At the end of the conversation, it looks like American sport compact enthusiasts will have a decent crop of new cars worth modifying in 2014. The all-wheel-drive 2015 Subaru WRX and WRX STI lead the pack with new power, new looks and a decidedly improved chassis, but we were also introduced recently to a refreshed front drive 2014 Honda Civic and the 2014 Honda CR-Z HPD sport hybrid (available now with a supercharger option). We also threw in this list the 2014 Toyota Corolla and 2014 Acura RLX to cover the ends of the price spectrum (even though what we really want from those brands are the new Supra and NSX, respectively).
2015 Subaru WRX
Since the Subaru WRX's beginnings the guys at the automaker have never missed a beat with the rally-inspired platform. Every generation has been widely accepted by tuners all around the world. Later this year the '15 Subaru WRX will be released for all you would-be new car shoppers. With all-wheel drive, a turbocharger, four doors, and aggressive handling, who wouldn't want one?
Aside from the updated good looks, the new Subaru WRX packs a powerful 268 hp underhood. Yes, that's right, 268 hp, making it the most powerful WRX to date. To testdrive the new turbo beast we needed long sweeping roads, and Subaru took us to the best spot on the West Coast for that: Napa.
2015 Subaru WRX STI First Drive
Now being offered in two flavors, the 2015 Subaru WRX comes in a six-speed manual and a Sport Lineartronic automatic with paddle shifters. Before you pass up the automatic let us tell you that it features the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), allowing you to switch from Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp. This doesn't actually give the transmission more gears, but it has an electronic eight-speed operation. Unfortunately as soon as we got into the automatic we were pulled over by the good old po-po. It seems that the California Highway Patrol got tired of seeing so many WRX cars fly up the coast that they decided to pull me over and make an example out of me. After that I took it pretty easy to our destination where we swapped cars for a six-speed manual.
Holy crap, they weren't kidding when they said the chassis was reinforced more than the previous version. The car is flat, flat, flat in the turns. I've been in 'caged race cars that didn't feel this solid. Subaru used aluminum lower control arms, which is common on a lot of sports cars but Subaru also decided to use pillow-ball bushings in some spots underneath the car too. That's something you don't' see everyday on factory cars. Climbing the hills and cutting down in the canyons was so much fun that I didn't want to share the WRX with my copilot. Turbo cars are fun and even more fun when they are connected to a AWD drivetrain. We had the center dash mounted boost gauge peaked out at 18.8 psi!
If you're considering getting one, don't think about it, just do it. There isn't much else available when you consider AWD turbo cars—and when no one does AWD turbos like Subaru. Just like the previous generations, the WRX 2.0L engine will see tons of aftermarket support to make it into any monster you want. Obtaining custom aero and chassis parts are never a problem and will have everything you could want in the next one to two years. But if you're not into heavily modifying cars, I'd still say buy one. It's the perfect all-around daily driver. Four-doors, AWD, turbocharged, and the new amenities of make it the perfect car for any age in any terrain. You really don't need to modify it to enjoy it either. Just sit back and enjoy the heads-up display, paddle shifters, navigation, 60/40 folding rear seats, 400W nine-speaker sound system, and, of course, that turbo.
2015 Subaru WRX
Power: 268 hp/258 lb-ft
MPG: 21/28/24 (six-speed manual), 19/25/21 (Sport Lineartronic automatic)
Engine: 2.0L, 16-valve, flat four-cylinder engine, 10.6:1 compression, Direct Injection; twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, 86x86mm bore stroke
Drivetrain: AWD, Active Torque Vectoring with SI-Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)
Chassis: aluminum lower control arms, pillow-ball mount bushings
Weight: 3,267 pounds
Wheels/Tires: 17x8 with 235/45-17 tires
Brakes: four-wheel disc brakes, two-piston front caliper, single piston rear caliper, 12.4-inch front rotors with 11.3-inch rear rotors
Exterior: aluminum hood with top scoop, foglights, LED exterior lights, shark fin antenna, trunk lip spoiler
Interior: electronic seats, cloth or leather seat option, red stitching accent, carbon-fiber accent, push-start button
Electronics: 4.3-inch GPS screen, 3.5-inch LCD center screen, heads-up display, six-speaker or Harman/Kardon 440W nine-speaker option
2014 Honda Civic Coupe
Most of you probably don't even realize it but car models come in generations. A generation of a car is the years that a certain model platform is produced. Within those generations you will most likely see lots of minor revisions year-to-year and then one major revision in the middle. These revisions are called refreshes in the industry. Some might call them zenki, kouki, and even chuki, but we just say a car has a refresh. The usual refresh for cars comes in the form of changing the lights and bumpers.
The 2014 Honda Civic coupe is, however, an exception. From first glance you'll notice the headlights and bumper are different from 2013. If you look further you'll notice the entire frontend is also different. Even the fenders have been changed, giving the Civic an aggressive sportier arch. On the rear, the lights have been updated as well as the rear bumper with an updated diffuser look. Turning up the sportiness didn't stop at the exterior; Honda added a push-button start option and a 7-inch touchscreen display.
Engine exhaust changes yield a +3 increase in horsepower while chassis improvements make the 2014 Honda Civic coupe more rigid and solid. For the automatic lovers a new Continuously Variable Timing (CVT) transmission will bring up mpg to 33.
If you're considering getting a new Civic, remember this is the country's best-selling compact car for a reason. Whether you choose the manual or automatic transmission, you will enjoy it. We testdrove both, and the automatic felt great. We'd suggest getting one in one of the new colors: Modern Steel Metallic or Orange Fire Pearl.
2014 Honda Civic Coupe
Power: 143 hp/129 lb-ft (LX, EX, EX-L), 205 hp/174 lb-ft (Si)
MPG: 30/39/33 (CVT automatic)
Engine: 1.8L (LX, EX, EX-L), 2.4L (Si), 16-valve, i-VTECH, four-cylinder engine
Drivetrain: FWD, CVT automatic or manual
Chassis: revised spring rates, dampers, and stiffer rear antisway bar
Weight: 2,754-2,916 pounds
Wheels/Tires: 16-inch wheels standard, optional 18-inch
Brakes: 11.1-inch front rotors, 10.2-inch rear rotors
Exterior: foglight, elongated side mirrors, new taillights, new headlights, grille, hood, fenders, and bumpers
Electronics: 7-inch audio display, GPS, Smart Entry, push-button start, LaneWatch