試車, 攝影: Calvin Chan
It is rare I feel palpitations when I hop in the elevator down to my underground condo parking lot. Today is different. This time, I know there is something savage waiting for me down there. An animal hibernating in our parking spot. The elevator opens and I'm greeted by stunning LEDs and a rear spoiler that has its own gravitational field. It's a 2015 Subaru WRX STI, and while my not-so-savvy car friends are going to think it's a venereal disease, I will smirk and tell them it's no such thing.
Subaru has ditched the Impreza name and simplified the moniker to the WRX STI. The naming has changed, but we can't say the same about the vehicle itself. Putting it simply, the STI retains much from the outgoing model but has refined it enough to make it feel like an entirely new Subaru. The STI is 15mm longer and 5mm lower, but is 140% stiffer (kudos to Subaru because no weight was gained from this). The suspension is all changed up with higher spring rates and a hydraulic steering rack. The turbocharged flat four 2.5L SUBARU BOXER engine has been carried over from the old STI, and delivers the same numbers as well - 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission and Subaru's brilliant all-wheel-drive system, this STI can spring from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
Acceleration in the STI is insanely linear and bountiful. Even at 6000rpm, you'll start to wonder where this deep reserve of torque is coming from. It pulls even at 7000rpm! It is an amazing engine, and we don't blame Subaru for leaving it unaltered for 2015. Also carried over is Subaru's SI-Drive, which offers three selectable driver modes. Intelligent, Sport, and Sport# - all in all, the STI is offering a selection of three engines in one. Intelligent mode softens up the torque delivery and provides a lower torque curve. This is the smoothest damper setting that you'll want for a relaxing commute to work. Sport mode was our favourite, and in our opinion the most balanced of the three - the car will pull through its entire power-band and still have room leftover for a punch to the kidneys. The grip is excellent and the suspension is firm enough for a pleasurable, yet supple ride. Sport# mode is where the STI shines. The exponential torque curve delivers lighting quick throttle responses and you'll be red-lining before you know it. It's a setting that won't reach its full potential on city roads, but will tell a different tale on the track.
The STI's sweet spot for smooth takeoffs and launches is around 2000rpm. Anything below that will make for a ride choppier than a wooden rollercoaster. The clutch is not too forgiving either, nor is it lenient. The stiff and heavy clutch takes some getting used to and don't be afraid if you stall a few times, we did too. Even on the softest damper settings, you should be on that clutch at low speeds and rev like crazy. The gearbox just isn't as smooth as a BMW's manual. It is rough and you really gotta work your forearms and punch it into the gears. Clocking into third gave us some trouble too. The shifter kept resisting and felt like it did not want to shift at all!
On a good note, the STI has a very heavy low-pitch noise that resonates and rumbles more than the previous generation STI. We definitely liked the raspier exhaust noise exiting the dual tailpipes.
As you would expect from an all-wheel drive Subaru, grip is plentiful. The wheels feel glued to the tarmac and lets us corner at high speeds with the mentality that we'll be pointing in the right direction out of the bend. Steering feedback through the wheel has always been a feature lacking in many new vehicles these days - a special thanks to the invention of electric-assisted steering. The STI keeps with the hydraulic rack and with that, comes precise feedback rumbling through the flat-bottom wheel.
The STI likes to understeer more often than not, but there are ways to change it. The STI comes equipped with the Driver Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD) that allows us to customize the limited slip differential and partition torque to the front or rear wheels. Leaving it in AUTO mode lets the computers determine which wheels need more or less torque in response to the driving conditions (acceleration, deceleration, steering angle, cornering force, wheel slippage, etc). Hitting + will shift more torque to the front wheels for better traction and grip. I personally kept the C.DIFF button (No, not C.difficile - I feel the naming of this car was determined by a physician) flipped in the other direction (-), where torque was biased to the rear wheels, and gave me much tighter cornering and less understeer.
When the 2015 WRX concept made its debut at the 2013 New York AutoShow, Subie fans couldn't have been happier. The rally-inspired concept was bulging with aggressive lines and creases, it sported a low stance and was quite a looker - a dream come true. So when the production WRX was shown to the world, hearts sank and dreams were crushed. It looked nothing like the concept. Fans were upset at its conservative lines and the mundane looking front fascia. But I can assure you that it is all relative. When comparing this Crystal White Pearl STI to the WRX Concept, it looks tame. But by itself, it's not too shabby. Beautiful LED lights hover in front, and a rear wing sits in the back (the spoiler is so wide and tall that you can't even see it in your rear-view mirror). For those that think the spoiler is too obnoxious, the STI is available without one! But what's an STI without it...
Our tester was fitted with the Sport package that comes with the LED lights, sunroof, fog lights, and the 18-inch Enkei cast-aluminum-alloy wheels. Those rims look fierce, my favourite has to be the 18-inch BBS forged aluminums found in the Sport-tech package.
The biggest downside of the STI is the interior. It's plain, uninviting, and feels thrifty when put up next to a BMW or Audi interior. I guess with this much excitement under the hood, the designers thought to keep the interior more simplistic and functional. Though there is a refreshing quality to sticking the car-key into the ignition in this automobile era littered with PUSH TO START buttons.
The A pillars have been moved a few millimeters forward to give the interior more breathing room. We don't notice too much of a difference from the outgoing model. The performance seats feel snug. While they aren't Recaro standard, they feel comfortable enough for long distance journeys. They even have some alcantara inserts that feel soft and expensive.
I wish the 4.3 inch LCD display was a bit larger and positioned closer to the driver. I wouldn't have minded a touchscreen either, but that's only found in the Sport-tech package. A center rotary dial perfected by the Germans would've been nice too, but instead we're stuck with an up/down button, several enter buttons and controls that gets very convoluted.
The instrument cluster is great and displays all the info you need, but could use more colours to help distinguish between fuel gauges, engine temperature, etc. At night, it feels like we are staring at a dotted slate of orange.
We got the chance to hook up our phones wirelessly through Bluetooth to play our own music, but the system won't automatically connect to it. This means we had to actively pair up the audio each time we start the car, and this includes when you stall the vehicle.
Speaking truthfully, the STI wouldn't be an everyday car for me to drive. The ride is uncomfortable and the clutch is cumbersome. The STI is the car I'd use for a Sunday morning adrenaline rush on an empty stretch of tarmac. Starting at $37,995, the STI can be viewed as a performance bargain, but I think the base WRX is an even better one. It starts at $29,995, and trails behind the STI by only 37 horsepower. It has less power lag thanks to a twin-scroll turbo, better fuel economy, and almost an identical suspension to the STI. All that the WRX is missing is that planetary spoiler. On paper, the WRX seems like the more sensible choice, but numbers never tell the full story. Driving the WRX is like conducting a beautiful symphony orchestra - but the STI, it makes its own music.
型号 Model: 2015 Subaru WRX STI Sport Package
顏色 Paint Type: Crystal White Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $40,495.00
試車售價 Price as Tested: $42,476.15 (with PDI, freight, and other fees)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2650
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4959 / 1795 / 1475
車重 Weight (lb): 3384
引擎 Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC turbocharged 16-valve 4-cylinder SUBARU BOXER
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 305 / 6000rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 290 / 4000rpm
波箱 Transmission: Close-ratio 6-speed manual with Hill Holder system
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut with aluminum lower suspension arm with pillow ball mounts and bushings, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double-wishbone
煞制 Brakes: Brembo 4-wheel disc, ventilated front and rear, dual-piston rear calipers
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 12.3 / 8.6 (we got 12.9L/100km)
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 245/40R18 Dunlop SP SPORT - 18 x 8.5-inch Enkei dark gunmetal