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Don’t let the giant trunk wing fool you: The STI is not about to go airborne before your very eyes. With 305 hp from its 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, it’s just not the performance threat that it used to be. A six-speed manual, limited-slip differentials, and torque vectoring help keep the STI glued to the road. Its steering is laser-quick and its brakes grip like crazy. The result makes it entertaining to drive, but it comes at the price of a punishing ride—and a punishing price.
Thus the new 2015 WRX STI isn’t as new as it might be if it had any real rivals. Most of the improvements went to the chassis, which was pretty excellent to begin with. Meanwhile, the one glaring deficiency—power—was once again tabled till the next meeting.
But, oh, what a chassis. The latest STI is stiffer, both in terms of the body structure and the suspension. The steering is quicker than the regular WRX’s, requiring only 2.5 turns lock-to-lock versus 2.8. The “Super Sport ABS” Brembos can adjust brake pressure at each rear wheel while cornering, so if you’re trail-braking into a corner you get the sensation of off-throttle torque vectoring. Of course, you also get on-throttle torque vectoring via a brake-based system at the front end. The STI hates understeer.
Still, when you’re on a dirt road, going inadvisably fast and banging up through the gears of the six-speed manual—the only transmission offered—this is the perfect machine. The turbo screes and sighs (issuing noises that seem to come from the passenger-side footwell), and every glance in the rearview mirror brings a glimpse of the wonderfully gigantic wing bolted to the trunk. There’s a genuine emergency brake, with a handle, and it works as intended when you encounter an emergency decreasing-radius second-gear corner on gravel. Pitch it sideways, get on the power, and the STI will make like a baby and slide on out.