Subaru’s raptor-inspired 2015 WRX STI claws at the pavement with 6 traction modes

Rally fans rejoice: the 2015 Subaru WRX STI is about to four-wheel drift into a showroom near you.

Subaru unveiled this redesigned version of its most potent performance car at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, complementing the base 2015 WRX unveiled at the 2013 Los Angeles show.

As always, the STI combines the practicality of an all-wheel drive compact sedan with the fire-breathing performance of a rally car. Just look at those flared fenders, that functional hood scoop, and that big rear spoiler.

The 2015 WRX STI also features a meaner front fascia than the Impreza it’s based on, with narrower headlights (including LED low beams) that were inspired by a raptor’s stare, according to Subaru.

The front end has also been molded into a “nose-cone” which combines the grille and bumper cap into one piece, and that’s made of aluminum to save weight.

The powertrain backs up the those aggressive looks.

While the 2015 WRX employs a new 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer-four and optional continuously-variable transmission (CVT), the STI sticks with its predecessor’s 2.5-liter turbo boxer, which produces the same 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, and is teamed exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission.

The STI benefits from the same stiffened chassis as the base WRX, which makes greater use of high-strength steel than previous models, and features extra stiffening at key points.

However, the STI features quicker steering: just 2.5 turns lock-to-lock, compared to 2.8 for the standard WRX.

Drivers can use Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) to alter vehicle characteristics through three settings – Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp – with a rotary controller on the center console.

The 2015 STI also comes standard with a Multi-Mode Driver-Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), which offers the driver six manually-adjustable modes for different traction situations. The default split is 41:59 front to rear.

More alphabet soup comes in the form of the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system.

With all of those intelligent systems, the WRX STI shouldn’t have trouble keeping all four wheels on the ground … even on the Moon.

The driver feels all of that grip through a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and there’s a 4.3-inch LCD center-stack display for monitoring key systems. Upscale WRX STI Limited models get leather trim and a Harman/Kardon premium audio system.

Subaru will kick off 2015 STI production with a batch of 1,000 Launch Edition models, with Subaru’s classic WR Blue paint and gold BBS forged alloy wheels. If owners really exercise the car’s capabilities, that paint won’t stay blue for long.

First-look video

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