Lots of Subaru WRX fans were likely upset with the elimination of the 5-door hatchback for the 2015 model year, as the 2015 Subaru WRX went back to offering only a five-passenger, four-door sedan.
The same held true for the 2015 Subaru WRX STi. Both were all new despite the fact that they were still an Impreza beneath the surface. There was however, no longer any Impreza reference – they were referred to only as WRX or WRX STi.
There was a time when it seemed that most auto journalists would agree that Subaru’s WRX STi was a less civilized machine than Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution. That’s a thing of the past. The WRX STi four-door sedan for 2016 comes with a large sculpted rear wing spoiler that opens up rear vision. This latest iteration Subaru WRX STi brings the brand’s performance flagship status to a totally new and more desirable plane.
Power continues to be provided by a 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, intercooled, turbocharged, horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder engine with Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System, variable intake and exhaust valve timing and SI-DRIVE Engine Performance Management system. This potent powerplant cranks out 305 horses at 6,000 rpm while also developing 290 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The engine mates to a 6-speed manual gearbox that regulates gear ratios to Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System, which incorporates a Driver Control Center Differential (DCCD) version that’s exclusive to the WRX STi, and takes driver controlled response to the next level.
The DCCD system provides three selectable automatic performance modes in addition to six manual differential-locking settings. The DCCD AWD system integrates the Vehicle Dynamics Control stability and traction control system, which also offers three driver selectable modes through the Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE), a powertrain performance management system that enables the driver to tailor the vehicle’s driving characteristics by choosing from three modes – “Intelligent,” “Sport” and “Sport Sharp” – using a switch on the steering wheel.
The new WRX STI is offered in two trim levels: a base model that starts at $34,695 and a Limited model that adds an 8-way power driver’s seat, 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, auto on/off headlights, harman/kardon premium audio, including 440-watt amplifier and 9 speakers, leather-trimmed upholstery, welcome lighting and a power moonroof. Options for the Limited model STi include keyless access and start and touch-screen navigation system. Add $795 destination and handling charges for all models.
The Subaru WRX STi features a roomy interior. The body displays an aero-enhanced design, with hood, fenders, doors and quarters, bumpers, headlights and taillight clusters expressing WRX STI identity.
The aluminum hood with integral scoop provides fresh air to the intercooler, and the scoop is set deeply into the hood providing enhanced forward visibility.
Rear-seat legroom was increased by nearly two inches over previous generations two years ago, and lower side sills and wide-opening doors allow for easy ingress and egress. The windshield is sharply raked, with the A-pillar pulled forward at the base providing excellent forward vision. Low-beam headlights are LED units as are the taillights.
The chassis is stiff, with large front brakes, and performance-tuned suspension. The electronic power steering system’s response is benchmarked against top-handling sports cars.
The 4-wheel independent suspension componentry consists of MacPherson-type struts, aluminum lower L-arms with pillow ball mounts and bushings, coil springs and stabilizer bar up front and Double wishbone with subframe, pillow ball bushings for lower lateral links, coil springs and stabilizer bar in the rear.
The 2016 WRX STI rolls on 235/40 R18 97W Dunlop SP Sport Maxx RT tires mounted on 5-spoke cast alloy wheels, while BBS forged alloy wheels are featured on WRX STI Limited models. Braking chores are handled by power-assisted 4-wheel ventilated discs with electronic brake-force distribution and 4-channel/4-sensor ABS, brake assist and brake override.
This latest WRX STi showcases a bold front end design with a deep front spoiler and unique grille. The “nose-cone” design combines the grille and bumper cap into one unit ahead of the hood. The wide-body stance is enhanced by the wheel designs.
The rear doors and fenders are specially designed for the 2017 WRX STi, and continue the model’s wide-body stance, in a rakish profile. The Subaru hexagonal grille is flanked by narrow headlights designed to display a raptor-like stare.
Interior refinements are impressive as well. The high-performance feel is experienced immediately upon entry as the driver grips the flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel, with tilt and telescoping adjustments. The wheel also integrates switches for audio and Bluetooth control. The dashboard is low, and the A-pillars are narrow for optimum outward visibility.
The STIi electroluminescent instrument panel features a 3.5-in. LCD central screen that displays various functions such as warnings for low oil and windshield washer fluid and the selected gear.
The multi-function display with a 4.3-inch LCD screen provides a rear camera display, boost gauge display, audio, Bluetooth and climate control settings, VDC screen showing traction control operation and a vehicle self-check and maintenance reminder. HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. are standard, and a harman/kardon premium audio system is offered; 440-watt, 9-speaker system, keyless access and start and navigation with Aha smartphone integration are optionally available.
Tactile appointments and details abound, including soft-touch materials for the dashboard, door trim and center console armrest. Numerous compartments are positioned in and around the center console to hold a variety of personal items, such as phones, USB drives and MP3 players.
An available power sunroof opens one inch farther than on previous WRX models. Whiplash-reducing front performance design seats feature separate tilt- and height-adjustable head restraints. The new high-grip black fabric is trimmed with contrast stitching, which is also used on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Safety and security features and equipment include 3-point seatbelts for all seats (height-adjustable for outboard positions); front seatbelts with electrically triggered pre-tensioners and force limiters; 4-channel/4-sensor anti-lock brake system with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; daytime running lights; impact-sensing fuel cutoff; Subaru’s Advanced Frontal Airbag System; front seat side pelvis/torso air bags; side-curtain air bags; driver’s side knee airbag; LATCH uniform child restraint anchorage system; rear seat head restraints, height-adjustable (all positions); ring-shaped reinforcement frame body structure with front and rear crumple zones; safety pedal system; security system with engine immobilizer; tire pressure monitoring system; vehicle dynamics control with traction control system; whiplash-reducing design front performance seats with separate height and tilt-adjustable head restraints.
My test 2016 Subaru WRX STi was the base version with the base price set at $34,695. The final tally for my test vehicle with the exterior finished in Pure Red and the interior executed in Black and Red came to $35,490. After factoring in the destination and delivery charge.
The 2016 Subaru WRX STi continues its legacy and is still exhilarating to toss over tight and narrow, twisty back roads. The impressive power and tight chassis makes carving challenging roads a complete blast. The new WRX STi is impressively quick, with rapid acceleration and virtually no turbo lag. Steering feel is right on the money, responding instantly to input.
Ride quality is unquestionably very firm, but still manages to deliver a reasonable level of comfort, with phenomenal seat support. The manual gearbox allows for fast smooth shifts.
Regardless of WRX STi enthusiasts’ reaction to the sedan-only styling, there’s no denying that this iteration WRX STi is much more pleasurable to drive for extended distances. It delivers both civilized and refined motoring, without sacrificing any performance or handling attributes.
One might well categorize the 2016 Subaru WRX STi as a turn-key rally racer that is also sophisticated enough to handle more mundane duties such as grocery runs. The ride compliance is surprisingly respondent to virtually any road surface (or non-road surface) – no lost dental fillings here.
Fuel economy isn’t bad either, with EPA ratings of 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
If there are any frowns in order, it’s due to the fact that a rally school is not included with the purchase, and there’s no roll cage included – just kidding. That being said, this latest WRX STi is a winner in either the base or Limited trim level. This latest WRX STi should contribute to Subaru’s continued success sales figures.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Subaru WRX STi
Base Price: $34,695. Base model
Price as Tested: $35,490. Limited model
Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter (DOHC), 16-valve, flat, horizontally opposed (BOXER), turbocharged/intercooled 4-cylinder with Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System, variable intake and exhaust valve timing) and SI-DRIVE Engine Performance Management system.
Horsepower (bhp): 305 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 290 @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission (WRX STI Launch Edition features STI short-throw shifter).
Drive Train: Front mounted flat opposed engine / Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with Driver Control Center Differential (DCCD) featuring three performance modes and six driver-selectable differential locking settings; mechanical and electronically controlled limited-slip center differential; helical limited-slip front differential and TORSEN® limited-slip rear differential, steering angle input sensor; nominal torque split is 41:59
Suspension: 4-wheel independent, high-performance STI sport-tuned.
Front – Inverted struts with forged aluminum-alloy lower A-arms with pillow ball joint mount, coil springs, 24mm stabilizer bar.
Rear – Double-wishbone type with coil springs and damper units, stiffener bar, 20mm stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted Brembo Performance Brake System, 4-wheel vented discs with 4-channel, 4-sensor Super-Sport anti-lock brake system (ABS) with g-sensor; Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Brake Override.
Tires: Dunlop Sport Maxx RT 245/40R18 97W summer
Performance mounted on 5-spoke cast alloy wheels with dark gray finish.
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Length Overall: 180.9 inches
Width: 70.7 inches
Height: 58.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,391 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.0 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.329
0 – 60 mph: 5.1 seconds