Check out the 2015 Subaru WRX from its official world debut at this year’s LA Auto Show. The new WRX is a more powerful and better handling version of Subaru’s iconic high-performance Impreza WRXmodel.Powered by a new 268-horsepower 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo BOXER engine, the 2015 WRX debuts the model’s first six-speed manual transmission and a new, optional performance automatic transmission, the Sport Lineartronic with two manual modes.
With its bold new wide-body sedan design and expanded performance envelope, the 2015 WRX marks a major evolutionary step for the rally-bred performance car that has become a global automotive legend. For 2015, the Subaru WRX employs a new torque-vectoring system that supplements the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Torque vectoring allows for improved cornering speeds and handling. The new and stiffer chassis, larger brakes, performance-tuned suspension and a driver-focused interior remain integral to the WRX performance character. The new powertrain also yields higher fuel efficiency than the previous model.
At the same time, a roomier interior, upgraded cabin comfort and materials and a wide array of new user technologies give the new WRX a more refined feel. A harman/kardon® premium audio system is offered for the first time in a WRX.
The 2015 WRX design deftly blends an aggressive stance with a sophisticated sport sedan theme. The new WRX features a much bolder front design with a deep front spoiler and unique grille. The wide-body stance seen on the previous model is enhanced with new, standard 17-inch wheels. The hood, front fenders, rear doors and quarters, bumpers, headlights and taillight clusters are all unique to the 2015 WRX.
• New platform offers a stiffer, more agile chassis for Subaru global performance icon
• New torque-vectoring system reduces understeer
• New 268-hp 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo BOXER engine
• New standard 6-speed manual transmission
• New Sport Lineartronic® transmission with manual modes
Specially designed for the 2015 WRX, the rear doors and fenders continue the model’s wide-body stance in a rakish new profile. The Subaru hexagonal grille is flanked by narrower headlights designed to evoke a raptor’s stare. The functional hood scoop, which supplies the intercooler with fresh air, is now set more deeply into the hood to provide better forward visibility.
Other new performance-oriented details include foglight surrounds with a carbon fiber-like pattern and vertical front fender vents that feature a bright garnish and a mesh screen. Higher-grade models use new LED low-beam headlights; halogen lights are used on other models. The side sill spoilers that help to visually lower the car also help protect the doors from rock chips.
New standard 17-inch wheels feature a more aerodynamic design. At the rear, LED taillights, a diffuser, LED center high-mount stop lamp (CHMSL) and an available lip spoiler leave a distinctive signature.
The new WRX body structure makes greater use of high-tensile strength steel than the previous model and features special stiffening elements at key locations. Combined with the new Electronic Power Steering system, specially tuned suspension and 235/45 R17 94W Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT tires, the stiffer chassis yields steering response that was benchmarked against top-handling sports cars.
The new WRX 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder BOXER engine uses a combination of direct fuel injection, high compression (10.6:1), Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System (D-AVCS), a twin-scroll turbocharger and an intercooler to achieve outstanding performance and high efficiency. The engine produces 268 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, accompanied by a broad torque curve that peaks at 258 lb.-ft. over a 2,000-5,200 rpm engine speed range.
The new 6-speed manual transmission provides a wider ratio spread than the previous 5-speed and incorporates several performance and durability improvements for this high-performance application, including carbon synchronizers on first and second gears.
New Sport Lineartronic Transmission
The 2015 WRX introduces the option of a new automatic transmission engineered to enrich the performance-driving experience. The new Sport Lineartronic delivers an ultra-smooth driving character with the choice of stepped automatic shifting eight pre-selected ratios (when in Sport Sharp mode) and also 6-speed and 8-speed manual shifting modes using steering wheel paddle switches.
Models with the Sport Lineartronic also feature Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE), a powertrain performance management system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle’s driving characteristics by choosing from among three selectable modes – “Intelligent,” “Sport” and “Sport Sharp” – using a switch on the flat-bottom steering wheel.
Two Versions of Symmetrical AWD
When equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, the 2015 Subaru WRX uses the brand’s Continuous AWD version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. A viscous coupling locking center differential nominally distributes torque 50:50 front to rear, and Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) provides stability and traction control. Should slippage occur, this system transfers more power to the wheels with the best traction.
The new Sport Lineartronic is teamed exclusively with the Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. A planetary gear-type center differential and an electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch control torque distribution between the front and rear wheels. Under most conditions, VTD splits the torque 45:55, with the rearward torque bias contributing to handling agility. The VTD system continually optimizes torque distribution in response to driving conditions and input from steering wheel angle, yaw and lateral g-force sensors.
A one-inch longer wheelbase than the previous WRX is a factor in providing a markedly roomier cabin in the new model. The windshield is more raked than before, with the A-pillar pulled forward nearly eight inches at the base for better forward visibility, aided by a lower dashboard and narrower A-pillars. Higher seating hip points, lower side sills and wider-opening doors make ingress/egress easier. Rear seat passengers gain nearly two inches of legroom, and trunk capacity is increased. A standard 60/40-split fold-down rear seat extends the WRX sedan’s versatility.
The high-performance feel starts as soon as the driver enters the 2015 WRX and grips the new flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel, which offers tilt and telescoping adjustments. The wheel integrates switches for audio and Bluetooth® control.
Rich-looking appointments and details abound, including soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest. Numerous compartments located in and around the center console hold all manner of personal items, such as phones, USB drives and MP3 players. The available power sunroof opens one inch farther than on the previous WRX.
The dual gauge instrument layout features a 3.5-in. LCD central screen to display various functions, including oil level, remaining washer fluid and selected gear ratio. A new multi-information central display with 4.3-in. LCD screen provides a multitude of vehicle system functions, including a rear camera display, a boost gauge display, audio, Bluetooth and climate control settings, and a VDC screen showing traction control operation. The display can provide a vehicle self-check and maintenance reminder.
Whiplash-reducing front sport seats, covered in a new high-grip fabric, feature separate tilt- and height-adjustable head restraints, a change from the seats with integrated head restraints used before. Leather is available, as is an 8-way power driver’s seat.
Amenities that reflect the 2015 WRX’s refined sport sedan positioning include standard automatic climate control and available Keyless Access with Push-button Start, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, and a 440-watt, 9-speaker harman/kardon premium audio system and navigation with Aha® smartphone integration.
:: Antonio Alvendia
Photos by Terry Pham