Review: Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018)
Powerful and vocal boxer engine. Responsive handling with mountains of grip. Large and practical interior.
Running costs are huge. The attention-seeking exterior won't be for everyone. Cabin feels cheap and dated.
Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018): At A Glance
- Insurance Group 40
- On average it achieves 101% of the official MPG figure
The Subaru WRX is a high performance family car that's built in the same image as the Imprezas that dominated rallying in the late 1990s. As a result the WRX has a boisterous road presence that's backed up by a 2.5-litre boxer engine pumping 305PS through a race-tuned four-wheel drive system. However, while enthusiasts will enjoy the fun and theatrics, the WRX doesn't actually improve the old and tired Impreza formula.
The WRX is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol boxer engine, producing 305PS and 392Nm of torque. The 2.5-litre engine is high revving and full of vocal character, with the 0-62mph dash taking just 5.2 seconds. Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission that has been reinforced to provide a shorter throw.
The WRX is extremely capable with its stiff chassis providing good balance and lots of feel in the corners. The four-wheel drive system is also excellent, with seemingly endless grip that will make the Subaru apt for high octane driving in all but the harshest of conditions.
Yet, for all of its grip and power, the WRX has some notable drawbacks: the steering is heavy and needs considerable work to get the best from it, while the cumbersome gearbox makes rapid gear changes difficult. The engine is loud at motorway speeds too and the brutal ride makes the WRX a gruelling experience for passengers over long trips.
The WRX does have a large cabin though, with ample head and leg room for up to four adults. The boot is a decent size too, with 460 litres; however, the interior lacks quality, while the layout feels rather dated compared to the modern and airy cabins of the Honda Civic Type R and the Volkswagen Golf R.
For enthusiasts the WRX will undouble represent the embodiment of a high performance Subaru; the styling is typical of the old Impreza WRX, with a large bonnet scoop and oversized rear spoiler, while diehards will find the booming 2.5-litre engine to be the perfect accompaniment to the WRX's all-round retro appeal. However, for almost everyone else, the WRX will feel like something from a time warp.
Indeed, compared to the Volkswagen Golf R and Honda Civic Type R, the WRX is too uncompromising, too noisy and too arduous to be considered as a daily driver. The running costs are also painfully high, with a claimed 27.2mpg and 242g/km of CO2. Subaru’s standard warranty is also reduced from five year/100,000 to just three years/60,000.
What does a Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018) cost?
Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 460 litres
The interior of the Subaru WRX is relatively large, beating both the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R for head and leg room in the rear. This means it's quite easy to fit four adults into the cabin, while the 460 litre boot should prove large enough to carry three large suitcases.
For the driver there's a relatively clear view of the road, although the bulging bonnet does obstruct visibility a little, but this can be remedied by rising the seat a couple of notches. Indeed, the seat boasts a good range of adjustments - six in total - and lots of lumbar support, while the tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable.
Unfortunately the dashboard layout isn't quite so appealing; the leather-wrapped steering wheel is pleasant enough to the touch, but covered in cheap switches that continue to decorate the drab dashboard. We really can't emphases how much we dislike the WRX's interior. None of the controls have a premium feel and the scratchy layer of plastic is dull and unappealing to the eye.
The stereo system is also basic and feels rather old, while the four-inch colour display at the top of the dashboard looks cheap and distinctly aftermarket. Dual-zone automatic climate control is fitted as standard, along with Bluetooth, but there's no navigation, DAB or any option of a touchscreen. However, most of the in-car controls are simple to use and pairing a phone to the Bluetooth system is easy enough.
All of the seats in the WRX are cloth, with leather accents, which provide lots of all-round support thanks to their wraparound sporty design. There's also no shortage of interior storage, with cup holder, deep door pockets and space for a couple of large water bottles.
18-inch alloy wheels, LED head lamps, LED tail lights, sports bodykit, front fog lights, privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control air conditioning, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, steering wheel mounted cruise controls, front map lights with overhead cascade lighting, luggage space lamp, front cup holders, driver and passenger illuminated vanity mirrors with lids, multi- functional centre console with 12v power outlet, driver’s foot rest, leather wrapped steering wheel, six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, 60:40 split-folding rear seats, sporty front seats with red stitching and red leather accents (leather and Alcantara), CD/radio.
Child seats that fit a Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018) like to drive?
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 24–29 mpg
The Subaru WRX is extremely powerful and enthusiasts will immediately take to its high-revving 2.5-litre boxer petrol engine that's found beneath the huge bonnet. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is loud and theatrical, awakening with a rumble that builds into deep thunder as you engage first and power away.
Getting the clutch and transmissions to work in harmony is a tricky process - the former has a high biting point and the latter is notchy - but with a bit of practice it's possible to work past the agricultural set up to unleash brutal levels or power. Subaru claims a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds and we have little reason to question these figures, such is the rapid rate of the WRX's acceleration.
The star performer here is the four-wheel drive system, which is excellent, with mountains of grip in the corners and almost limitless traction on the straights. To get the most out of the WRX, it has to be revved hard to facilitate rapid gear changes needed to then obtain the mid-corner bite from the all-wheel drive system. The steer, although heavy, provides lots of feedback and the ventilated disc Brembo brakes are sharp too, scrubbing off speed in matter of seconds.
While WRX is a lot of fun to drive on the edge, it makes some rather significant compromises with a painfully hard ride that transfers every lump or bump into the cabin. As a result the Subaru is a tiring car to drive over long distances, with the 2.5-litre engine droning heavily at motorway speeds, while the suspension crashes over all but the smallest of potholes.
Things don't improve at lower speeds either, with the heavy steering and notchy gearbox making the WRX feel cumbersome. The high riding clutch also makes heavy traffic an unpleasant experience, with the WRX either bunny hopping or labouring along as you try to define the wafer thin bite between stalling or firing 392Nm of torque to all four-wheels at once.
Parking is problematic too, with a huge turning circle and oversized bodywork making it difficult to define the corners. There's no sensors or reversing camera options either, so more often than not it'll a case of opening the driver's door and trying to judge for yourself. For the hardcore enthusiasts, this will all be part and parcel of the rally car experience, but for other it will prove to be breaking point in a car that quite simply isn’t suited to life as a daily driver. Especially when you factor in the high fuel and tax costs, with a claimed 27.2mpg and 242g/km of CO2.
|2.5||26–27 mpg||5.2 s||242–252 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
When will the Subaru WRX STI reach the UK?
What Cars Are Similar To The Subaru WRX STI (2014 – 2018)?
Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.