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Why doesn’t Subaru offer an automatic in the 2015 WRX STI?

The all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STI comes with as a six-speed standard gearbox only. Why doesn’t Subaru offer an automatic in the performance car?

Why is the new-generation 2015 Subaru WRX STI the only sports sedan that only offers a manual gearbox and not an automatic transmission option? The WRX STI has never been offered with an automatic transmission option, but why is that? Most other performance cars come with both manual and automatic (usually dual-clutch) transmissions. But why not the WRX STI?

Subaru has always offered an automatic transmission on the WRX, but not the higher-performance STI. The new WRX gets a new automatic transmission option called the “Sport” Lineartronic CVT. It comes with a manual mode and paddle shifters. Is this just for window dressing or will it really work in the performance model? Subaru says it gets better fuel efficiency (of course), but also benefits from a choice of stepped automatic shifting with eight pre-selected ratios. Why not in the STI.

All the class-competitors have automatic transmission options including the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Volkswagen Golf R and higher-priced German rivals like the Audi S3 Sportback, BMW M135i and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG. All come with all-wheel-drive and offer both manual and automatic transmissions in their performance cars.

Subaru has said they have designed the WRX STI for one specific market segment. In an interview recently with, Subaru’s WRX project general manager, Masuo Takatsu said the brand’s performance fans “simply aren’t interested” in an automatic in the higher output STI.

Takatsu said in the interview about the new 2015 STI, “At this point, we don’t have any plans to release an automatic version as STI customers tend to be more people that are into motorsports, and for those customer bases, we believe a 6MT (six-speed manual transmission) is the best choice.”

The milder WRX has a completely different demographic who Subaru is marketing the car to. WRX will appeal to sports enthusiasts who would never take the car to the track or rally racing on the weekends. Takatsu said, “We’ve put a lot of effort into developing our sport CVT, and feel that it delivers the kind of response and feel that you would expect of a car like the WRX.”

It’s the same reason Subaru decided to keep the higher-output 2.5-liter boxer engine in the STI. STI customers want more torque, more power and more turbo feel, and the six-speed standard gearbox lets motorsports enthusiasts bring that out better on the track. The new 2015 WRX STI chassis with the six-speed gearbox lets them exploit all the power of the 2.5-liter powerplant.

Very few STI buyers would opt for the automatic transmission, and Subaru knows this. Subaru isn't going to spend the kind of money it would take to develop that level of technology, and go with a more sophisticated dual-clutch automatic gearbox, when so few buyers would choose it. Stay tuned to Torque News for the latest rally-bred 2015 Subaru WRX STI news.


allen (not verified)    February 24, 2014 - 11:23AM

1st off if u cant drive a manual. Then fall in the lazy human statistics. If u want an automatic transmission. Then u get a wrx end of story. Go learn how ti drive a stick. And stop complaining. When buying a sport car and/race car the 1st thing on ur mind shouldn't how my gas mileage going to be. Sure auto can get better times in a qurter mile. Eww jist thinking about doing a 1/4 miles in an automatic sound gross and boring. Lol

look a me I just put my foot on the gas and held the steering wheel stight boy look at those times I feel accomplished. No u didn't accomplish anything. But ur car did.

Bottom line
automatic = no fun!
manual = hella fun!

Peter will (not verified)    June 11, 2016 - 11:21AM

In reply to by Morgan (not verified)

This question is about why the Subaru sti dosent come in an automatic. If due to your disability you are unable to drive a manual then this discussion really dosent consearn you.

Bsmarkone (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 10:16PM

In reply to by Peter will (not verified)

Manual transmissions went out in 1991 when Ferrari started using paddle shifting sequential transmissions in F1 Faster and quicker thats a fact Jack. Subaru should keep up with the times. This is a Finacial decision a duel clutch sequential would drive the cost to high for the market, And all you guys that think a manual is the way to go drive a GOLF R. Buy the way I would buy one if it didn't say

david (not verified)    May 30, 2015 - 1:58PM

In reply to by allen (not verified)

People commenting manual is the only way to drive & that automatic is lazy pfft grow up or get wiser, You guys have to get your heads out of your Arses. There are people who are not inclined to drive manual like the disabled or people who simply can't understand how to dump the clutch n shift.. There are areas/city's where having a manual truly fails like stop & go traffic weather such as snow if you are a true car enthusiast you would understand "Oviously you guys DON'T".. If Automakers believed in just the manual then why do they make Automatic gear boxes specially in super cars like the bugatti Veyron etc.. it's because if you miss shift what happends? That's right Blown Motor or Blown transmission Not Mainly reasons to why most of the people in this world drive automatics..
Stop being one sided.. such pure ignorance..

Irina (not verified)    August 25, 2015 - 12:33PM

In reply to by david (not verified)

@david Oh give me a break. Majority of people (North America) do not drive standard because of the fact that they're lazy, that's it. Sure there are a "few" people who are disabled and can no longer drive standard, but like I said, a FEW. Everyone I know (family, friends, coworkers etc.) that can only drive automatic, have the same reason every time; "I just don't want to learn." Also, don't give me the poor excuse of "I can't drive standard because of snow!" Snow is probably the best time to drive standard and it's more fun (especially in an AWD vehicle). Also I'd like to add, the reason they make those non-affordable cars automatic is because the millionaires that buy those cars is not to use for racing, rally or anything fun for that matter. It's to stick it in their garage and show off when people come over or go on a short cruise to show their luxury and show off that they have money, that's it. Why in the hell would you even compare a bugatti with a sti anyways? You know why? Because you have a brain the size of a peanut and you my friend are no car enthusiast, as you say you are. So please, stick to automatic if you seem to always fail in stop and go traffic and fail in the snow... You're giving the people that actually know how to drive standard a bad name. Thanks

Brandon (not verified)    February 19, 2016 - 12:36PM

In reply to by allen (not verified)

Sorry Allen. But I must agree with David and Morgan. It does require a lot of skill to drive a manual. Take me for example. I had to learn for a whole year because I almost set the engine on fire due to not shifting and using the clutch at same time. To drive a manual, you have to be able to multitask. Meaning your mind must be on more than one thing at the same time. (i.e. the clutch, the knob, and your timing). Some people can't do that so they can't drive manual. God makes everyone's mind differently. People need to stop judging because someone can't drive an automatic.

JERI HERRINGTON (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 4:00AM

In reply to by allen (not verified)

If u new how 2 drive and shut up u'd C that the conventional 4 speed automatic can be driven like a standard u just don't have 2 worry about a clutch and the constant shifting in heavy traffic,and I hated it that's why I like the auto.So u c were not complaining we just like the comfort of shifting gears without a clutch.I own a 06 impreza wrx and it shifts like a manual if u drive it like that,so there's no reason why they couldn't make the STI with a conventional auto trans as well.U ever here of shift kits with torque converters instead of clutches these R on race cars so u like the manual well good 4 u who gives a shit, theres no reason why some subaru fans can't enjoy a sti like everyone else with a decent auto trans a nice 5 speed conventional would be awesome

Patrick Rall    February 24, 2014 - 1:20PM

Because Subaru knows that sports cars should be reserved for people who are coordinated enough to handle three pedals. Modern automatics are getting better every day but there is no replacement for a true manual transmission. Those are are too uncoordinated to operate a clutch pedal should all drive minivans.

Carl (not verified)    February 24, 2014 - 1:35PM

"Subaru has always offered an automatic transmission on the WRX." - Perhaps overseas, but for the U.S. market, this is not correct. The most recent WRX did NOT have an automatic transmission option.

Clay Morrow (not verified)    February 25, 2014 - 5:06AM

This latest Sti is behind the pace, both engine and transmission wise. I see no reason in upgrading from my 01 v7 sti which is lighter and even has factory forged ej207.

Thy (not verified)    February 26, 2014 - 4:36PM

Well, I drive an Evo X (GSR). I have to say the MR with the dual clutch is pretty sweet and is a track advantage since it changes gears so darn fast. There are a group of guys trying to decrypt the TCU on that car so the "automatic" platform can be pushed beyond 650 HP to the wheels without issue.

s207 (not verified)    July 30, 2014 - 2:55AM

@allen, people who don't drive manuals aren't lazy, they simply don't drive manuals, someone's gear box doesn't determine their drive in life. A lot of manual fanatics talk all this nonsense about how manual is so much better than automatics and in some cases it is while in others it's not. For example the R35 is an automatic but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would call that car slow, that's like calling the Shinkansen just another train. EVO MRs, R35s BMW M3s etc all come in automatic versions and they would easily give any manual car a run for their money, the truth is that you can't out shift a computer and talking about how amazing your manual car is and your shifting skills just won't feel the same when you've been walked by one of these "automatic cars" that's not talking smack it's just fact. I can say this and I drive a new Cobb tuned subie but still think automatics are great cars.

R35 (not verified)    September 20, 2014 - 5:41AM

Some of the fastest production cars in the world are only offered in automatic...

Bugatti Veyron. McLaren P1. Ferrari 458. Lamborghini Aventador. Porsche 918. Nissan GTR.

Sequential and dual-clutch transmissions change gears faster than any mortal possibly can. Sorry, it's a simple fact. This coming from a guy who has had 3 STIs.

maretti (not verified)    October 22, 2014 - 7:07AM

World Rally Cars, F1 Cars, Porsche turbos, Ferrari's, BMW's, EVO, etc etc etc all offer high performance dual clutch systems. Why, they are the best - period. If you haven't driven one you shouldn't comment. I know many folks who chose a standard, then drove a dual clutch, and regretted buying the standard. 6 speed floor mounted standard transmissions, I hope, will go the way of the 3 gear column shifters of the 60's. I'm disappointed with any STI fan that scraps the idea that a dual clutch won't sell. 0-60 will be quicker, track times will be quicker, drag times will be quicker - honestly I would buy a CVT over a standard if the technology is proven to be as good and quick as a dual clutch. I've tracked cars for years...if you drive really fast you would want a dual clutch. I can't believe Subaru, after all the years competing in World Rally with dual clutch transmissions, can't give us this option. I would pay $3k more for the option in a heartbeat.

Casey Wise (not verified)    May 8, 2015 - 2:36PM

In my marriage a compromise I had to make to a get a fun car is that it must be automatic. If the STI had one, I'd buy one. I agree with all the machismo, a sports car should have a stick, but that is not a battle I will choose to fight with my wife... remember boys, happy wife = happy life. And if I had a stick, I sure as heck wouldn't want her driving it, she'd do awful things to that clutch!

Indy_007 (not verified)    October 13, 2015 - 12:30PM

In reply to by Casey Wise (not verified)

Thank you! Im in the same boat! I could get anything i want as long as its under 45k and automatic, some people dont understand that, a Automatic STI would mean the world to me! I cant just teach my mother in law and pregnant wife how to drive stick if they ever need to drive my car

Bill DeAngelo (not verified)    February 22, 2016 - 10:15AM

In reply to by Casey Wise (not verified)

Just teach your wife to drive stick then, it's hardly as complicated as it's made out to be. I taught my girlfriend on a 3-ton grain truck and she can drive anything now, so unless your wife is an idiot she should be fine (and if she is that dumb, I can't imagine you having a "happy life").

Mike (not verified)    May 28, 2015 - 8:18AM

I will not deny the fact that flappy paddles makes a car faster, but I will fight to the death on how a proper manual makes a car funner to drive.

The entire driving a manual in traffic can be a mess is a mute point. I drove a manual in traffic for 15+ years and loved it. Driving a manual becomes 2nd nature just as riding a bicycle. You think about shifting and throwing your left foot down about as much as how you need to think about swinging your feet on a bicycle.

So I wilk give you my real workd example of my gripe with flappy paddles:

I was driving my girlfriend's Mini S on a back road stuck behind a slow poke. Doing maybe 30mph. I noticed the transmission was on 5th. I put it in "manual" mode to stick it into 6th to save me a bit more gas while stuck behind this slow fool. Guesd what? The ECU put it right back into 5th.

Are you KIDDING ME!? This is supposed to be "MANUAL" mode! Why are you not letting me put it in gear that I want to. Would I have had this problem with a real manual? Of course not.

Point being, I hate it when the car tries to do so much for you. And if speed is truly an issue then I will get a light mod to keep up or if with turbos I will bump up boost 1-2psi.

2012 carrera SDK vs 7 speed manual.

0-60 about .7s faster than the manual. Same for 1/4. Slalom - the manual was faster by .1 seconds. Now isnt that interesting?

Oh, and the PDK was slower with traction control on. How many are willing to bet most with the auto will forget to take TC off as opposed to the car guys with the manuals?

So my epic point is: the complexity of the automatic with its slightly speed advantage in SOME areas is not worth giving up the joys of driving a manual. :-)