The Subaru WRX has always been a touchstone for rally car performance in a street legal car with its fast handling, turbocharged acceleration and hefty hood scoops. Subaru's long-awaited refresh adds a six speed manual or automatic gearbox, new styling, and bids farewell to the five door hatchback version.

The most dramatic changes are the addition of a six-speed manual or performance CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which can be adjusted with paddle shifters on the steering wheel to eight different ratios. The CVT version also has a launch control mode, which is almost mandatory in this sort of performance car. Control settings for the transmission can be changed from "Intelligent" (for fuel economy), "Sport", and "Sport #" or Sport Sharp.

The propulsion unit is still the rally-car-specified 2.0 liter twin-spooled turbocharged and intercooled boxer four cylinder engine, but upgraded by 3 hp to 268 hp and sporting 258 lb-ft of torque. The new model has a curb weight of 3267 lbs (1482 kg), resulting in a zero-to-60mph (96 kph) time of 5.4 seconds, still quite respectable from a 2 liter four cylinder car.

The WRX also gets a new Variable Torque Distribution system to manage the all-wheel-drive system, moving power to the wheels with the best traction as needed to assist the car around corners.

The new model has also gained a bit in the wheelbase department, which Subaru says increases room in the cabin. The steering wheel was modified with a flat bottom, and Subaru will be offering a Harmon/Kardon 440 watt sound system for the first time.

Exterior styling appears a bit more "mature" than previous WRX models, which looked like some of the go fast bits had just been stuck on. The functional hood scoop has a smoother appearance, and sculpted details in the front and rear bumpers help loose some of the car's boxy looks. The windshield is also angled back a bit more, with the A Pillar moved 8 in (20cm) forward.

Subaru debuted the new 2015 model WRX at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto show and it's expected to hit showroom floors around March. The base sticker price for the 2015 model is expected to be in the same ballpark as the current car at around US$26,000.

Overall, the new WRX looks set to hold its special place in the heart of motoring enthusiasts, along with its rivals, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Volkswagen GTI, as a serious performance driving car that is also a practical everyday driver.

Check out the 2015 WRX in action in the Subaru promo video below.

Source: Subaru