Ask three different people what STI (Subaru's performance branch) stands for and you may get three different answers. The correct answer to this question is Subaru Technica International as highlighted by the Cherry Blossom red badging seen on Subaru STI-branded vehicles. Subaru refreshed one of its most popular offerings so we were eager to see how it translated to the road. We recently drove the 2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition, which is limited to only 1,000 units and priced just under $40,000, and put it through the normal paces any STI owner would.

Adorned in its famed rally racing Blue Pearl with gold wheels and a comically large rear wing, the latest WRX STI has no shortage of fans and detractors. We'll start with the fans, who far outweighed the hecklers, as they seemed to magically appear as soon as we stepped out of the car. At the gas station, the WRX STI had a presence so big that it made pedestrians and fellow motorists alike stop in their tracks to come ask questions. Fans of Subaru - especially the WRX- are passionate and really know their stuff. We answered as many questions as possible before we could finish filling the WRX's tank. Soon enough we were on the road again and here's where the hecklers showed up.

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Living in Los Angeles, we see our fair share of cars, both stock and modified, but the WRX STI was like the Pied Piper of the aftermarket tuner scene. On several occasions while traveling on the freeway, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Toyota Supra, or even other WRX STI drivers would pull up alongside and start revving their engine before realizing we wouldn't oblige. However, if one were to engage, the WRX's 2.5-liter flat-4 engine and 6-speed manual transmission would have no problems holding its own. Rated at 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, the 2015 WRX STI Launch Edition is a blast in a straight line and a ball in the corners as well. Thanks to retuned suspension, the WRX STI hugs corners making every on and off ramp feel like it's Eau Rouge at Spa. 

A notchy shifter and growling exhaust note make the Subaru WRX STI a polarizing choice. The rear wing doesn't help with WRX stereotypes either but after spending some serious time behind the wheel, we came away very impressed. Owning a WRX STI is an exercise in constant self-control because at a moment's notice, you can hop in, run down to the supermarket and not feel any worse for the wear. On the other hand though, every drive can turn into a rally stage if you're in a hurry or you just want to have some fun. Even still, we recommend going the long way home with Subaru's latest WRX STI.  

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