetrain, but it’s also been attending charm school. The 2015 model for instance packs niceties such as a moon roof, powered driver’s seat, leather interior, automatic headlights, and rain-sensing wipers. Heck, it’s even got 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels. And of course, who could forget: the deletion of the high-rise rear wing. This is all well and good, but who’s Subaru kidding? For all the luxury trimmings it has, the WRX STI isn’t a Lexus or BMW challenger. It’s a WRX STI. So, it’s about time for this bad boy to remove his fancy pants suit and go back to the basics: welcome the winged wonder: the 2015 WRX STI non-premium edition.
For those still yearning for a bit of luxury to go with their rocket ride, you’ll be glad to know that the WRX STI Premium, as it’s officially called now, is still available. But for a hundred grand less (P 2,498,000), you can get the purer experience that’s the WRX STI (without the Premium suffix). Since these two models are just upper and lower variants of the same recipe, the performance aspect remains largely unchanged.
Performance means being powered by a 2.5-liter EJ257 motor with the aforementioned 305 horsepower and 407 Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. These are largely carried over from the previous WRX STI (GVF), but why fix if it isn’t broken? This here is perhaps one of the loveliest engine-gearboxes marriages every made. It certainly isn’t perfect (there’s not much punch down low in the rpm range), but there’s nothing more physically and aurally satisfying than putting pedal to the metal and rowing through the crisp gearbox yourself. It takes a special kind of someone to appreciate the continuous soundtrack of the flat-4 permeating the cabin; if you’re one of those people, it’s simply organismic. Those who aren’t, need not apply. The same goes for the rest of the driving experience. The steering, still hydraulically-assisted, is weighty and so is the shifter and clutch. If you’re up to some arm and leg exercise, it remains usable as a daily driver and returns a surprisingly good 6.75 km/L even in heavy Christmas traffic. It gets even better during light city traffic (like Sunday morning) returning up to 11.24 km/L in the city.
In the handling department, the WRX STI lends you an extremely high level of confidence befitting the term, “Subaru’s performance flagship.” It feels very rewarding tossing it into all sorts of curves with its excellently tuned suspension and beefy Brembo brakes. It feels very confident and stable; almost idiot-proof . The downside though is the rather punishing ride. Though it feels well-sorted out at high speeds, the low speed ride is very firm and stiff. Thankfully, the solid body construction (it uses the most high-tensile steel in the Subaru line-up) means an interior free from rattles or shimmies. Swapping the BBS forged wheels to the non-premium’s cast wheels may have affected the handling somewhat, but it’s largely negligible unless done perhaps during a back-to-back comparison setting.
So while the WRX STI (non-premium) feels as sharp as the WRX STI (premium), where did the P 100,000 go? Well, aside from the swap from the forged to cast alloy wheels, the most noticeable difference is found at the back, specifically the return of the large rear wing. Although the premium model did try to lure the more luxury-oriented set, tuners wanted the return of the wing. Now that it’s back, everything is right with the world.
Truth be told, it looks pretty much like the rear wing from the previous WRX STI, though without the corresponding part numbers, that can’t be said for certain. Again, why fix it if it isn’t broken? The world loves the large rear wing and it certainly gives this car its unmistakably brash attitude. And in WR Blue Pearl (coincidentally, a new shade of the iconic WR Blue Mica), it nicely ties it back to its roots as Subaru’s world-famous rally car (now endurance racer). A peculiarity with the rear wing though is that it affects the way the trunk opens and closes. Heavier weight on the lid means you cannot visually inspect whether the trunk’s been left open or not. It doesn’t even crack when you pop it; it just unlatches. Plus, closing the lid itself results in a less than progressive action. The trunk will feel light in the beginning only to feel very heavy halfway as you close the lid. This can cause your fingers to get in the way of the trunk if your reflexes aren’t quick enough.
While the swap of the fancier wheels for the rear wing may seem like a fair trade-off, the biggest shave happens inside where the P 100,000 in savings can make you feel shortchanged. For instance, you lose the leather seats (swapped for an Alcantara/leather number). And the powered driver’s seat. And the automatic headlights. And the rain-sensing wipers. And the moon roof. Those alone should equate to a more than P 100,000 in price reduction, right? But before raising your pitchforks in protest, it’s worth noting that Subaru’s doing this non-premium/premium WRX STI move in other countries as well. And the difference is as much as P 180,000 (this is true for the US, for example).
Therefore, it’s best to think of this scenario either as Subaru’s way of pricing the WRX STI 2.5-Premium way more competitively in the country spec-for-spec or that they’re taking a hit for every WRX STI non-premium they sell. Either way, it’s a buyer win-win. And besides, there are still a lot of fancy toys to play with from the passive entry with push button engine start/stop, the dual zone climate control, the high-resolution center display with reverse camera—all of which weren’t available in previous WRX STI models. The multi-mode DCCD and the Subaru SI-Drive are present as well.
Of course, the opposite is also true and would-be buyers could simply opt for the premium model, pay the extra P 60,000 or so to get the rear wing, and be on their merry way. It’s especially true in this price bracket where a buyer of a P 2.5-million peso car will treat the extra P 160,000 (for the premium package and the rear wing) as peanuts. Still, you love the freedom of choice. And that’s single-handedly the great thing with the arrival of this new WRX STI variant. It removes all the luxury pretentiousness that the premium model had without sacrificing a single bit when it comes to its performance. It’s the very same WRX STI everyone loves but in a simpler and more tuner-friendly package.
2015 Subaru WRX STI
|Ownership||2015 Subaru WRX STI (Non-Premium)|
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Sedan|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Flat-4|
|BHP @ rpm||305 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||407 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 98~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,509|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Inverted MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Front Brakes||Brembo, Vented Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Brembo, Vented Disc|
|Tires||Dunlop Sport Maxx RT 245/40R18W (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, Rear Parking Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|