Faster, stronger, smarter: The 2015 Subaru WRX debuts (pictures)

One of the most hotly anticipated cars of the is finally here. Is the 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX worth the wait?

Antuan Goodwin
1 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2015 Subaru Impreza WRX

LOS ANGELES -- From the moment that the fourth-generation Subaru Impreza debuted at the 2011 New York Auto Show, enthusiasts have been clamoring for the next WRX. At the same time, they've been praying that Subaru not ruin their beloved rally-bred ride in the process. Almost two years later, the 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX has finally bowed at the 2013 LA Auto Show and, aside from a few oddities, it's looking rather impressive.
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No ordinary Impreza

The underpinnings are based on the fourth-generation Impreza, but Subaru says that 80 percent of the WRX's exterior body panels are unique to the performance model. Underneath the skin, the wide-body Wrex has a wider track and a stiffer chassis than the standard Impreza.
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Forward lighting

The front end is where the most obvious styling differences can be found. The WRX's blacked-out headlamps and foglight surrounds give it a menacing look. Larger grille openings help to cool and feed air to the more powerful engine.
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Hood scoop

Like the models that came before, the '15 WRX features deep front fender vents and a functional hood scoop that forces air through the turbocharger's top-mounted intercooler.
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Powered by Boxer

Beneath the hood, scoop, and intercooler, you'll find the engine bay filled with a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected Boxer engine. Output is estimated at 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
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Six-speed manual gearbox

A six-speed manual transmission will be standard for the WRX, but it is also available with a Sport Lineartronic CVT. A CVT WRX?! Blasphemy, I say!
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Subaru Intelligent Drive

When equipped with the CVT, the WRX will gain a few new tricks. The driver will be able to select between six-speed and eight-speed "faux-gear" manual shifting modes and between Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp drive modes with the Intelligent Drive controller. The CVT model also features a unique all-wheel-drive system and will boast up to 30 highway mpg... still think I'd take the three pedal model.
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All-wheel drive with torque vectoring

Regardless of your transmission preference, the WRX will feature Subaru's trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which now features a new torque vectoring system for even more dynamic handling.
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Quad-tipped exhaust

The power train is finished off with a dual-exhaust system with quad tips. Those tips poke out from behind a bumper molding that's meant to resemble a diffuser.
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Performance-tuned chassis

In addition to the stiffer chassis, the new WRX also features larger brakes, a performance-tuned suspension, and standard 17-inch wheels.
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Cabin tech

Like the standard Impreza, the WRX's cabin has undergone a tech upgrade. The performance model will be available with keyless access with push-button Start, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, and a 440-watt, nine-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system and navigation with Aha smartphone integration. That's a huge step up from the last time we tested an Impreza.
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Base stereo

Though navigation is available, the Impreza WRX on display featured the standard audio system and automatic climate controls. We previously criticized this system for being a bit difficult to use. Fans of aftermarket stereos will appreciate that it looks easy enough to yank from its faux carbon fiber surround.
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Multi-information display

Like the standard Impreza, the WRX features a new multi-information central display with 4.3-inch LCD screen (not lit in this photo). This screen displays a variety of vehicle system functions, including the rear camera display, a boost gauge, audio, Bluetooth and climate-control settings, and a VDC screen showing traction control operation.
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Instrument cluster

The red-on-black instrument cluster features a central 3.5-inch LCD that also displays information about the vehicle's trip computer and more.
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The Impreza WRX has never been praised for its cabin fit and finish; this may be the generation where that changes.
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Weak finish

The WRX has also never been univerally praised as being a beautiful vehicle; its enthusiasts love its function over its often odd-looking form. While this 2015 model starts out with an aggressive front end, the design lacks a strong finish at the rear. I'm sure I'll get a lot of hate mail for saying this, but the '15 Wrex sort of looks like a Nissan Sentra from this angle.
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Where's the STI model?

Now that the 2015 Subaru WRX has been announced, I can't help but wonder, "When will we get the new WRX STI?" Car geeks are never satisfied.

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