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Subaru WRX and STi: Toting families and groceries since 2001

Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ

Subaru's latest WRX and STi offerings are not only practical cars; they're peddle-to-the-medal fast.


Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 10th, 2014



Performance cars that can move your family and your groceries aren’t common, especially if you have less than $50,000 to spend. That all changed when Subaru started selling the Impreza WRX in Canada in 2001.

This was a practical, sensible car that one could reliably use every day that also had the ability to entertain better than many two-door sports cars.

In 2004, Subaru Canada offered a more extreme WRX STi version, which had more power, a driver selectable torque-split and the kind of cornering grip that could shift your internal organs.

In 2008, the third version was introduced. It had power and it offered more technology, but purists felt that these models had lost some of the raw appeal of the originals. I found them to be too soft for my liking.

Fast forward to today, and two things have happened: Mitsubishi announced that it is killing off the Evolution X model and there is no replacement model planned. And Subaru just introduced the fourth-generation model of the WRX and STi for the 2015 model year.

Let’s begin, with the exterior.

In the past, Subaru has been criticized for making dull-looking cars. That’s not the case anymore, and the 2015 WRX and STi are a good example of that. The new body has lots of sharp edges and clever curves. I think these latest WRX and STi models are among the best looking four-door cars on sale today.

The same, however, cannot be said of the interior. While it offers plenty of space for passengers front and back, and there is a usable trunk – which becomes even more usable when you fold down its rear seats – it is neither an attractive place to sit in, nor do the interior plastics have a high quality feel to them.

Infotainment-wise, you get a touch screen system that is annoying to use, but entertainment-wise, you get driver selectable drive modes, which alter the characteristics of the vehicle.

The WRX and STi are more about enjoying your drive, rather than your favourite CD.

The 2015 has a 2.0-litre, horizontally- opposed, turbo charged, four-cylinder engine that produces 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all wheels via either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic.

Yes, the latest WRX is offered with a continuously variable transmission.

The news of this gave me nightmares for months, until the day I actually drove one.

Within the first kilometer I could tell that this is unlike any CVT transmission I’ve come across. It felt like a normal automatic transmission and it offered seamless power, which just results in very rapid progress. We’re talking about a vehicle that can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds and top out at 240 km/h.

Not only can it do these speeds, it can handle them also. Its stability and road holding on straights is impressive, and through corners is just mind blowing – this car can take off-ramps faster than many supercars. If you love driving, you will adore this car.

If you want to go faster still, the 2015 STi model comes packing with a 2.5-litre, horizontally-opposed, turbo charged, four-cylinder engine that produces 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. This model also gets all-wheel drive but allows you to tweak its setting, so if you like to drift around most corners, just send more power to the rear axle. The STi model is offered only with a six-speed, close-ratio gearbox, that is simply a joy to use.

The gears click in nicely, the clutch has a nice weight to it, the pedals are properly placed and spaced, and even the weight of the flywheel is perfect for when you want to blip-shift. As a tool for driving enjoyment, the STi is hard to beat.

Its performance numbers are hard to beat also, since zero to 100 km/h is dealt with in just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is 264 km/h – that means it is just as fast as a Jaguar F-Type V6, which is a two-seater sports car that costs a lot more.

That performance doesn’t come at the expense of fuel economy. Sure, these cars are not as economical as a diesel, but with an average of 9.3-litres/ 100km in the WRX, and 11.4 with the STi, among performance cars, these figures are not bad at all.

Part of the reason these new models are as efficient as they are, is because they both offer selectable drive modes. There is “I” for Intelligent Drive, which is the most eco friendly mode. “S” is Sport, which takes things up a notch, and “S#” stands for Sports Sharp, which changes the exhaust note, sharpens the throttle and wakes up all the horses.

I just loved putting the car in fourth gear, gently accelerating while in “I” mode, and then engage “S#” mode, because you can instantly feel the rush of acceleration this mode has to offer.

The base 2015 WRX is yours from $29,995. The 2015 STi start at $37,995. The WRX and STi represent exhilarating performance for under $50,000.

Would I buy one? YES.
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