Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Tuners love tinkering with cars. No matter how it appears or performs, they always find something to adjust, re-tune, or re-work. One perennial crowd favorite has always been the Subaru WRX STI. Leaving the Gunma, Japan assembly plant already packing horsepower figures north of 300, tuners have found ways to extract a whole lot more performance the moment they get their hands on one of these famed ‘rally cars for the road’.

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)
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Sports Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Turbocharged, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Flat-4
BHP @ rpm 305 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 407 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 98~
Transmission 6MT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,595
Width (mm) 1,795
Height (mm) 1,475
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650
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)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, Rear Parking Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Alcantara/Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Isn't Alcantara more premium than leather since its usually used in high-end supercars? Also the removal of the moonroof may be beneficial for the handling.

    1. I see you've been caught in the Alcantara brand. It's nothing more than suede. High-end sports cars use them because it's a fire retardant material, but they're actually a type of cloth. In other words, leather is actually better.

    2. Oh, that's nice to know. I thought Alcantara was an exotic and expensive material. Lamborghini's been going wild using it though so I really though it was something special.

    3. Lamborghini has perfected the art of "less is more", IMHO.

  2. I wish there was an AT variant for the STI

    1. There used to be an A-Line I just don't know if there is or will be a variant of the 2015 model.

  3. I myself prefer automatic now(i know, I know) but I imagine for those who like to drive spiritedly or will use this as a weekend car, manual is perfect.

    That said, I havent experienced using paddles shifters, ever. Maybe that will bridge the gap a little.

    1. A lot of reviewers has commented that Subaru's CVT in the WRX is actually so good they can finally say goodbye to the manual.

      However, rowing the shifter is driving pleasure! However again, if you do that in the STI with EDSA traffic. You would wish you'd have a CVT instead.

    2. this car doesnt belong in standing EDSA traffic. If you are priveledge purist to purchase one, best to use it as weekend warrior car. use any other A/T car for daily commutes. I would prefer the WRX cvt though...

  4. I know a lot of annoying spoiled rich kid douchebags who own/want to let their daddy buy this. Favorite nila ito, along with the Toyota 86/BRZ and Ford Explorer.

    1. You can't blame them. This car is my realistic favorite car. My dad bought one for me. Did I asked for it? No. Did I forced him to buy me one? Heck no. It's simple, if your parents are financially able enough and cares for you a lot, I mean A LOT, then they can buy whatever the heck they want for you easy. Plus me and my dad loves cars since we were both kids.

      I asked dad as to why he bought one. He said "I just want you to experience having a car you like. I don't want you to experience the same feeling I had when I was young and drooling at cars that I like." Our parents may have different point of views, but that's the view of my dad.

      Why are you even annoyed to the "rich kid dbags who let their daddy buy that"? I guess because you're jealous that they can have a car like this easy peasy or you can't afford one or siguro mas pinili nung crush mo yung isang rk noon or nabully ka ng rk? Kasi illogical naman na naiinis ka sa kanila dahil sa assumption mo na their dads bought them a car like this.


  5. The Premium 2015 Subaru WRX STI costs 2.7mil in total insurances,taxes etc. here in Davao City (still same motor image dealer like in manila) and The 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium costs around 3.1mil in total with insurances and taxes etc. so 400k difference will get you a Mustang V8 GT with a 100 more horses.......Im a die hard subaru fan and having an STI variant of the WRX is truly rewarding but with the price range almost equal to having a mustang with 100 more horses (not a mustang fan btw) sometimes gives me the downer.

    1. Good luck driving that Mustang along a twisty mountain highway. :P

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  7. For Inquiries about WRX STI, and latest promos and discount :

    Sales Consultant
    Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc. (SUBARU)
    187 Edsa Greenhills, San Juan City
    Metro Manila 1503, Philippines
    Tel: 09276039220
    Email: leobegonia@motorimage.net

  8. Any idea when the 2016 model of the WRX will come to our shores?

  9. Does the premium version come with body kits?

    1. nope. just the standard skirts and no spoilers

  10. i want this car!!! yeah, i'd love to drive it round south and north of Cebu!

  11. The Subaru WRX STI or the Ford mustang 2.3L Ecoboost? They are almost 2.5m peso. I want the STI because it can ride 5 people comfortably unlike the Mustang, But I also like the mustang because Its a muscle car and its a ford, we're family of ford pruducts. Help me what to buy. Thanks.

    1. For me, if these two are the only choices I'd pick the STI. The Ecoboost Mustang's 5 hp "advantage" is not that big of a deal since it's quite heavy.. If you want a more comfy ride, the Mustang has the softer ride while the tuned suspension of the STI makes it the best at the twisties :D

      The GT though, with it's line lock! BURNOOOOUTTTSSS!!!

  12. How do you disable the hill-start assist?

    1. If I'm not mistaken, you can't disable hill-start assist. You can disable traction and stability control, but not hill-start.

      Try disabling the stability control system though (long press) and see if that does it.

  13. I've watched a video on YouTube on how to disable your car's hill-start assist although it was done on a 2015 Subaru WRX. Press the traction control button (While disabled) until the traction control light turns off then press it again then another light will turn on on the right side of the instrument panel, stating that the hill-start assist is already disable. If anyone is able to try this, please let us know if it actually works..

  14. No option for the Harman Kardon 9-speaker sound system? :( Even for the 2016/2017?