Following the impressive debut of its all-new WRX in Los Angeles last November, Subaru unveiled the even-hotter 2015 WRX STI in Detroit. Building on the WRX's comprehensive upgrading program, the new king of Subaru's high-performance hill promises to further elevate the STI's already legendary status among the go-faster set thanks to its bolder appearance, more robust platform, enhanced dynamic envelope and upgraded features. Like the WRX, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI will be a sedan-only offering when it goes on sale this spring, although buyers can choose from Premium or Limited trim. To properly usher in this new-gen iteration, the automaker also announced the availability of a WRX STI Launch Edition that will have its own distinctive packaging and be limited to just 1,000 copies.
In keeping with its ultra-bad boy image, the new STI maintains a strong family resemblance with the more aggressively recast 2015 WRX but further cranks up its visual attitude with largely bespoke bodywork that includes unique fenders, doors and scooped aluminum hood as well as edgier but more aerodynamic front/rear fascias that boast STI-specific lighting clusters -- and the signature high-profile rear spoiler. The STI's boldly flared fenders are filled with 245/40 summer performance tires on lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels, cast on the Premium variant but forged on the Limited and Launch Edition.
Structurally, the new WRX STI benefits from an even-stouter iteration of the new core structure it shares with the 2015 WRX. Here, an already strong central element bolstered by the more extensive use of high-strength steel receives strategic reinforcements, ensuring it serves as an even more precise foundation to anchor the STI's upgraded suspension, quicker-ratio power steering and enhanced all-wheel-drive system. Key STI chassis elements remain, including its Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with three-stage Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC Normal/Traction/Off), a mechanical limited-slip center differential that works with the electronically controlled unit to vary the car's nominal 41/59 front/rear torque split as conditions dictate, and helical-front/Torsen-rear limited slip diffs. But the 2015 spec adds new Active Torque Vectoring to that list. This additional tweak promises to make this stunning Subaru 4-door even quicker through challenging corners and more confident on any type of road surface.
Motivation for the 2015 STI remains Subie's well-proven 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4 "boxer" engine that continues to make 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. Also back is the specially reinforced 6-speed manual transmission that includes Incline Start Assist. Rounding out the mix is Subaru's Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) powertrain management system with Intelligent/Sport/Sport Sharp operating modes that remap the engine control module and electronic throttle control to the driver's preference. Bountiful stopping power is supplied by a premium Brembo performance brake system with Super Sport ABS.
Although hard-core exhilaration remains its forte, the 2015 WRX STI will be the best-appointed and most people-pleasing variant ever to wear this beloved badge. Like the WRX, the STI's cabin features plenty of new soft-touch surfaces, better sightlines, wider-swing doors, an inch-longer wheelbase that eases entry/exit and adds nearly 2.0-inches of rear-seat legroom, plus a 60/40 split folding seatback to add utility to its slightly larger trunk. A new flat-bottom, multifunction sport steering wheel, redesigned electroluminescent gauges and an enhanced 4.3-inch LCD Multi-Function Display help the driver tend to the business at hand, but the 2015 STI also features dual-zone climate control and an All-Weather package, along with new items that include an upgraded HD Radio audio system with SiriusXM and Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming. Options include voice-activated navigation with a 6.1-inch touchscreen and a harman/kardon premium sound package. The top-line STI Limited also swaps its black and red cloth upholstery for supple leather.
All WRX STI Launch Edition models will be finished in the historic "WR" Blue Pearl paint that adorned the legendary STIs that once dominated World Rally Championship competitions. Each of the 1,000 units also will feature classic gold-painted 18-inch BBS forged alloys wrapped in the baseline STI-spec 245/40R18 tires and come with the Keyless Access & Start system, unique two-tone blue/black Alcantara upholstery and have an STI short-throw shifter kit.
Like the WRX, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is set to arrive in showrooms this spring. Final details on pricing and EPA numbers - tentatively estimated at 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway -- will be released closer to its actual on-sale date.
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