15 WRX: 18 Month, 25k Mile Review and AMA

So I’ve had my car for 18 months and 25k miles now, I’ve spent 3 days on a race track, done 2 ice races, and 5 autoXs. It would be safe to say that the honeymoon phase is long over. At this point I should be able to form a somewhat less biased picture of the car.

Track Day at GingerMan Raceway (wet)

My car is one of the last 2015 model year cars brought into the US, it is Galaxy Blue Pearl (the best and now discontinued color). It is “premium” trim model so it has heated seats/wipers/mirrors, a sun roof and not much else. I paid about 30k for it out the door.


The Good:

The seats are nice and comfortable even for hours at a time, they’re also reasonably supportive when you add lateral g’s

The steering wheel feels nice, though the leather is getting a little smooth/greasy at this point (should probably try cleaning that)

I really like the HVAC control, simple 3 knob systems are under rated, and its automatic too which is nice.


The Bad:

The stock speakers are terrible, the coils are seriously an inch in diameter and they used what appears to be a regular 1.75" speaker as a tweeter and I’m pretty sure it has a bigger coil than the door speakers too though, go figure...


The cabin is rather loud and frankly all I’ve done is make that worse, but my worsening is the good loud... maybe

What is clutch feel, I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing other than stiff

The Ehhh:

The radio is functional, bluetooth always connects and calling usually works as long as my phone doesn’t get confused about audio I/O from different apps.


Shifter feel is not great, I’ve done a bit to improve it (diff, trans, engine mounts, short shifter), but its still no STI or anything else with an actually good shifter.

The stock Dunlops are loud, I suspect my winter blizzaks are actually quieter. That said they have stood up to my considerable ham-fisted abuse gallantly and they’ve still got life left in them. So ehhh!


Suspension: I actually think its really good, but I’m a nutcase and demand the impossible so ehhh and read more below.

The above section paradigm is a failure so now I’m just going to ramble, organization is overrated anyway (section):

Daily driving this car is fun. To give some perspective I should say that I live in Chicago suburbia, I am downtown weekly, and commute to work from both the burbs and downtown. That means I’m in traffic daily, occasionally at full halt and crawling and around the fact that driving sucks in those conditions. I have on occasion had to use “better” commuter vehicles and I can confirm that the suck is very equal between them. Yes, the clutch is firm and I have to use it a lot, but that just means I can skip leg day and that my left leg is immaculately toned.


When the opportunity arises to actually drive, the car is consistently impressive and always smile inducing. The thrust this thing can dish out is intoxicating and terrifying to those unaccustomed to it (sorry mom). In something like a GTI or one of the ST siblings, you can’t really get on it in first or second (or if they’re tuned, third gear) because they just burn the tires off (or light up traction control or both), but in this car from a dead stop you can drop the clutch (don’t actually just drop it) from 5k rpm and the thing will hook up and scoot (none of this is recommended for the sake of your clutch and transmission). Even when leaving a stop normally or from a 5mph crawl, you can just mat it and the thing will go (taking a left, crossing traffic, nooo problem, go with confidence).

That’s not even the best part of the car, the real good part is how it turns. At sane person, quasi-legal, speeds the grip is unflappable and when you turn the nannies off on an on ramp it stays very neutral and you can actually provoke either under or oversteer with the pedals. The biggest downfall is that the limits are so high you really can’t play with them on the street, so to the track is is!


An Aside:

All of that daily driving is clearly from the biased perspective of someone who is a car enthusiast. If I attempt to remove that hat, my impressions would be this: The car is loud, stock that’s mostly the tires and other road noise because of cheapness or lightweight aspirations Subaru didn’t add a whole lot of sound deadening to this car. The trunk for example has almost none, unless you count the styrofoam spare tire covers, which you shouldn’t because they’re useless, or the paper trunk liner which is thin carpet glued to coregated plastic board (also nearly useless). The suspension and tires are too stiff, if there are bumps in the road you will feel them. If you were riding with another person in this car for any period of time you would notice these things, they’re not that bad so if you liked or had a neutral opinion of the owner and were in a reasonably good mood you probably wouldn’t say anything, just think that it is a bit odd and wonder why the owner choose this car as opposed to something better, like a Camry.


Lets Go to the Track:

Lets start with the gateway drug, autoX. If you didn’t know these cars dominate D street and everything I mentioned earlier should tell you why. At low speed you have tons of grip. Forward acceleration is never a problem between the AWD, sticky tires and torquy engine. The gears can be frustrating second takes you to 60 so you spend a lot of time there but you will from time to time have to go to third and if you do that and slow down much you’ll feel underwhelmed waiting for boost, rpm, power to come back (did I mention I don’t love the shifter). Turning wise the car is heavy, but the chassis is really stiff and the suspension does as good a job as is reasonable to keep it in control. AWD is cheating so you can pretty much slow down enough to get it pointed in the right direction and go back to doing that first thing it’s particularly good at.


I haven’t really mentioned brakes, so I guess I should say that they exist and they are more than capable of locking the wheels. They’re sliding calipers so feel is meh a little rubbery (better pads, lines can help but the issue is endemic to the calipers) The stock pads are OK, they’re fine for autoX but if you push them to long they will overheat and that is possible to do on the street, though I never have. Regardless before going on a real track it is imperative that you replace them with something with a higher heat tolerance (heavy car remember). That’s not conjecture either I’ve seen a couple owners track days ruined in one session (well one session then an out lap and maybe half a hot one where they realize they’re permanently cooked). My suspicion is that because the pads are ceramic the pads themselves aren’t so much ruined as the fluid has been boiled (ceramic can tolerate heat, but it is an extremely good conductor) and you have air in your brakes until you re-bleed them.

Enough about brakes, who wants to stop anyway? I sure didn’t that’s how I ended up at a track day, autox just doesn’t give a good enough fix after awhile. So how’s the car at that? The acceleration is no longer noteworthy with average speeds moved up to 60 the thrust is diminished, but more than adequate. What you really focus on is the cornering and at this pont it becomes clear that the cars predominate characteristic is under steer. Yes you can trail brake, and it will rotate though I am very much an amateur, my kung fu is weak, and my results doing that are subsequently inconsistent. If you’re on the power and you’re turning you will understeer. Part of that initial and mid corner understeer is entirely Subaru’s fault because they nerfed the car to make it predictable and safe. They did that buy putting a ton of camber (-2)on the rear tires and spec’ing almost none on the front. A non standard alignment really helps, you can only adjust the front which isn’t all bad because if you want to go fast you want more grip not less. Improving it is easy “fixing” it is proving more difficult, but I’ve got ideas....


So overall the strategy is brake late, maybe trail brake, release, aim for apex, begin looking for exit, find exit, feed as much power as under steer will allow.*

*these are the impressions of a goon with very limited experience, use at your own risk


So... uh...yea, 2015 WRX good all arounder, fun on the road, fun in a parking lot, fun on a track.

Before anyone asks:

1. Yes, my flatbill collection is on fleek (do people still say that?)

2. Ask me about my vape mods, its pretty good, I always win plume contest at my local Subaru meets

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