November 25, 2013 1:15 PM | By Mark Atkinson for MSN Autos

2015 Subaru WRX preview



2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
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  • 2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
  • 2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
  • 2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
  • 2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
  • 2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)
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2015 Subaru WRX

More performance in store for Subaru's rally bred compact

2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)

Subaru has had a strong presence in rallying since the early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until the first Impreza hit in 1992 that success started. Because the homologation rules for competing in the top-class in the World Rally Championship required that there be road-going versions of the competition cars, the WRX was born. It received more power thanks to a turbocharger and intercooler, the suspension was made sportier, and eventually grew larger wings and crazier body changes too. After more than 20 years and three generations, the WRX still stands for affordable, durable, all-weather performance.

The fourth-generation 2015 WRX debuted at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, and from first impressions, it’ll pick up right where the last one left off. For now, the WRX will be only sold as a sedan, which will appeal more to the U.S. market than to Canadians.

More aggressive, but there's always room for more

2015 Subaru WRX (© Photo: Subaru)

Visually, the ‘Rex gets subtly swollen fenders that wrap around wider 17-inch wheels with low-profile performance tires. The larger air intakes provide more cooling for the upgraded engine, while the hood scoop returns, although subtler than in years past. The headlights now feature LED detailing that’s echoed in the new tail lamps too. Other typical WRX cues like quad exhaust pipes, subtle trunk-lid spoiler and rear diffuser make reappearances too.

The whole package is greatly improved over the plain-Jane Impreza, but to be honest, there’s room for some improvement. Subaru promised much with the WRX Concept shown at the 2013 New York Auto Show, but lots of dramatic touches were left out in the translation to production.

WRX returns to a 2.0-litre

2015 Subaru WRX drivetrain cutaway (© Photo: Subaru)

Mechanically, the WRX uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection flat-four boxer engine found in the Forester XT which is in and of itself a turbocharged version of the engine found in the BRZ. Although it’s down half-a-litre from before, it’s a generation ahead so produces 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, both small gains over generations. Interestingly, the WRX's turbocharger runs at a lower level of boost than the Forester despite making more power. Gains are due primarily to the fitment of  a bigger intercooler and a performance exhaust system.

Transmission choices include a six-speed manual, while the traditional optional automatic is replaced by a CVT. As with many CVTs, there is a manual mode; drivers have eight artificial ratios to toggle through.

We’ll have to see how well Subaru engineers tune the response, although the CVT will come with SI-DRIVE with three separate throttle and shift maps. Like the Forester XT, selecting Sport provides six ‘gears’ that mimic a more traditional automatic, while Sport# (Sport Sharp) ups that to eight, all controlled by either paddles on the new flat-bottomed steering wheel or the console shifter.

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