$20,673 - $29,543

2015 Subaru WRX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Subaru WRX was new.


Performance: 8.8

Reviewers are impressed with the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX’s responsive engine, brisk acceleration and precise steering. They say the WRX is extremely controlled and feels planted in corners, which makes it a blast to drive, especially on twisty roads. Test drivers note that the ride can be firm, but it’s still comfortable enough for the daily grind.

  • "Torpedoing into and rocketing out of switchbacks on our drive route in Napa Valley, the 2015 WRX showed that it still has the goods to satisfy hard-core fans of the badge. With all-wheel drive, this Subie has an easy balance and neutrality that's missing in front-drive cars like the Ford Focus ST, and unlike its front-drive competitors, the WRX has no problem putting down the power and firing itself out of corners." -- Car and Driver
  • "Even with the CVT, the WRX feels like a bona fide performance car with slingshot-like acceleration, direct steering, and a rewardingly rigid suspension." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The car has just the right amount of power to make tortuously twisty back roads a blast. Yet the soft edge on the ride quality lends to a comfortable ride on the weekly commute. The WRX has no problem serving both duties." -- CNET
  • "But there are very few cars that are more fun at road speeds than this new rex." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 WRX comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine that makes 268 horsepower. A 305-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine comes with the WRX STI. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with six- and eight-speed manual modes is available on the WRX, while all WRX STI models feature a six-speed manual transmission. The base 2015 WRX gets an EPA-estimated 21/28 mpg city/highway, which isn’t as good as what rivals like the Volkswagen GTI and the Audi A3 get.

Auto writers say the Subaru WRX’s base engine has ample power, brisk throttle response and very little turbo lag. They praise the standard six-speed manual transmission for its precise shifter and smooth clutch action. Most reviewers also say the optional CVT makes good use of the engine’s power.

  • "With direct injection this 2-liter four-cylinder engine has plenty of boost on its own. The turbo also has a twin scroll, so it's adding power from initial tip-in. But a few seconds under way, the boost really kicks in. That makes the acceleration a little uneven, but I can live with that." -- CNET
  • "The new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is strong throughout its rev range, and its rush of midrange power will at first surprise you and then quickly become addictive. The new CVT is surprisingly capable, and its different driver-selectable modes and shift paddles make the most of what the WRX has to offer." -- Edmunds
  • “The manual transmission is butter smooth, and it is much easier to keep the engine at the sweet spot of the torque curve, as opposed to the CVT. With its low-end torque and short turbo lag, downshifting the new WRX and going full throttle results in a slight delay before that satisfying push back into the seat." -- MSN Autos
  • "Unlike previous generations, throttle response is virtually instantaneous, and the newly standard 6-speed manual gearbox is one of the best in the business thanks to its precise action and short throws." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “The setup is pretty engaging, with quick action on both the ‘upshifts’ and ‘downshifts,’ and when left to its own devices, the CVT will snap to attention to put the tach needle right where it needs to be depending on throttle and brake inputs. It will also hold revs high during corners, proactively downshift under braking and keep revs planted in the heart of the powerband for accessible oomph at all times. It's surprisingly good. No, really." -- Autoblog 

Handling and Braking

Test drivers praise the 2015 Subaru WRX’s direct and communicative steering. They also say it’s incredibly agile, and that standard all-wheel drive helps the WRX hug the road with tenacity. Critics point out that the ride is somewhat firm, but most say it’s not likely to bother shoppers who prioritize sporty handling. Several reviewers note that the brakes have a vague pedal feel and wish they were easier to modulate.

  • "It absolutely devours tight, twisty roads and imparts a feeling of driver confidence that its front-wheel-drive competitors simply can't replicate. The ride quality is undoubtedly stiff, but for this class of car we don't think many drivers will take issue." -- Edmunds
  • "Stiffly sprung cars will often skip during a high-speed turn when the road surface is uneven, but the WRX acts if it is glued to the pavement." -- MSN Autos
  • "With the power available, the WRX showed off its cornering, and OMG it is excellent. Although the suspension had a soft edge, it kept the car very flat, holding all four tires to the road. A little bounce in the springs felt like rally tuning. The all-wheel-drive system let all four tires claw at the asphalt, and what Subaru calls torque vectoring, in reality inside-wheel braking, gave the WRX an extra tug around the turns. It was glorious to hold the wheel of this car and power through a series of tight bends." -- CNET
  • “It's true - this thing goes exactly where you point it, immediately. There's plenty of steering feel from the new electronic power assisted rack, with linear build-up while turning and solid driver feedback." -- Autoblog
  • “There is a slight dead zone in the pedal and then when it grabs, it isn't with a big initial bite. It's more a lazy entry into braking nirvana. What I'd prefer is a more solid pedal at the top of the travel with a more aggressive snag of the rotor." -- Jalopnik

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