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2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition Long-Term Update 7

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/12/2015 Nate Martinez, Motor Trend Staff

2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition Long-Term Update 7

At 12,500 miles, something strange began to happen. Until then, pressing the black Engine Start Stop button riled the 2.5 liter awake, no problem, without delay, every time. Since then, however, our STI has consistently struggled to start. It's nothing unheard of, according to some members of the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club (NASIOC), the largest website and owners' forum focused on all things Impreza. They've labeled the phenomenon a "hard start."

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The time between my pressing the start-stop button and the engine's ignition has been 2 to 3 seconds. Sometimes the cranking lasts longer. Sometimes it starts as flawlessly and as quickly as it did when it was first delivered. In the end, the car has always started.

Initially I attributed the abnormality to cold ambient temperatures. One of Southern California's winter heat waves quickly quashed that hypothesis. Then I hoped it was a bum batch of premium fuel. Nope. Not that either. Maybe it was the way I drove? Yet again, nope.

So at 13,109 miles I visited Subaru Pacific. Along with solving the hard start situation, I asked technicians to readjust my fuel door (it had become quite to open) and check the cleanliness of the air cabin filter (the circulated air smelled like a damp dog). They easily addressed my concerns, save for that disconcerting ignition thingy.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image They couldn't replicate the problem. Per Subaru Pacific's invoice: "Found starting concern to be normal operation due to fuel pump adjusting to first initial start." OK then, I thought, maybe it'll miraculously go away on its own.

Not exactly. So with 14,384 miles on the dash, it was back to the service bay, this time at Frank Subaru in San Diego. I explained my hard start troubles and asked to have my Tire Pressure Monitoring System sensors reassigned and recalibrated. Tire Rack preinstalled blank clone sensors inside the new OZ Racing wheels.

The service manager was adamant that his technicians weren't allowed to reassign aftermarket TPMS sensors. Shucks. (Note to potential wheel/tire swappers: If you don't want your dash's tire pressure alert light to stay on, plenty of tire shops have the tools to recalibrate aftermarket TPMS.)

Once more, technicians could not replicate the hard starts. By this point, I had enough, and I asked the service manager, Onder, to witness one of my starts firsthand. I pressed the start-stop button, and voila, the engine's elongated cranking, all of its struggling, all of its drama, happened, in his presence.

"Hmm," he said as a look of amazement covered his face.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image I left our beloved #Suparu at Frank Subaru for two days. After a battery of tests, multiple starts at all times of the day, technicians found nothing in need of repair, nor could they consistently replicate the issue.

Instead, they recommended a new starting procedure: Tap the button, don't hold it down. That has helped a little. So has allowing the vehicle's systems to fully boot at the Ignition On cycle (with no clutch pedal depressed so that it doesn't initiate the start cycle) — i.e. sensor lights turn on and off; tachometer and speedometer arms swing to their maximum positions, then return to their original locations; all chimes stop. The idea being that the fuel pump can fully prime before a proper start can take place.

Although the cause of this dilemma may be a mystery, this much isn't: The need to follow a regimen — one that isn't 100 percent effective, by the way — so that "my" new car starts normally is ludicrous, frustrating, and embarrassing. Such hard starts shouldn't exist. But to this day, they do.

More on our 2015 Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition:

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image

2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-Launch-Edition-front-three-quarter-static1© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-Launch-Edition-front-three-quarter-static1
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