STi in my eye: There’s no WRX or STi in MPG

Sections: Fuel Economy

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2015 Subaru WRX STi Photo Shoot 031

This was about as good as my fuel economy got during my week testing a pre-production 2015 Subaru WRX STi. Is that such a bad price to pay for having this much fun? (Lyndon Johnson photo)

I said earlier that you don’t buy a Subaru WRX STi for its cutting-edge infotainment system. Let us add to that: You don’t buy a Subaru WRX STi for its fuel economy. There is a price beyond the likely $35,000 MSRP to be paid for a car that is this fun to drive. Hoonery, thy wages is fuel economy.

It comes as a surprise to no one that a sporty car makes drivers more likely to dip into the throttle bucket more frequently, and deeper. It’s intoxicating. The 2015 Subaru WRX STi is no exception. The turbo says whoosh, and the driver says yee-haw. Or insert your region’s preferred vernacular phrase. You’ll seldom experience a four-door car that has the power to pin you back in the seat like the 2015 Subaru WRX STi. At least, not at its price point. This is giddyup for the working guy or gal, not some rich man’s machine. Praise be to the gods of automobilia, for they doth provide the hoon’s manna at a reasonable cost!

Perhaps that intoxicating experience I got every time I plunged my right foot into the skinny pedal’s well of go-fast was responsible for my so-so fuel economy. In a week of driving the car as a commuter, I was unable to break 20 MPG indicated by the built-in trip computer.

Could I have done better with, say, a 305-horsepower V6-engined ponycar from one of the American manufacturers? Perhaps. I dare say no tall-geared secretary special Camaro or Mustang would be as fun to drive as the 2015 Subaru WRX STi, however. What good is a 30 MPG EPA highway score if you’re bored to tears with the flaccid response of a fourth-gear roll-on pass made on a long, straight stretch of two-lane blacktop? And let’s not forget those cars have two fewer doors — not to mention less usable trunk space — than the 2015 Subaru WRX STi.

Life is a series of trade-offs. You can have better fuel economy in a sporty sedan, but it’ll probably be less sporty than the 2015 Subaru WRX STi in most measurable quantities. Or perhaps you can have the same fuel economy in an overall slightly faster car, but you’d have to pay the price of less day-to-day drivability. The 2015 Subaru WRX STi hits a lot of sweet spots for me — big back doors and a roomy back seat for my toddler, big trunk for hauling newspapers or groceries or whatever else I happen to tote with me, comfy driver’s seat, slick six-speed manual transmission, solid clutch feel, not-too-touchy brakes, and that wicked, wicked powertrain. But fuel economy is not its strong suit.

At least, not when you’re hot-dogging it as much as I did during our test week. Were I to drive it the same way I drove the Lexus CT200h that came into my possession the following week, I’m sure I could probably get the fuel economy into the low 20s. But what fun would that be?

Disclosure: Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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