When the WRX first appeared here in 2002, we found this rally-car inspired version of the Impreza sedan very engaging: a genuine sports car with tons of power and super-sharp handling, lodged within a mild-mannered, all-wheel drive, four-door sedan. The redesigned 2015 "Rex" carried on that tradition and tested out very well in some areas. But we liked it a lot less, because while the typical car became more civilized over the past decade, the WRX did not. Like a talented teenager who just wouldn't grow up, the lack of subtlety got irritating after a while.
While staying true to the established formula, the redesign brought a few notable changes. This version of the WRX is a little larger than the last generation, affording a more spacious rear seat. The five-speed manual transmission became a six-speed and higher trims offered a CVT. Despite evolving, the car feels surprisingly raw, remaining a track-ready racer aimed at the serious driving enthusiast. Acceleration is ferociously quick and handling remains enormously capable. But the powerband is narrow and hard to moderate, so delivery feels jerky. A stiff clutch and clunky shifter make everyday driving a chore.
You have to be truly young at heart to enjoy the real-world driving experience. The ride is jarring on all but the smoothest roads and nonstop engine drone fills the cabin. Controls are simple, arguably too simple for this car's millennial/digital-native target audience. The base infotainment system's Bluetooth, phone and voice command structure are rudimentary and behind the times.