By on November 15, 2013

2015 Subaru WRX

While those who opt for the upcoming 2015 Subaru WRX STi can still row their own, those who prefer to let the transmission do the work may (or may not) be disappointed to find a CVT in their new WRX.

In a leaked dealer document, customers who opt for either the WRX Premium standard model or the Limited with or without the sat nav/Harmon Kardon audio/keyless access triad can either row their own through a six-speed manual or Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT.

Sending the power through the CVT will be a turbocharged 2-liter flat-four, while the STi will utilize a 2.5-liter turbo flat-four and, for those who choose it, launch control.

More details to come when the WRX makes its debut at the LA Auto Show next week.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

69 Comments on “Shifting Becomes Variable For 2015 Subaru WRX...”


  • avatar
    Josh_Howard

    I’m totally okay with this. Except for the small percentage that will end up doing tweaking on the car, this should help with mpgs and make the car a lot more comfortable in daily driving. Also, it’ll probably be much faster than the one with the stick. Anyone who has driven a turbo powered-cvt transmissioned car can tell you how well that cvt keeps you in the boost. It’ll probably be super comfy on the road, and fun as hell on the dirt keeping the boost going. Sounds like fun on the bun to me. Bring it on!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Has there ever been a comfortable WRX? I don’t think so.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Also, itll probably be much faster than the one with the stick.”

      The manual Juke is faster than the CVT version, so I don’t think this is a forgone conclusion.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        ah… well I was thinking it, but you had already said it.

        All depends on how the CVT is programmed. I’m sure Nissan’s are all about MPG, but Subie would be smart to program theirs for acceleration.

        Proof will be in the pudding.

    • 0 avatar
      skakillers

      I don’t know about small percentage, whenever I look at these on ebay or craigslist it seems like about 75%+ have awful wheels, terrible body kits, and probably poorly done ‘moar boost!’ sorts of mods.

      • 0 avatar
        Instant_Karma

        And the kids selling them think that their stanced and “stage III tuned” cars are worth thousands more than an unmolested example.

        I’m looking for another Integra sedan to replace my 1990 and pretty much only the slushbox models remain unriced. The second generation Integra sedans look like an old squared off Accord to most fart can D16 Civic drivers, when I pull up to one they don’t know what it is till I leave them at the light and they can read it on the trunk lid.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Nice part of those ‘Tegs was that they had the size of the Civic with the vault-like build quality of the Accords of the day.

          If Honda would build a Civic-sized car with ALL of the Accord toys (including the Adaptive Cruise Control of my 2013 Touring) and the build quality, I’d be all over it! (And no, the Acura ILX doesn’t cut it–I’d want the 2.4, with Tech package and a slushbox, which you can’t get!)

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      First of all, the “small percentage that will end up doing tweaking on the car” is about 99%. I’m yet to see a completely stock 2+ year old WRX that’s not up for sale (owners tend to pull their mods before sale sometimes). This is one of the reasons I bought a new car instead of used – because stockers were almost impossible to obtain.

      My other point is that I drove a non-turbo CVT Altima it was a piece of junk. Felt rubbery, unconnected and yawn-inspiring all around. I also drove a non-turbo CVT Impreza. A little better but not much. I sure hope most people will choose manual that is proper on a car like this. If only Subaru lightened the clutch a bit so it would stop doubling as a legpress exercise machine I’d be grateful.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Wow-on TTAC, I read about a CVT in a WRX. Will the WRX owners cry WTF? IDK! YMMV :)

    • 0 avatar
      Josh_Howard

      Many, many people are going to cry about this. They’re going to say it sucks and that cvts are terrible… all the while most people have no experience with them. For 90% of people, the CVT can be the right transmission. Let those who don’t want one, stay away from them. I’ll be the guy in the left lane using 100% of the power available as I pass you.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        I do have experience with CVT’s in my sisters Nissan. Obviously it will be a different driving experience with a turbo four, but the thing I can’t stand about the CVT is that there is significant lag while the tranny hunts for a ratio and the engine then follows suite. It makes for a very odd driving experience. You need to plan a few seconds out when pulling into traffic or merging for the thing to catch up to the commands of my right foot. Maybe Subie has a better unit that negates my criticisms.

        Also, and this is a Nissan thin, when you are in the upper revs the engine just sounds like you are thrashing the shit out of it. Terrible noise.

        I’ll stick to my 6spd manual. Its just a lot more fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          The thing I can’t stand about automatics is that there is significant lag while the tranny guesses your intent and then follows suite. It makes for a very odd driving experience. You need to plan a few seconds out when pulling into traffic or merging for the thing to catch up to the commands of my right foot.

          • 0 avatar

            So true, but it even more true with these Continuously Variable Transmissions that we are discussing here for the WRX.

            They tend to hunt and peck more than any other system and they give us all kinds of negative feedback with our device. The computer control becomes far too picky.

            While they have obvious benefits, they do have their downside. If I had my way, we’d shelve them completely. I realize that others here disagree. At lest they are not prone to “limp Home Mode.”

            We have had our problems with the multiclutch VW A/T’s too. They become too abrupt under some conditions and sound ptetty bad. The VW computers are the main cause here, though… very picky also.

        • 0 avatar
          Josh_Howard

          It’s all in the programming. My ’13 CVT is pretty quick and is far faster than I could shift when I get on it. It’s all about expectations.

          • 0 avatar

            What car? I like what Pragmatist (below) says. We agree on the points that he makes.

            So is your CVT fast on kickdown? I know this is relative… but…

            Finally, do I really care? The fact is that the only time I’ll ever likely drive a CVT is when I rent a car or borrow my friend’s Impreza. I’ll take a six speed standard Mzda tranny any day. Maybe that 9 speed paddle shifting 911 could work for me though. :0)

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        There is only so much to gained (especially with modern engines) from this approach (the 9 speed ZF has probably already jumped that shark) and in general geared automatics often have a much larger range anyhow.

        There are other issues too. Cvts rarely have a fast kickdown which severely limits response (and the excuse that ‘cvts don’t need to kickdown is total BS — pulling a higher numeric gear ratio is the best way to get more torque and HP to the wheels) .

        Deep down most cvts rely on rolling /dynamic friction. For long term reliability, I will take real gears any day.

        There is nothing wrong with wanting an automatic, but there is no real advantage to cvts.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          This. CVTs just aren’t as good as modern automatics. They suffer from two problems -they are slow to shift from a very high to very low gear – and they don’t have much gear spread.

          Nissan is trying to fix the gear spread issue by adding planetary gears – and of course if you added enough of them it would probably work.

          But then you basically have a regular automatic.

          The gear shifting speed (from high to low) has to do with the way they actually work. This is why people that slowly and casually drive around don’t mind CVTs.

          But people who want to say blow by the big rig on the highway – really don’t care for them. Or suddenly squeeze into a gap etc etc. The reverse hold true as well. After you blow by something and want to start cruising again.. Its like you are stuck in a lower gear.

          Don’t get me wrong. Its okay. You can learn to live with them. They are better then a lot of old four speed automatics. But the Japanese are far to into them. They are not better then the latest 8 speed (and now 9 speed) autos that are coming out..

          BTW yeah Subaru makes the worst manuals out there so I suppose a auto WRX isn’t that bad. Why can’t they borrow a Honda or Mazda manual?

          • 0 avatar

            So true CelticPete. I think that you and Prag have it pretty much nailed.

            However, I am thinking that the planetary gear approach that you mention could yield some advantages over the multi-speed automatics once sorted out. They could end up being “harder”… if you know what I mean?

            Still a six speed Mazda tranny works so well for me and its good exercise in an otherwise uncoupled surroundingas we move toward an electronic satellite tether and hands free driving. That is when I’ll surrender my driver’s license and take up crocheting.

          • 0 avatar
            Alexdi

            You clearly haven’t driven a CVT attached to a six. Kickdown in the V6 Altima is almost immediate and it’ll settle as soon as your foot’s off the gas. The gear spread is 7. An Accord is nearer to six, which is why the Altima revs 250 RPM lower at 70 MPH and gets better highway mileage.

            There’s definitely wind-up lag with the older iteration in my ’10 Maxima, but it compensates by putting traffic at a standstill a second later. There’s no ‘stuck in a lower gear’ feeling in either car or any four-cylinder CVT I’ve tried, I’ve no idea how you came up with that.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      They already are crying. Their precious rally machine is being defaced with a CVT option that none of them will ever buy. Oh the horror.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    It looks like a Civic with a Subaru nose kit.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    This makes sense due to the fact that the Forester turbo has a CVT, as does the Legacy GT they sell overseas.

    As someone who sells Subaru for a living, I think its a good idea. Going to the 6spd is great and will cater to the true enthusiast. The CVT will be an option for people who don’t know how/don’t want to drive a stick. Not sure how much of a demand there will be for the CVT, when the WRX had an automatic we usually had to practically give them away.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “when the WRX had an automatic we usually had to practically give them away.”

      I don’t doubt it. The WRX is one of the few cars where more buyers actually want a manual transmission, similarly to used Corvettes.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      As someone who sells Subarus for a living, what is a good price on a ’13 BRZ Limited with the manual?

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        Thats a loaded question haha, here in Maine we have not had much of a demand for them, unlike other parts of the country. We’d sell it for $26,600 or so just to get rid of it (if we had one). That’s $500-ish under invoice with the dealership still making $500 on the deal. I wouldn’t expect that deal to fly in other parts of the country.

  • avatar
    dude500

    I wouldn’t mind a CVT in the WRX if it is like this:

    http://www.karting1.com/continuously-variable-transmission-for-karts-test.htm

  • avatar
    vtnoah

    Honestly I think it might be a good thing considering the positive comments I’ve heard about the CVT on the Turbo Forester. Also – gives me another enthusiast option for my Manual averse wife.

    • 0 avatar

      Yah, well a Forester is a very different animal, just as is the Impreza. The WRX is strictly a driver’s car and the CVT is too slow to respond to inputs… so forget it. What next? A CVT on a 911?

      • 0 avatar
        vtnoah

        Pretty sure the Forester and Impreza actually share their platforms at least the previous generations did. I would say the WRX is a sporty do it all car, not really in the same league as the 911. You can own a drivers car without it being a manual too… It’s all personal opinion though. Granted I personally would go with the gears but my wife wouldn’t.

        • 0 avatar

          I believe that you are correct, but the WRX is made to go fast and cheaply… that is its market.

          I doubt very seriously if your wife fits their market at all. Mine is on the other side of the planet from a WRX.
          My guess is that there are four women that fit their market, maybe five.

          • 0 avatar
            Redshift

            When we went shopping for my fiance’s daily driver, her requirements were:

            1) Manual transmission
            2) AWD (Eastern Canada, and we live on top of a big hill in the country)
            3) Turbo
            4) Hatchback

            So, she daily drives a 5-door WRX.
            In fact, our entire automotive fleet is manuals with the exception of my winter vehicle/race car tower truck.

            Upside I see in this story is, assuming they bring back the 5-door, she’ll get an STi next time around to get the manual.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Interesting specs for a girl’s car. She’s a rare breed.

          • 0 avatar
            Redshift

            She is.
            Her “toy” car is a Spicy Orange MazdaSpeed Protege.

          • 0 avatar
            piggybox

            When I was in Canada, I felt the percentage of manual drivers is higher than in US.

          • 0 avatar

            @Danio

            My 50 year old sister drives an FR-S with a six speed. And loves it. Of course, that does not in the least negate your point. I’m just bragging.

            Our older brother is the one who has always driven slushboxes.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            @James,
            One of the nice things about living in the Pacific NW is LOTS of women like the WRX, and many of them like to mod them. And not just the ones who’s job involves a brass pole…

          • 0 avatar

            @05lgt

            HuHuHu… you said pole.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I wonder if they will do the stepped CVT like Toyota did with the most recent Corolla. It gets rid of the rubber band effect and allows you to manually shift via paddle shifters. Seems like that could work really well on the WRX.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “…transmission due the work may”

    Wow. It’s DO.

  • avatar
    segfault

    This isn’t completely clear from what was posted above, but from the options matrix posted, it looks like the CVT is not available on the STi, only on the regular WRX.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’m iffy on the enthusiast part of this, but marketing-wise, it’s probably pretty progressive. The bulk of the WRX target market will be kids coming from various slushboxes and dual clutch manu-matics of some kind (read: their parents’ old cars). More cynically, they’ll be coming from a Playstation world of push button shifting and touchscreen PCs and phones.

    I could sit here and lament the demise of all kinds tactile feedback in a lot of industrial design, from cars to cell phones, but Subaru is here to make money. And with the highest repeat buyer base in the business, I have to believe they’re doing something right.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “And with the highest repeat buyer base in the business, I have to believe theyre doing something right.”

      I’m one of those repeat Subaru buyers*, and was toying with the idea of a WRX at one point. This version looks a lot less attractive to me:
      -No more hatch.
      -CVT with certain option packages – I’ll have to see how the Canadian options are bundled to see if this would impact me.
      -Smaller engine. While the 2.5 is still available, you have to spring for the STI. The STI is a nice car, but at that prices there are other, better choices IMO.

      IIRC, Subaru offered a softened up automatic WRX circa 2008 – I don’t think the take rate was very high. It will be interesting to see how the CVT does, but my hunch is the WRX is one of those cars that appeal to people who actually prefer manuals.
      _________________________

      *who actually buys wagons with manual transmissions, just not in Brown ;)

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        I missed the no more hatch part…seems ridiculous, but I’m one of the rare people (especially among Americans) who think that all vehicles below a certain size should only be available in hatch form: Mazda3, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta & Focus, etc.

        But if you look at the sales of Jetta vs Golf here, apparently I’m the weirdo.

        • 0 avatar

          OK ash, I get it. I own a Focus and it is a very nice little hauler and I realize that most people have to cary their junk on occasion. But I would never touch that car as long as my Miata Roadster is in the driveway (and seldom do).

          I also own two Jetta TDI’s that are far more efficient than either of these and that will probably outlast most humans alive today (with a resonable standard of care).

          You are not weird, but why are you even here posting? You are confusing me.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Looks like Scoobys going the same route as the Evo X, comfier and easier to drive. Heck its about the size and looks like a mid 2000′s Legacy, but with more anglez.

    Ah forget it, its the top of the line Dodge Dart/Chevy Cruze/Honda Civic/Mazda 3/Toyota Corolla.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    You have to get extra options to get a manual? I can’t wait for the rationalizations/excuses from the “stick only” jihad.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Buying any sort of automatic in a WRX is like buying a 2 wheel drive Jeep Wrangler … kinda missing the whole point of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      A 2 wheel drive Jeep Wrangler is not a bad idea at all, assuming it’s lighter and with better packaging. Most buy Wranglers for the image and never driver off road anyway.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I personally could care less what flavor of auto is offered as long as a stick is as well!

  • avatar
    wmba

    I own a Subaru Legacy GT automatic. Before that, a Subaru Impreza, also automatic. Prior to that, I had an unbroken string of manuals since I bought my first car in 1967.

    It was Subaru that broke my manual-shifting days. Their manual is a cantankerous, obstinate, rough, frankly bloody awful thing they ought to be ashamed of, since about 1972 when they first debuted it. Buying a new car tends to focus the mind. In my case, thoughts of 8 or 10 years grappling with that apparatus were too much to contemplate. Why mire yourself in self-inflicted torture?

    I love a decent manual like the one in the new Accord Sport or Mazda6, VW, or even the floppy thing in the Abarth. Subaru’s is probably the worst one left on the market. Buy it only if you imagine you’re cool.

    Disclaimer: the 6 speed in the STI is a different gearbox entirely and is fine, but too expensive to shove in the WRX.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I drove my wife over to pick up her 2002 WRX wagon which was being serviced last night, and I suggested that it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the newer ones, as hers is getting up in mileage. She started drooling over a black 2010 WRX STI hatch, which was admittedly quite nice, but I said that at her age (a year away from retirement), I didn’t think that she really needed an STI over a regular WRX (though if she really wants it, I wouldn’t say no). She would probably really skew the age range for buyers of that car!

    In any case, she has to have a hatch/wagon, and it has to be a stick. Did I marry a good one or what?!

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Considering the WRX’s sporting pretensions, one would think a dual clutch would be more fitting.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It’s only been 4 days since I shared my nightmare of the WRX only being available as a sedan with a CVT, so I bought a Camry… I guess I’m clear on this being my fault. They couldn’t have done it in 4 days.

    • 0 avatar

      OK, I have to ask:

      How would anyone be interested in such a plain box as a Camry when they were first shopping for a driver’s car.

      Its like a died in the wool sailor buying a houseboat. There are so many other options out there that at least somewhat resenble a WRX that come to mind, and Toyota does not build a single one.

      Just curious…

  • avatar
    Vhyrus

    If you buy a WRX with anything other than a manual, you are doing something horribly, inexcusably wrong.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It was a nightmare after eating too much pasta. I don’t try to make sense out of them. It was kind of scary to have posted here on the story about the WRX tease that a CVT WRX played a role in a bad dream and then read that they were actually going to do it 4 days later. The scariest part of the dream was the Camry.

  • avatar

    LOL… fun!!! I hope that the pasta taught you a lesson. It turns to sugar you know?

    Pleaant dreams from here on out and please stay off the pasta, OK? I can see that you are the kind of people that I want on my highway.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “It turns to sugar you know?”

    It was harder to give up pasta than red meat. I allow myself two big cheats per month.

  • avatar
    Power6

    This is so non-news. Only recently (since 09) did Subaru cancel the auto-box WRX option. Now they are bringing it back, becuase they already make the power train for use in the Forester her in the US, so why not offer it even as a slow selling model.

    Most will still be bought with the stick as it has always been.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “so why not offer it even as a slow selling model.”

      I would think that a turbo-CVT Legacy would be much more popular than an automatic WRX or the current 3.6 Legacy, so I wonder why one isn’t offered. Maybe it is in the works?

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    The gear spread of a ZF auto is nearly 10 – and the 0-60 times are as fast if not faster then a 6 speed manual. So while you might like your cvt – they aren’t performing as well in the real world from a performance perspective.

    Perhaps you aren’t that sensitive to it – but because of the way CVTs work they get ‘stuck’ in gears. While they are continuously variable – they are not instantly variable. When going from high to low or low to high they pass through all the gears in between. An auto/manual or DCT will kick down.

    It’s not something I am ‘getting’ IT’S HOW THEY WORK. An manual transmission or a torque converter automatic can switch gears and skip gears. CVTs do not.

    So if you are accelerating very quickly and they let off the accelerator it takes the CVT some time to ‘figure this out’ and some additional time to slide over to the higher gear.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ2kp5YOXHA

    Look at this video and try to understand how CVTs work. And then you will understand that despite what you THINK I am right. The lag might be small enough to not be noticed by you – but people who have experienced cars with very good modern transmissions like say a Porsche PDK can notice it right away.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India