Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru
2015 Subaru WRX Sport Tech 6MT. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard, Photos by Chris Koski

Hang onto your privates! When you give the new Subaru WRX a bootful of gas, its new little beastie of an engine alters its valve timing to inhale great big huffs of pressurized air from the sneaky little turbo, which itself urgently spools up the boost as if it’s its last day on earth. The turbo’s new dual-scroll design increases performance by recovering more energy from the exhaust stream to drive more than 20 psi worth of compressed and intercooled air into the cylinders. Yee haa!

And you smirk like an overgrown man-child in the process, because the WRX flings itself along into a fit of gobbling up pavement, slamming you into your seat, and clawing at the ground beneath for all-wheel traction. All the while, the cabin is flooded with overlapping layers of sound from the fluttering boxer-engine exhaust pulses, meshing gears and turbocharger whining, until you grab the next gear from the new six-speed stick and repeat the process.

So, it might be the new WRX, but the experience is hugely familiar when you hammer down.

It’s still familiar on rough roads, too. Driven thusly, drivers can expect the same sense that someone at Subaru drove the WRX on the sort of roads we common folk see in the real world, and set up the suspension to feel tough and robust for ride quality’s sake. Even on the crater fields that pass as roads in Sudbury, the WRX rides with solid and well-damped density. It’s comfortable on rough stuff – a little busy yes – but it never feels like a flimsy shopping cart full of empty soup cans being pushed across a gravel parking lot.

WRX is still easy to drive gently too, once you get the hang of the clutch and shifter. This new six-speed setup isn’t forgiving and will take a little getting used to for most – though it’s gratifying once nailed, and features perfect pedal placement and throttle-response friskiness for heel-and-toe shifting. The clutch has decent bite and doesn’t feel like it’s made of Cheese Whiz.  The throw is a little long and the action a little notchy, though the overall sensation of smashing gears in the WRX is manly and precise.

So, in all, as it’s been for years, the latest WRX maintains its market presence as a bonkers, battle-ready sport sedan that makes noises from your favourite video racing game, is real-road friendly, and is affordable for common folks. Hell, it even smells like every other WRX (or WRX STI or Impreza) that your writer’s ever driven. So, if you’re coming out of an older WRX, or you’re a long-time-fan and first-time buyer, you’ll feel right at home in the new machine.

Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru
2015 Subaru WRX Sport Tech 6MT dashboard. Click image to enlarge

With one turbo, three pedals, four-wheel drive and four doors (a five-door was available but has disappeared this year) WRX has long been Canada’s unofficial performance car. WRX owners belong to a fiercely loyal community both online and at the local Cruise Night. They have a wave. Their beloved superhero sedan has boy-racer factor balanced nicely against everyday practicality, strong aftermarket support and more.

Plus, as about the only AWD competitor in its class, it’s ready for track-day, the highway, a snow-day, or a jaunt up a mountain with a roof-rack full of skis in the middle of a blizzard without missing a beat. And, it has a hood scoop and quad-pipe exhaust, which is badass. Plus, and this is the important part, you can probably buy one.

And Subaru says that now’s the time to do it, if you’re so inclined. Improvements this year promise to take the WRX up a few notches without compromising the character it’s built on, or the attributes that make it unique and special.

Test Drive: 2015 Subaru WRX car test drives subaru
2015 Subaru WRX Sport Tech 6MT. Click image to enlarge

Mostly.

The new 2.0L direct-injection engine revs higher, hits harder, winds out more eagerly, and pulls more urgently and smoothly than the old 2.5. There’s more pull everywhere, especially at low revs, where the new twin-scroll turbo, direct injection and trick variable valve timing system team up for synergistic results. The exhaust tone at start-up is deep and rich with bass, and during throttle lift, a deep “BOOOOF” overlaps all of the other WRX sound effects as the engine cuts fuel momentarily and sends a shock-wave from the exhaust. Even with the six-speed box, highway revs at speed land north of 2,500 — right where the turbo is frothing at the mouth to do its thing at the slightest roll on the throttle. Passing happens with minimal lag, and no downshifting required.

And, despite those higher-than-expected highway revs, a reduction in displacement and the addition of the latest in high-tech fuel saving make this WRX better on fuel too. A look back at my notes saw mileage on past WRX test drives landing at 10 or 11 L/100 km. The new one did 9.6 L/100 km overall — and that’s with a bit more ‘on paper’ horsepower, and a considerably more responsive performance experience.

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