First drive: 2015 Subaru WRX STI in the UAE

First drive: 2015 Subaru WRX STI in the UAE

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

We got to test-drive something different last week. Something that is genuinely Japanese and not the Chinese-American-Australian Japanese. Something that is blisteringly fast, sounds awesome, and is a pure joy to drive. It is interesting on the tarmac, and only gets infinitely more interesting beyond it. It is the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI.

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

The car provided to us by the dealer was a top-spec WRX STI Manual Premium. Formerly known as the Subaru Impreza WRX STI that was also available as a hot-hatch, Subaru’s rally-inspired performance sub-compact now comes only in the sedan form, albeit a bigger and roomier one, and has the ‘Impreza’ dropped from its name. The WRX STI is considerably different in its design from the regular Impreza, with a unique front-end comprising of the front fascia that sits more outward, distinct headlamp design with turn indicators separated and built into the front bumper instead, and a massive hood scoop for feeding the beastly engine underneath.

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

The interior is a massive improvement over any of the previous versions, with soft-touch materials and leatherette now used on several surfaces, leather-clad sport bucket seats with STI logos and red leather accents, and carbon-fiber inserts in the center dash and center console. The fit and finish seems excellent, and so is the interior space, with very good legroom and headroom for both front and rear passengers. The boot is fairly spacious too, making the WRX-STI a practical daily-driver, that is if you know what a third pedal is doing in the footwell, and do not mind it.

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

Standard features in the WRX-STI include a vehicle dynamics control system, smart key with starter button, multi-function display with turbo boost pressure meter, a strong dual-zone auto a/c, Bluetooth, intelligent voice recognition and voice control system, Brembo performance brakes, multitude of airbags including knee airbag, active torque vectoring, Subaru intelligent drive system with 3 drive modes, and hill-start assist. Additional features in our top-spec tester include leather seats, sunroof, 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, 18-inch BBS alloy wheels, auto headlamps with high-beam assist, auto wipers, and rear-view camera.

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

Underneath the hood sits a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Cranking out a whopping 300 hp and 407 Nm of torque, the STI can theoretically hit 100 kph in only 5.2 seconds, although our tester never bettered 6.4 seconds, partly due to the hot July weather, but mostly due to our subtle 3000 rpm launches, as you’d have to do abusive high-rev clutch-drops to get the factory times. Nevertheless, the turbocharged motor has tons of power, with enough juice to cruise and overtake on highways without leaving sixth gear. The clutch is moderately-weighted, but not heavy enough to cause leg cramps in city traffic. The short manual shifter is a tad notchy, but quick shifting is still a breeze if you know what you are doing.

Things get even more interesting once the WRX STI is on the roll. Throw it into a tight corner and Subaru’s racing DNA becomes readily apparent, as it remains glued to the asphalt. We never turned off the traction and stability control, which seemed to kick in a bit too early in tight corners thus inducing understeer, but Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system instantaneously reacts by quickly adjusting power distribution between the wheels to keep the car in cleaner lines. The handling characteristics of the car may be further fine-tuned by fiddling around with the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), which automatically manages torque distribution between the axles and between the wheels on each axle, but allows both semi-automatic and manual torque-split adjustments. We never attempted any rally driving for obvious reasons, but it could probably manage gravel very well.

2015 Subaru WRX-STI

The WRX STI may not be the smoothest of sports cars, but it still soaks up bumps pretty admirably, making it a reasonable daily driver. The steering is an old-school hydraulically-assisted setup, nicely-weighted, offering great feedback, and shorter-ratio than the regular WRX variant. When not gunned, there is a refined hum from the engine at highway speeds.

Subaru may not be an alien brand to most, courtesy of Subaru’s racing legacy, but it is likely the least-preferred Japanese brand in the UAE, and that is never because their cars are bad. The all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI is one of those few real sports cars which, besides offering almost all modern-day creature comforts and features, gives every true petrolhead what they yearn for –- the true pleasure and thrilling sensation of fast driving.

For UAE prices and specs, visit the Subaru buyer guide.

Photos by Vivek Menon.

What do you think?



  1. this car 2.5 L engine but still Japan spec 2.0 L engine I wish all GCC dealer not bring car from Subaru Factory in U.S.A my car model 2012 engine gone

  2. It is a really nice car, but it is pure enthusiasts car, they offer only manual which means it is difficult to use it as daily drive in the traffic of Dubai or sharjah, and it is overpriced to be bought as a second car for weekend fund only, they should have offered a dual clutch transmission for it, or price it reasonably, otherwise people will go to other (So Many) alternatives, although not all of these alternatives are from the same category, but they are all sports cars like Mustang, Challenger, Lexus RC, G37 and many other cars, and if you are looking for 4 doors, you can even get Charger SRT for the same price.

    • id also prefer it being an auto so one car can serve all purpose. its true competitor is Evo and it is more successful, one of the reasons being that now it comes auto.

    • There is a WRX variant that comes with a CVT transmission…..It is slightly less powerful than WRX STI, at 265 hp…

    • Vivek, I think the WRX with CVT is only sold in USA, it is not available here

    • Lexus RC is AED 200k. American cars can’t compete, they are by definition shitty in terms of handling and grip. As the English say, “they are built for the 1/4 mile”.

      So, a Challenger or a Charger, even with the stupid SRT HEMI 6.5 or other I don’t know which “crazy-numbers-just-to-show-off-that-mine-is-bigger-than-yours” will never match and compete, not even on the ramp to enter into E44 from an interchange of Umm Suqueim for example.

      American cars, as you said, are cheap; because there’s very poor engineering. It’s only about the engine and nothing else. Best example is the Mustang: didn’t come independent rear multi-link suspension, ’till 2015. A Honda has it since 1980 (or smthg like that) => the Mustang that everyone is crazy about (especially after the propaganda films where this car is put as THE ultimate driving machine), but its more important engineering is just 35 years late !

      So, it;s hard to compare a Jap car with a US car and even harder to defend the point that a US is better, especially a Subaru which has a oure rallye and sport tradition.

      Last point, go to the Brembo dealer here (ORZ performance), and ask him about the SRTs. They are all being under-equipped for braking and need all to be Brembo BBK upgraded.

    • @Leborde

      first of all I said very clear in my comment that the competing cars i mention could be from another category and we know that muscle cars are not meant to have superior handling, although they imporved that recently but still not will handle like subaru or other german cars (We know that), second, it seems that you only sit behind keyboard and talk without real experience, have you been to any subaru showroom recently? this STI, the base model costs around 175k and the fully loaded one costs around 190-195k, and the Lexus RC starts from 190k with 4 trims available reaching to 230 K, and dont forget, it is a Lexus, a lexury brand, so even the base model comes decently equipped, and even if I want to go to higher trim, it will cost me 200k and that is not very far from the STI as you suggest. Third, are you suggesting that the SRT is slow and can not merge in traffic on highways, heheheheh, what a joke, the SRT goes to 100 in 4.4 seconds, which is much more faster then this subaru, I’m not saying it is bad car, but it is over priced, offered only in manual, and targeting very young demographic so of course the sales will be low, there are many factors taken in consideration when you buy a car, I know it is all about spec, but sometimes for your personal reasons, you have to give up few things or sacrifice few things to fulfill your requirments, for example …. Im cars enthusiast and really like cars, but in the same time Im married and have 2 kids, I have family car already, and Im 35 years old, as enthusiast I know the subaru is good car, but Im not ready to be seen driving one in my age with that stupid huge spoiler in the back, I would rather be seen in an infiniti G37 or lexus RC or even a mustang, considering I have a family, Charger SRT would be a nice choice, or even Lexus IS350, hope you got my point

  3. during my school days in 90’s Evo and Sti used be my dream cars…they were fiercely competing against each other in almost all kinda rallies around the world…now there are new entrants in this segment like Golf R and Focus RS, still nothing matches that good old days rivalry of Evo and Sti….

  4. Did you take the pictures with a cellphone?

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