Subaru WRX rallied like a champ

Written by on October 28, 2014 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 19 Comments

Krystyna Lagowski 2015 Subaru WRXWhen I picked up my shimmering white 2015 Subaru WRX, I had so much fun whirling around that I completely forgot it was an automatic transmission. I backed into my parking spot, and then couldn’t figure out why the key was stuck. Was I going to have to call Subaru? How embarrassing! Surely there was some easy explanation, perhaps some new anti-theft device. Then I looked down, and realized it was still in “Reverse.”

That might come as a shock to some WRX enthusiasts, for whom the only excuse to drive an automatic is because you’re missing a left leg. To put a WRX, with its rally racing pedigree, on the market with anything but a six-speed – could be construed as heresy.

And Subaru knows it. So instead of just popping in a regular old automatic, they designed a cool Sport Lineartronic with a “continuously variable transmission,” or CVT. So, I had a WRX with a CVT. Alphabet soup, anyone?2015 Subaru WRX fender

I’ll make it painless. This type of transmission is gaining in popularity since it keeps the engine at a sweet spot, so it’s always within the most efficient operating range. That means it’s better on fuel, which is endearing to consumers, but a little unappetizing for the fankids that enjoy brawling through the gears on a rally trail.

But the dauntless Subaru engineers have tweaked out the boring. This is a car that wants to get busy. The steering wheel was just bristling with buttons and levers. Touch the throttle, and it surged forward.

That’s good, because I had a busy week, and needed to be lots of places. Places that are on roads buried in construction, where a driver must be able to brave a labyrinth of half-built blacktop, potholes, and other hazards. While dodging other drivers who are squeezing the most out of their lane, unwilling to relinquish their tiny bit of rolling real estate. That’s why Toronto has more cops guarding construction sites than there are chasing criminals.

WRX frontOne day, I was marooned on Lakeshore Boulevard, crawling past untold traffic cones at minus kilometres an hour. I saw my break, and raced for it, turning left into the Canadian National Exhibition, with its network of contorted roadways. Careening around corners and down alleyways, the WRX sprinted and pivoted like a champ, true to its rally heritage. Up crowded side streets, along knobby laneways, twisting around blind bends, it responded to my every touch with virtuoso sass and gusto.WRX

Finally, I edged up onto College Street, which turned out to be the least congested east-west thoroughfare in the city. And that’s sitting squarely in the draft of the College streetcar!

Subaru has a reputation for being a cheeky shop where the engineers call the shots. They zig before anyone else zags, and that’s why the WRX with its CVT is meeting with a 30 percent take rate. That means the fankids are not only converting to automatic, but practically drinking the kool-aid.

WRX exhaustNo surprise there – the WRX handled the mean streets of the city with verve and precision. On the highway, it cut loose like a demon.

What’s next from this company? Apparently, a Forester STI. That’s a SUV with a high performance kit.

About a year ago, I drove a Forester and found it pretty frisky, even for an SUV.

But with a performance kit? Oy vey!

I can hardly wait.

2015 Subaru WRX




19 Comments on "Subaru WRX rallied like a champ"

  1. Lenie October 28, 2014 at 11:37 am · Reply

    I so much enjoy reading your posts and if you ever get a ghostly feeling, don’t worry, that’s just me riding along. I love the way you zig, zag, zip and all those other things.

    • Krystyna Lagowski October 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm · Reply

      Hahaha, Lenie, you’re welcome to ride along with me any time, whether you want to be a ghost or a real person. We can zip and zag all over town!!

  2. William Rusho October 28, 2014 at 7:08 pm · Reply

    That is a nice looking car.
    I too have driven sometimes, and forgot I was in an automatic.

    • Krystyna Lagowski October 29, 2014 at 7:37 pm · Reply

      That WRX was a lovely car! My dad drove a standard shift for over 30 years, and when he finally got a car with an automatic, he’d completely forget and leave it in drive. In those days, it wasn’t a problem until the morning, when he’d try to start it – and couldn’t figure out the problem. Happened a lot, the first few months that he had that new car. Old habits die hard!

  3. Ken Dowell October 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm · Reply

    Interested in the continuously variable transmission. Is that unique to Subaru or something that is being used by others in the market?

    • Krystyna Lagowski October 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm · Reply

      Yes, Ken, the CVT has been around for a while. Because it’s so efficient, it’s becoming more popular. Also the technology has become more refined – initially, the CVT could be noisy since it uses a belt, and enthusiasts complained about acceleration. Happily, that’s not the case any more! Subaru is the only one with the Sport Lineartronic, but you’ll find CVT on many vehicles – here’s a link >>

  4. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) October 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm · Reply

    Interesting. Is this like the Audi feature, or something different than what hey call the Triptonic. PLEASE don’t laugh at me if that is a stupid question:) Enjoyed this ride with you, though…through the construction zones!

    • Krystyna Lagowski October 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm · Reply

      Goodness, Jacqui, I’d NEVER laugh at you. And it’s a perfectly legit question. The Triptronic lets you engage in different driving modes, ie sport mode, etc. Whereas the CVT is a different type of transmission altogether – I like to think of it as the difference between taking the escalator and the elevator. The escalator is like an automatic transmission – it can quickly get you up a number of floors, but you still have to get off at each floor and take the next escalator. But the elevator can take you up as many floors as you want, without changing around. That’s a really general, non-tekky explanation, but gives you a general idea … I hope!

  5. Patricia Weber October 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm · Reply

    Thanks for taking us on that ride with you. I’ll be sure to ask about this CVT with my next car, not until 2016 though. So who knows, the technology might change. In the video, was the radio playing? Or did you add that catchy beat music?

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm · Reply

      Patricia, the technology is changing at a ridiculous pace. Who knows what we’ll be driving in 2016?! And no, that wasn’t the radio in the video. YouTube has all kinds of royalty-free music you can add for zero dollars : ))

  6. Arleen October 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm · Reply

    I have done the same thing….I backed into my parking spot, and then couldn’t figure out why the key was stuck. I guess I like to drive a car as if I am missing a left leg because a stick shift can get to be tiresome in city traffic. I think Subaru came up with winner using CVT. I asked my husband who is a car nut what continuously variable transmission was and both did I learn about it. At least you made it sound interesting.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm · Reply

      Arleen, I think this happens to people all the time, even if they don’t drive stick. And true enough, a stick can be a pain in urban traffic, my neighbourhood is nuts these days. But once you get out of the city … And thanks for the kind words, technology doesn’t have to be dull, does it?!

  7. Tim October 30, 2014 at 9:48 pm · Reply

    That’s a beautiful car, as they all seem to be when you write about them. You are so passionate about it and clearly know what you are talking about that it draws the reader in and they go along on the ride with you. Now if only I can get this thing out of reverse…

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 2, 2014 at 7:49 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Tim, it was a sweet ride. I’m very lucky that I get to write about what I love, and I guess it shows. Also nice to know I’m not the only one with gearshift amnesia!

  8. Meredith Wouters October 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm · Reply

    I love to read the way you write about driving! I’m so glad you get to do something you love this much everyday. Subarus seem to be great cars, and the Forester is on my short list for the next time I’m car shopping, so I’m looking forward to that post too.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 2, 2014 at 7:51 pm · Reply

      Hey Meredith, when you love what you do, it can’t help but come across. You’ll be pleased with the Forester, the one I had was incredibly roomy, good on gas, and fun to drive. What else do you need?!

  9. Beth Niebuhr November 2, 2014 at 12:02 am · Reply

    I’ve always had a standard transmission but this one sounds pretty inviting.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm · Reply

      Do you know that there are probably more women buying cars with standard transmissions than men? It’s true! The WRX with the CVT is aimed at those who want to have a bit of sport with their car but don’t want the hassle (in their eyes) of shifting. I’m with you, I prefer stick, but it’s important to have a choice.

  10. Jeri November 3, 2014 at 6:55 am · Reply

    I would love to give the CVT a try. It’s hard to imagine what my Mustang would have been like if it were an automatic. Learning to drive a stick when I was 22 is probably one of the bigger feats of my life… yikes!

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